Shelter after disaster: Facts and figures

How to build better with less? Monica Wolfe Murray explores new trends and enduring challenges in shelter provision.

Shelter is a basic human need. Yet at the end of 2015, over 100 million people remain homeless, while almost 1-in-4 people on the planet — more than 1.6 billion — live in inadequate informal settlements that are unsafe, overcrowded and lack basic services such as water and sanitation.

Securing adequate shelter is a complex process: lengthy, costly and not entirely predictable. At best, multiple factors — social, economic, environmental and cultural — work together to turn a ‘shelter’ into a ‘home’, and much of the process of creating a ‘home’ remains outside an individual’s or community’s power.