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Case Studies | February 25, 2020

Shelter, Settlement and Infrastructure Case Studies

A Spotlight on Innovation and Quality for Rebuilding Safe, Dignified and Resilient Homes and Communities

Here you will find a selection of short, compelling case studies that highlight diverse, challenging, innovative and impactful efforts in providing safe, dignified homes and settlement solutions for people in need in the wake of an emergency. From some of the world’s most pressing refugee crises to the aftermath of an earthquake or typhoon, see how CRS and its local partners addressed life-saving and long-term needs through approaches adapted for each local context, all the while upholding the dignity of those we serve, and encouraging their meaningful participation and leadership for their recovery.


Guinea - Strengthening of Health Systems
During the Ebola crisis in West Africa that started in 2014, CRS, with funding by Global Fund, undertook the rehabilitation, improvement and expansion of existing health infrastructure facilities in Guinea. The goal was to increase the functional efficiency of four key warehouse complexes that would lead to a strengthened national distribution system of equitable access of medicine and health products throughout the Guineans territory.

Madagascar - Remote Programming for Resilient Homes
Regular access to project sites was difficult due to the isolated areas and lack of funds to employ field staff, so a remote monitoring system was set up involving the communities and families themselves to ensure accountability of program implementation.

Madagascar – Build Back Better: Adapting Design
CRS supported Madagascar’s extremely poor and vulnerable communities hit by Cyclone Enawo in 2017. CRS supported families to reconstruct homes with local materials and improved disaster-resistant techniques; and improve their access to potable water and agricultural seeds, tools and technical skills.

Malawi - Constructing Homes by Adapting Traditional Building Resilient Strategy for Living with Floods
Displaced families aided to return to more resilient homes through adapted construction designs and learning how to protect themselves from the effects of flooding.

Nigeria – Area-based Programming Ensures Comprehensive Support for Communities Affected by Conflict
For displaced communities affected by the Boko Haram crisis, CRS and partners worked together to deliver a holistic, area-based program that focused on improving water and sanitation conditions, as well as delivering safe, dignified housing and livelihoods support.

Sierra Leone – The Rebuilding of Education Infrastructure in Rural Areas Devastated by Crisis
Over an implementation period of nearly three years, CRS and its partners have upgraded 151 school facilities and critical local infrastructure in communities devastated by the lasting impacts of the country’s civil war, as well as the more recent Ebola crisis.

Sudan - Protracted Emergency Shelter Programming
Evolving shelter designs to meet the needs of long-term displaced people, and helping them to return home after conflict.

Uganda - Promoting Partnership and Inclusion in Emergency Programming
Refugee and host populations with high proportions of people with specific needs are engaged in decision making through strong community structures.

South and East Asia

Bangladesh - Piloting Construction Techniques to Improve Design: Mid-Term Shelters
Working with displaced families to design more robust temporary homes.

Bangladesh: Area-Based Approaches to Foster Community in Refugee Camps
In a pilot project in the massive refugee settlements for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, CRS and Caritas sought to improve living conditions through significant improvements to shelter water, sanitation, access routes, and disaster resilience. At the same time, we sought to build community cohesion through its program model that was later promoted to other sector partners.

India - Developing Locally Affordable Hazard Resistant Houses
Developing appropriate and resilient house designs to encourage uptake in highly vulnerable communities following Typhoons.

India - Introducing Sustainable Technologies, Creating Resilient Shelters
Creating a supply of sustainable construction materials for improved resilience in reconstruction through new techniques including Compressed Earth Stabilized Blocks.

Indonesia - Cash-Based Solutions in Shelter and Settlements
Using existing financial structures to support local markets and families to reconstruct.

Nepal - Technical Assistance for Recovery and Resilience
Supporting families to reconstruct earthquake resilient homes through a suite of technical assistance activities.

Nepal: Coordinating Nation-wide Housing Reconstruction Program for Earthquake Recovery
In the recovery following the catastrophic 2015 earthquake, CRS led the third phase of the Housing Recovery and Reconstruction Platform, to help families build resilient homes, and communities to institutionalize recovery and strengthened capacity for safe housing reconstruction.

Pakistan - Community Ingenuity in Self-Build Shelter Programming
Working with remote communities to maximize limited resources to prepare for winter.

Pakistan - Educational Facilities in Remote Settlements
Prioritizing reconstruction of vital remote community buildings to support the whole community.

Pakistan - Participatory Village Planning
Designing resilient homes and planning communities to increase resilience to seasonal flooding.

Philippines - Housing, Land and Property in Urban Transitional Settlements
Working with local authorities and civil society to secure land rights for urban typhoon Washi affected families.

Philippines - Renting vs. Hosting Assistance in Post-Crisis Urban Areas
Helping displaced families to find the most appropriate temporary homes that support their recovery and contribute to improving housing stocks in urban areas after Typhoon Haiyan.

Philippines - Salvage to Build Back Better
Ensuring salvaged materials from destroyed home following Typhoon Bopha are used to improve resilience for affected families.

Philippines - Urban Transitional Shelters Inspired by Traditional Building
Maximizing local building cultures to ensure appropriate transitional homes are available for the most vulnerable after Typhoon Haiyan.

Sri Lanka - Owner-Driven Construction of Permanent Housing
Facilitating family choice in reconstruction through provision of training, technical assistance and quality monitoring, rather than direct construction.

Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Commitment to Long-Term Housing Solutions for Returnees 
Supporting government housing upgrade and reconstruction initiatives to facilitate families to return to their homes following conflict.

Gaza: Return and Reconstruction After Conflict
CRS provided transitional shelter assistance to 484 families in Gaza whose homes were completely destroyed in the conflict. This assistance allowed beneficiaries to return to their neighborhoods to begin rebuilding their homes, while living in an adequate, safe and dignified transitional shelter.

Gaza: Shelter Design Competition Promotes Local Solutions for Emergency Recovery
In its approach to providing a flexible shelter response to assist Gazans in the event of another conflict, CRS and its partner Bayader held a shelter design competition whereby contractors, architects and engineers, recent graduates and students submitted drawings for emergency and transitional shelters. The results led to flexible shelter solutions for people’s shelter and emergency recovery.

Iraq - Core Housing Units for Post-Conflict Returnees
CRS and its partner supported Iraqi families returning home after Iraqi had retaken Islamic State-held in the Ninewa Plains. With many houses structurally damaged or destroyed, families struggled to return home, as they had nowhere to live. With the support of USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, CRS piloted 37 Transitional Core Housing Units in three villages in Ninawa Plains. 

Ukraine - Shelter Repair Cash Grants for Conflict-Damaged Homes
During the 2014 conflict, which had displaced more than 2.5 million people in the Crimean and Donbas regions of Eastern Ukraine, CRS and its local partner provided cash grants and technical assistance to 908 families in both urban and rural areas to repair their homes that had been damaged, ensuring they would have a safe place to live. 

Latin America and the Caribbean

Ecuador - Locally Produced Pre-Fabricated Transitional Shelters for Remote Communities
Using prefabricated designs to overcome material supply and transportation challenges for remote communities.

Haiti - Camp Closures through Market Based Cash Transfers for Rental Subsidies
Working with families and communities to help them to return home from camps through rental support and life skills following the 2010 earthquake.

Haiti - Community Transformation towards Resilient Future
CRS and its partners helped families in the Grand Ravine area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti - and those whose homes and community were totally destroyed in a catastrophic earthquake - to rebuild safe and dignified living conditions. Taking a comprehensive approach, they sought to ensure improved infrastructure, access to secure housing, provision of basic services, revitalization of the economy and a reinforcement of owner-driven solutions.

Haiti - Partnership to Restore Vital Hospital Facilities in Port-Au-Prince
Rebuilding a resilient hospital through collaboration with local contractors and ensuring improved healthcare for vulnerable families after the 2010 earthquake.

Haiti – Cash-Based Interventions in Shelter: The Vendor Effect
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, where 120,000 homes were severely damaged or destroyed in the country’s South and the Grand’Anse departments, CRS supported rebuilding efforts through a cash-based response. The programming supported the training of technicians, and families’ ability to purchase shelter materials and/or have the means to pay for shelter. 


Watch these videos that take you to some of the more recent CRS emergency efforts to provide people with safe homes and communities:

Uganda: See the impact and new approach to refugee assistance and programming in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi settlement, now home to hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees.

Bulgaria: In Bulgaria, a Syrian refugee family plants its roots and tries to open a bakery. See this snapshot of life as refugees integrate into local Bulgarian society with a diverse range of social services by Caritas Sofia and Catholic Relief Services.

Greece: Take a behind-the-scenes look at efforts to provide shelter to thousands of refugees stranded in Athens. Follow Greek architects with CRS, Caritas Hellas and Caritas Athens as they scout vacant buildings across the city to transform into shelters for refugees as they transit to countries that have granted them asylum.

Greece: Meet Talal Restmo and his family from Aleppo, as they find safe refuge in Greece after fleeing the devastating Syrian war. In this last chapter of their painful, months-long journey from Syria, they prepare for new beginnings in Europe.

Nepal: For CRS emergency responders in Nepal, see how the mountainous backdrop presented incredible challenges, and called for creativity and ingenuity to reach people in need of help.

Nepal: Short clip showing CRS helicopter shelter supply distribution in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal.

General / Global: See how a signature approach to emergency shelter and settlement recovery can have a transformative impact in people’s ability rebuild their homes, communities and lives.