European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Shelter and Settlements

Azraq camp was opened to house the tens of thousands of new Syrian refugees crossing into Jordan. © International Medical Corps/Josh Harris

Why is this important?

Floods, earthquakes, cyclones or conflicts can destroy thousands of homes in an instant, leaving people powerless on the street.

Shelter is a basic human need and a critical for survival in most disasters. Beyond survival, shelter is necessary to provide security, personal safety and protection from the climate and to promote resistance to ill health and disease. It is much more than a roof and four walls. It is crucial for human dignity, to sustain family and community life, and to enable affected populations to recover from the impact of disaster. Shelter and settlements also play an essential role in reducing vulnerability and building communities’ resilience.

Humanitarian assistance supports households and communities to recover, for instance providing building materials and tools for temporary shelters so that people have a roof over their heads until permanent homes are ready. However, experience shows that basic and fragile transitional shelter often remains the only home for the world's poorest people for many years. These structures frequently serve as a foundation for future housing, which are expanded and reinforced. It is therefore crucial that proper materials are provided and correct building methods used from the outset.

How are we helping?

Shelter and settlements assistance is one of the main humanitarian sectors supported by the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, with funding of up to €180 million per year.

In disaster-prone areas around the world, the Commission is increasingly funding temporary housing designed to withstand at least small-scale natural disasters offering a good base for recovery, and giving shelter when homes are lost. The Commission has also recently published a set of Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements guidelines in order to ensure that vulnerable people's shelter needs are met in the an  optimal and efficient way.

In addition, the Commission has been funding the Global Shelter Cluster, a multi-agency initiative across the humanitarian shelter sector, which aims to strengthen cooperation of aid efforts and deliver faster, more suitable responses while improving the aid delivery in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

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