Emergency Response & Recovery

About Shelter and Settlements


Immediate shelter is paramount in emergencies. In the days and weeks after a crisis, CRS distributes tarpaulins, rope and other building materials that provide short-term protection from the elements. We also offer rapid, affordable, transitional housing that is culturally appropriate, meets international standards and can be expanded or upgraded to permanent shelter. 

In every situation, we design our response in close collaboration with the community and in consideration of traditional architecture, cultural acceptability and locally available materials.

Our approach to shelter has positioned us as a leader in the recovery process, especially our use of community action planning and shelter demonstrations to tackle challenging issues of land ownership and “no build” zones.


  • Locally driven: Whenever possible, we use local materials, workers, technologies and skills. Maximizing local resources enables us to quickly serve large numbers of people in a cost-effective manner. We involve women and other vulnerable groups in the design and location of shelters, working closely with our network of Catholic church partners.

  • Tailored: There is no one size fits all approach. CRS’ shelter solutions and approaches are suited to the specific context of each disaster. We most often either distribute construction materials directly or give people vouchers or cash grants so they can purchase their own materials. 

  • Safe and durable: We follow the principle of “build back safer.” To ensure our shelters will withstand future disasters, we provide technical assistance, such as the building of demonstration units and training on construction techniques.

  • Integrated: We integrate our shelter and settlement programming with our activities to restore livelihoods, improve water and sanitation, protect highly vulnerable populations, and help communities become more resilient to future disasters.