When a disaster strikes, shelter is often one of the most urgent needs.

Shelter - Mozambique

In a major disaster, hundreds of thousands of homes can be devastated. Emergency shelter protects vulnerable people from danger, suffering and exploitation following a crisis, whether man-made or the result of a natural hazard.

When houses are destroyed, people don’t just lose their homes. They lose their largest financial and social assets. They lose their sense of belonging and family heritage. Their home may also be their workplace, so they may lose their ability to earn a living.

How does CARE respond to shelter needs?

CARE works with communities and partners to provide emergency shelter in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and we support people to rebuild or repair safer and more resilient homes.

Our shelter programming is not just about tents or construction. We address lack of shelter in a range of other ways, including:

  • Supporting incomes and livelihoods
  • Providing cash for shelter
  • Giving people access to tenure and ownership rights
  • Providing technical assistance and training
  • Settlement-level infrastructure and community projects

You could help CARE provide emergency shelter in crisis situations

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South Pentecost shelter recovery

Self-recovery in Vanuatu

Supporting self-recovery

Central to our approach to shelter is the principle of self-recovery. The people who are affected by disasters are the first on the scene, and the most important stakeholders. The self-recovery approach was used for an award-winning project in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan (2013).

We support people to have choice and agency over how their homes are rebuilt and repaired. We work closely with local experts and partners to find local solutions and ensure community needs are met.

Roslyn, Vanuatu

Roslyn is the Community Disaster and Climate Change focal point in Bay Barrier, Vanuatu. As part of her role she shares cyclone warnings and preparedness advice to her community and assists in dividing up the donated items fairly in the community. Here Roslyn stands outside her reconstructed kitchen with donated hoe. Tools were donated as part of the response by CARE and Shelter Box after Tropical Cyclone Harold decimated the country in April 2020.

Roslyn, Vanuatu

Focus on women and girls

Also core to our shelter work is a strong focus on women and girls, who are disproportionately affected in a humanitarian context. Existing gender roles and power dynamics most often discriminate against women and girls, and create significant obstacles to their ability to access safe housing.

We are a global leader on gender and shelter programming. We build the specific needs of women and girls into the design of shelter programmes, ensuring that women and girls are empowered to play a role in rebuilding and restoring their homes.

CARE’s Global Shelter Team

CARE’s Global Shelter Team is hosted in London by CARE International UK. The team provides technical support to CARE’s Country Offices on shelter programming, as well as representing CARE on the global stage as part of the Global Shelter Cluster. We have dedicated research capacity, and are currently exploring the wider impacts of shelter on health and mental health.