In Depth


When emergencies strike, CARE works to meet people’s basic shelter needs: protection from the elements, security and a base for their livelihoods. CARE’s approach to shelter creates an enabling environment to mobilise the skills, experience, capacities and resources of affected populations so that they are supported as active agents of their own change.

Our 5 principles of shelter are:

  1. The affected population is the first responder and the most important stakeholder
  2. Shelter responses are always context specific
  3. Shelter programmes should be holistic and integrated
  4. There is a multitude of options for the delivery of shelter programmes
  5. A strong focus on the needs of women and girls

CARE shelter experts currently form part of the Self-recovery from Humanitarian Crisis research team – an interdisciplinary research project led by the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), Oxford Brookes University, in collaboration with CARE International UK. Other project partners include Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CRAterre, the Global Shelter Cluster, Habitat for Humanity, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the British Geological Survey (BGS).

The project focuses on understanding and supporting people’s own choices and efforts to rebuild and self-recover following disasters. The overall aim of the project is to better understand the self-recovery process to inform humanitarian shelter practice, ensuring construction of safer, healthier homes.

CARE also co-chair the Promoting Safer Building Working Group of the Global Shelter Cluster with CRAterre.

Read more

Working towards healthier homes – report from a multi-sectoral shelter and health learning day that explored connections between housing and health in order to build back healthier, as well as safer, after humanitarian crises.

Addressing housing, land and property (HLP) rights challenges – recent HLP profiles for Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey by Hogan Lovells lawyers for CARE International to support shelter practitioners in delivering emergency shelter responses.

Why we must work with refugees from Myanmar on mid-term shelter in the Bangladesh refugee camps – James Morgan, Shelter Advisor, considers the challenges of shifting from short-term emergency response to longer-term support and ensuring families and communities are at the centre of the process

What is self-recovery? – The challenge for humanitarian agencies – reflecting on a study after Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in late 2013, Tom Newby, formerly Head of Humanitarian for CARE International UK, asks what we mean by self-recovery, and what does support to self-recovery look like?

The case for self-recovery – article in Forced Migration Review by CARE’s self-recovery research team on the sector’s development of effective and appropriate approaches to supporting the practice of self-recovery for affected people

Self-recovery in Nepal: Reflecting with practitioners – blog by the self-recovery team about a roundtable discussion held in the Dhading District of Nepal with local practitioners, academics, policymakers and affected communities to reflect on the self-recovery programmes in the area since the devastating earthquakes in 2015.

Blogs See all

Beirut Blast: 5 lessons from CARE’s Emergency Shelter Advisor
On 4th August 2020, one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history devastated large parts of the Lebanese capital. At least 200 people lost their lives, over 300,000 were left…
Why humanitarian action must promote healthier homes for all
Co-authored by Emma Weinstein-Sheffield and Sue Webb World Humanitarian Day on 19th August reminds us that “in 2020, nearly 168 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection. This represents…
Improving our knowledge and practice on shelter self-recovery
After disasters and in post-conflict returns, many families will rebuild relying on their own resources, with little or no support from formal institutions or the humanitarian community – they self-recover.…
Holding back the flood: Using savings groups to relocate from risk in Malawi
As the climate crisis makes natural disasters a daily reality for people around the world, communities and humanitarian organisations are looking for ways to mitigate risks and build resilience. In…

Publications See all

A rapid gender analysis of the August 2020 Beirut explosion
On August 4 2020, the devastating Beirut explosion shook the whole city to its core, taking the lives of 191 persons (120 males, 58 females, and 13 unspecified), wounding at…
Towards healthier homes in humanitarian settings
This report contains the proceedings of a Multi-sectoral Shelter and Health Learning Day hosted by the ‘Self-recovery from Humanitarian Crisis’ research group. The report, which includes summaries of 20 presentations…
CARE Emergency Shelter Team Annual Review 2019
CARE’s Emergency Shelter Team provides technical expertise in emergency shelter and reconstruction. In the financial year July 2018 - June 2019, CARE implemented 73 projects around the world with a…
Soaring high: Self-recovery through the eyes of local actors
This report analyses the self-recovery process in the Philippines following super-typhoon Haiyan. The report presents the findings from a peer exchange event hosted by World Habitat which reflected on the…

You might also be interested in

Forced Migration Review - journal issue on 'Shelter in displacement'

Resilient Urbanism - a collaborative blog that seeks to explore a wide spectrum of topics related to what makes resilience in urban contexts unique

Gender-based violence (GBV) in shelter programming - an overview of the work of the Global Shelter Cluster working group (including CARE) that aims to provide tools to help shelter actors to mainstream GBV risk mitigation

Online shelter training course - a free 90 minute course developed by the Global Shelter Cluster targeted towards those working in humanitarian settings but useful for anyone interested in this area

Resources and links 

Shelter self-recovery – read more about the action research programme that aims to achieve safer, healthier and more resilient reconstruction of homes after crises

Promoting Safer Building information page on the Global Shelter Cluster website

Self-recovery from disasters: an interdisciplinary perspective – a report which investigated how disaster-affected households in Nepal and the Philippines rebuild their homes in situations where little or no support is available from humanitarian agencies

Stories of recovery: CARE Philippines post Haiyan/Yolanda shelter response – a CARE report evaluating the shelter response which used a self-recovery approach, providing almost 16,000 families with assistance

CRAterre research group – share knowledge of best practices in earthen architecture, including human settlements, housing and improving the living conditions of societies

Shelter Forum – shelter community of practice sharing knowledge from around the world about humanitarian shelter and settlements, including presentations from CARE shelter teams