Global Communities is a recognized international leader in providing shelter and housing to disaster and conflict-affected families, drawing on nearly seven decades of experience as an organization originally founded to focus on housing.

Global Communities’ shelter programs provide protection from the weather, increase privacy and the ability to live in dignity, particularly for women and girls, and support basic living needs for people affected by conflict or disasters. By providing this security — even for the short- or medium-term — we save lives and enable people to focus on addressing their other needs. We do this through a range of activities, including providing kits of non-food items for household use, shelter kits for emergency protection, sealing kits to weatherize existing shelters, and rehabilitation and repairs to individual homes and collective centers where groups of displaced people reside. We are also widely known for our work in transitional shelter. Our transitional shelters are durable temporary homes that meet global standards and enable a family to live and thrive during the phase between tents and tarpaulins in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and permanent, fully constructed housing.

Where possible, we design settlement or neighborhood interventions to complement our shelter work so that greater numbers of people benefit. Settlement-level interventions can include improving roads and sidewalks and incorporating shared spaces such as playgrounds or community centers. We also include interventions that reduce the risks of further disasters, for example, by improving stormwater drainage to mitigate against flooding or landslides. We carry out these interventions in coordination with community members, local authorities and other humanitarian assistance and development organizations.

Around the world, Global Communities has drawn on our roots as a housing-focused organization to provide shelter in response to emergencies, aiding communities to resume their lives. For example, in Nepal, we distributed 5,500 corrugated galvanized iron sheets, nails and building wire to 660 households, enabling them to construct durable shelter to withstand monsoon rains and winds. In 2007 in Peru, we constructed 700 transitional shelters for 3,500 people, among other projects. For the 2008 Indonesia earthquake response, we locally sourced and provided 8,000 transitional shelters, creating employment opportunities at the same time.

Northern Triangle of Central America

To respond to the shelter needs of communities affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, Global Communities is providing construction materials and working with local contractors and household members to repair existing shelters and construct timber-based transitional shelters for families whose shelters are too damaged to be safely repaired. To support humanitarian coordination and information management, Global Communities is also co-leading the Emergency Shelter Cluster in Honduras.


Global Communities has been implementing shelter programming in Syria since 2015 with the generous support of funders from the United Nations Humanitarian Fund to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the UN Migration Agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Our current program, funded by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, includes shelter and settlements interventions, including rehabilitation, disaster risk reduction and winterization activities, to meet the critical shelter needs of an estimated 165,240 individuals in northwestern Syria. Rehabilitation of shelters and collective centers will prioritize the privacy and dignity of individuals and be designed with the input of communities. Through 2020, we have implemented 12 programs providing much needed shelter assistance to 480,258 people in Northwest Syria.

To support those who need to rebuild their residences, often after they have been displaced from their homes, we have repaired or rehabilitated 2,190 household shelters benefiting 13,879 people, and 38 collective shelters, benefiting 3,142 people. These repairs include rebuilding walls, patching roofs and fixing doors and windows. We have distributed a variety of kits to people in need across Northwest Syria, including 29,100 shelter kits and 12,200 tarpaulin kits to repair and fortify shelters. We have further provided cash for rent to 881 newly displaced vulnerable families, ensuring they can afford temporary housing while they secure longer-term shelter solutions.


On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, resulting in the loss of more than 230,000 lives and massive destruction. Global Communities responded immediately. With funding from USAID, Global Communities launched a major recovery program that focused on large-scale rubble removal and recycling, cash-for-work, construction of transitional shelters and a new type of disaster response using a neighborhood approach.

For example, Global Communities implemented the groundbreaking $8.6 million USAID-funded urban reconstruction program in the neighborhood of Ravine Pintade in Port-au-Prince. In just under 18 months, the integrated approach provided rubble removal and shelter building services, while working with the community on green spaces, plots for schools and proper access roads to cover the basics of sustainable urban improvement.

The program was successful in creating a livable neighborhood with adequate shelter, basic services and other physical improvements. Essential to that success were community mobilization and trust-building efforts, since the support and cooperation of residents were required in order to increase the amount of useful public space. Community mobilization was fundamental in the enumeration process, where local participation fostered consensus on the status of occupancy, tenure and family condition and needs, and in coming up with workable plans for temporary relocation of families while new shelters were built.

Our Approach

Global Communities’ shelter programming adheres to internationally recognized standards and best practices, ensuring that our services are in line with the humanitarian and Do No Harm principles. We also adhere to Sphere standards, and always take housing, land and property rights into consideration when designing and implementing shelter programs. Global Communities also strives to link our shelter activities with complementary humanitarian programming, such as training about good hygiene practices, providing emergency psychological first aid for recently displaced people to minimize trauma, or spurring local economies through workshops for small and medium enterprises engaged in service provision.


people in Northwest Syria receiving shelter assistance


years of experience as a housing-focused organization


shelter kits and 12,200 tarpaulin kits distributed to repair and fortify shelters in Syria