Research shows that support from aid agencies within the first year after a major disaster is likely to meet about 15% of shelter need and is often less. As a result, many people have to rebuild their homes without support - they "self-recover". With self-recovery, homes often incorporate the same vulnerabilities, poor building practice and hazardous siting as before the disaster. The opportunity to build healthier, better ventilated homes using local techniques and resources can also be missed. In the context of ever-increasing need for humanitarian assistance and grave constraints on humanitarian funding, there is an imperative to understand how communities self-recover and how best to improve support for that process.
The Global Shelter Cluster (GSC), the humanitarian coordination system co-led by IFRC and UNHCR, recognises supporting self-recovery as one of its Strategic Approaches. Consequently, projects and programmes that support survivor-led rebuilding are gaining momentum in the shelter sector. Self-recovery programmes will all be different, depending on the context. However, all self-recovery programmes must respect people's choices and priorities. For example, households must remain responsible for making key decisions such as shelter design and materials used for construction, and they must operate on their own timeframes.
Supporting self-recovery requires holistic approaches that include financial and / or technical and / or material support. As part of the project, guidance is being developed to support agencies with self-recovery programmes.
In October 2019, the team was awarded a grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Global Research Translations Award. The planned project activities build directly upon research and learning gathered in two previous GCRF awards that spanned 2016 to 2018. This earlier work led to the formation of the Global Shelter Cluster's Promoting Safer Building Working Group in 2018 and the ‘Informing Choice for Better Shelter’ protocol, a disaster response tool.
In October 2021, the self-recovery work was extended through a grant from the Higher Education Innovation Fund through Oxford Brookes University. This funding will allow for wider dissemination of the Guidance for Supporting Self-recovery that was developed with the GCRF project. CARE International UK and CRAterre are also working together to develop o shorter version of the Guidance.
The project is led by the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), Oxford Brookes University with close collaboration with CARE International UK. The Principal Investigator is Professor Cathrine Brun (CENDEP) and the project is managed by Charles Parrack (CENDEP) and Bill Flinn (CARE).
Other project partners are Habitat for Humanity, CRAterre and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with further cooperation from the International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the British Geological Survey (BGS) and a growing community of practice that includes NGOs, academics and policy-makers.
Self-recovery in action
Self-recovery reviews & discussion
Local Building Cultures
Wider impacts of shelter