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 projects focus on understanding and supporting people’s own choices and efforts to rebuild and self-recover following natural disasters. The overall aim of the project is to inform humanitarian shelter practice and improve its impact.

Read more

Why we must work with refugees from Myanmar on mid-term shelter in the Bangladesh refugee camps - James Morgan, Shelter and Site Management Specialist, 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, Head of Humanitarian, 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 shelter team experts Bill Flinn, Holly Schofield and Luisa Miranda Morel on the sectors 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 PSB 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.

PSB2 What we are doing and where we are going with the research - blog giving an overview of the PSB project as it begins its second phase of the programme, gathering its publications to date and reaffirming the objectives and activities

Shelter in emergencies: What we can learn from self-recovery in Vanuatu? - five months after cyclone Pam caused devastation on the island nation of Vanuatu, CARE's Bill Flinn reflects on strategic approachs to shelter recovery

Blogs See all

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…
Why humanitarian ‘experts’ need to invite women from disaster-affected communities to our workshops and forums
As a researcher, I see that humanitarian practitioners listen to and involve local women and women’s groups when delivering programmes on the ground – or at least, if they don’t,…
Shelter in Cox’s Bazar: A refugee-led approach to safe shelter
“Here, we have six seasons,” explained CARE’s Shelter Programme Manager, Shah Suja, as we raced along the road that connects Cox’s Bazar town to the refugee camps. Those “six seasons”…

Publications See all

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…
Supporting urban recovery after Cyclone Idai: Beira, Mozambique
This paper presents the findings from a real time research project which sought to understand the impact of Cyclone Idai on urban households and communities as well as the options…
Humanitarian shelter and the ethics of self-recovery: A discussion paper
This discussion paper explores the ethics of balancing building back safer with respecting people’s autonomy, and their right to choose their own route to recovery, with reference to a ‘self-recovery’…

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 

Promoting Safer Building - read more on the website of the action research programme that aims to achieve safer, more resilient reconstruction of housing after disasters

Promoting Safer Building information page on the Global Shelter Culster website

Self-recovery from disasters: an interdisciplinary perspective - a report which investigated how disaster-affected households in low- and middle-income countries 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.

Resilience scan: January-March 2017 - summarises writing and debates in the field of resilience during the fourth quarter of 2016. It synthesises the insights in terms of five characteristics of resilience: awareness, diversity, self-regulation, integration and adaptiveness

Disaster risk reduction edition of the Youth Science-Policy Interface publication - captures and promotes the role of young people in sharing knowledge of best practices and implementation of frameworks on sustainable development, specifically in disaster-related contexts

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