Shelter Projects 2015 - 2016: Case studies of humanitarian shelter and settlement responses


The year 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of the Global Shelter Cluster, the inter-agency coordination mechanism for shelter response. During these ten years, coordination has improved in consistency, shelter responses have grown in scale, and there are more people with experience in shelter programming, but people continue to lose their dwellings and be displaced due to conflict and natural disasters. Global humanitarian shelter needs continue to greatly exceed the capacity and resources to respond.

In recognition of the need for better shelter programming at scale, often with limited resources, Shelter Projects 2015-2016 has been developed as a core product of the Global Shelter Cluster, to help us learn from the past so that we may better respond in the future. It has been developed through a truly collaborative effort of a working group composed of international shelter experts from several humanitarian organizations and institutions.

This is the sixth edition in the series of publications that started in 2008. It contains 31 new shelter case studies and 12 overviews of responses, contributing to a repository of over 200 project examples and response overviews, from programmes of over 50 agencies in around 70 countries overall. As in past editions, the case studies in this book vary greatly in scale, cost, duration and project design. Although they are not statistically representative of all shelter projects, this growing body of knowledge represents a source of learning, includes many years of experience of nearly 400 field practitioners who have contributed, and reflects the highly contextual nature of individual shelter and settlements responses.

The objective of this publication is to share experiences of humanitarian shelter and settlement responses, paying close attention to the strengths, weaknesses and potential lessons that can be extracted from each. We hope that this edition will represent a source of inspiration and reflection, and that it will contribute to having to “reinvent the wheel” a little less.

Previous case studies have been used for several purposes by a diverse audience working in humanitarian shelter and settlements. In reviewing past editions, the primary uses of Shelter Projects were found to be:

  • As a reference or set of examples to inform shelter programming or strategy development;

  • For advocacy purposes, using precedents in discussions with governments and local stakeholders in affected countries;

  • For workshops and training of national staff of several organizations, as well as cluster coordination and technical teams;

  • For research purposes, both by academics and students.

Beyond the case studies themselves, the process and inclusion used to develop them are important. Engaging those who implemented projects to draft case studies encourages not only self-reflection and learning, but also helps to ensure that practical and operational challenges are included in the case studies. Engaging agencies and many people in their production and review ensures broader inclusion and investment in their learnings.

By examining the shelter-related needs of populations affected by natural disasters and conflict, compared to the total people reached with shelter and non-food items (NFI) interventions and the funding received by the sector in the past two years, it is clear that there is a gap between the scale of needs and the funding and capacity of the humanitarian community to respond to such needs. Although shelter actors universally recognize that affected people remain the first responders (and should be supported to address their own shelter needs), lack of resources clearly hinders agencies from supporting people to help themselves.

The introduction of this edition of Shelter Projects contains a discussion of the major natural disasters, conflict-induced and complex crises in 2015 and 2016. Although natural disasters continue to affect millions of people worldwide, responses to conflict are assuming a much larger scale, both in terms of displaced individuals and shelter needs for the affected populations, primarily due to the protracted nature of several ongoing crises. These include, but are not limited to, the Syrian crisis, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Lake Chad and Ukraine. The Shelter Sector recognizes the need to be better prepared to respond to such crises, which in some cases have significant, regional, impacts.

The website ( has been updated with the new case studies and overviews in this edition, and provides an easy way of searching through the large repository of examples and opinions collected since the first edition. Whether you are reading Shelter Projects as a reference to work on a particular response, to inform better programming, are studying it for research or are merely looking at the pictures, we hope that you find it as informative as we have done in compiling it. However you read it, reflect on how the projects described within it represent an enormous amount of work by many hundreds of humanitarian workers, often working in challenging situations and with crisis-affected people, who find themselves in unexpected circumstances and often in extreme hardship.

The Global Shelter Cluster
Shelter Projects Working Group,
April 2017.

International Organization for Migration:

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