Supporting the people who do shelter

To support the provision of shelter assistance after major disasters requiring international assistance, the IFRC provides training and support to a global roster of shelter experts.

Shelter at the household and community level

The history of construction shows that households and communities have always been able to evolve their individual houses and habitat based on their own resources and needs, and adapting to contextual constraints, local climatic conditions and natural risks.

After disasters, damaged homes are typically repaired and temporary shelter constructed by the affected population, either with their own know-how or through the use of local construction specialists. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) supports affected households and communities to lead this process themselves, by adopting participatory reconstruction approaches, supporting the bearers of local knowledge and enabling, through specific strategic and technical support, capacity buiding in the housing sector.

The volunteers and staff of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, together with technical experts provide support and advice on appropriate and safe construction.

This can be done through practical demonstrations involving local construction specialists, simple posters and manuals and on the job training. Where possible, a participatory approach to safe shelter awareness is used in at-risk areas to enable vulnerable households and communities to identify shelter risks and share simple solutions that can be used to improve homes and neighbourhoods.

Shelter at the national level
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff are trained in shelter principles and methodologies so that they are better prepared to help affected households and communities. Professional training in the correct use of tents and the standard shelter relief kits helps them to understand how households can best use this assistance to rebuild destroyed or damaged houses.

Through national and international workshops and trainings, shelter experts share experiences from other countries and analyse how to improve their own work. Training in shelter relief is also provided to other relief personnel with expertise in health, water and sanitation, logistics and disaster management to ensure a common understanding of shelter activities as part of comprehensive disaster preparedness and response.

Global and regional level
To support the provision of shelter assistance after major disasters requiring international assistance, the IFRC provides training and support to a global roster of shelter experts drawn from interested National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. These experts are deployed as part of IFRC teams to support the National Society in the affected country.

Skills and expertise shared through these trainings include

  • the provision of shelter technical assistance
  • information management
  • interagency coordination
  • specific guidance on environmental impact, housing land and property rights
  • project management.

A number of these trainings are undertaken in collaboration with United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and specialized technical institutes.

In partnership with Oxford Brookes University the IFRC Shelter Technical Training (Shelter and Settlement in Emergencies, Natural Disasters) has become a certified Masters-level credit-rated course. The IFRC STT is a competency based, assessed course worth 10 Masters level credits. Credits are also recognized internationally and the IFRC STT is equivalent to level 7 on the European Qualifications Framework (EQCA). On the European Credit Framework, two UK credits are worth one European credit (ECTS), so our course is the equivalent of 5 ECTS.

More tools and guidelines

Shelter library

The Shelter department library is an archive that contains technical guidance and numerous ...

Useful links