Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements

Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements
First semester
Main language of instruction: English

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are available by appointment through email.



Emilio Hormias

Daniel Ledesma

Gonzalo Sanchez Terran

Veronica Sanchez Carrera

Andreas Schiffer

Paul Cabrera

This course in Humanitarian Shelter and Settlement in Emergency is offered in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The course explore how international agencies respond to displacement crisis for sudden natural disasters. This course draws upon a team of experienced lecturers on the field, working on International Relief Institutions.

Emergency situations, resettlement and growth of cities can happen in complex situations and multiple scenarios. The basic needs of a population in a critical situation must be satisfied considering the context, the situation and culture of the inhabitants. Despite the complexity and urgency to meet these basic needs, we must bear in mind that a process of building a settlement is being carried out.


This course is a blend of theory and practical learning which will equip participants with the necessary skills to lead and coordinate Shelter Clusters in the field, in the context of a Natural Disaster, so as to provide a predictable and high quality shelter humanitarian response.


  • 05 - Aquire a methodolgy based on interdisciplinary criteria in order to develop sustainable architectural projects.
  • 06 - Aquire a specialized knowledge in the management of materials and human resources for each project development
  • 07 - Be capable of aplying to a specific project the knowledge acquired.
  • 08 - The capacity to develop planing tecniques of projects developed by interdisciplinary profesionals of cooperation organizations.
  • 18 - Be capable of proposing action plans to prevent human and material disasters
  • 19 - To propose and develop constructive techniques based on local cultures and materials
  • 21 - Saber aplicar los conocimientos en técnicas constructivas low-cost, fundamentales y universales, aplicables a todos aquellos países en fase de desarrollo o afectados por catástrofes naturales y humanas.
  • 22 - To know how to adapt construction materials in order to develop alternative, sustainable, and low-cost construction techniques
  • 23 - To be albe to elaborate a critical analysis of development projects at all scales implemented by international cooperation agencies and local entities.
  • 24 - To know how to manage projects of different scales with the objective of prioritizing individual interventions in multidisciplinary tasks
  • 26 - To be capable of developing, through a critical analysis, a manual that defines from a systemic point of view the priority of intervention for projects developed by international cooperation agencies.

Learning outcomes

It will prepare participants with an overview on Shelter Relief Programme, deepening further in the assessment and evaluation, the plan of action, the logistics and the settlement options that include architectural design and low tech technologies applied on shelter. Participants will be also given practical information on designing shelter in recovery programmes.

At the end of the course, participants will have acquired strategic and practical knowledge of shelter coordination policies, methods, tools and procedures in the humanitarian response system. Participants will be prepared to apply architectural and constructive solutions in a sustainable manner from relief and recovery. Sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques to manage water will be learned.


1. Humanitarian Program Cycle (HPC) - (e.g. Red Cross). ENABLERS FOR THE HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM CYCLE: coordination, info management; preparedness, coordinated assessments, strategic plan, resource mobilization, implementation and monitoring, operational peer review, evaluation.

2. DISASTER AND RISK MANAGEMENT. Disaster, vulnerability; International Response System (History, balance)

3. CLUSTER COORDINATION COUNTRY LEVEL (e.g. Spanish Agency for International Development cooperation).

4. Needs and Situational Analysis. Deployments. MIRA Process, Approach and outputs.

5. EMERGENCY PROJECT CYCLE MANAGEMENT. Evolution of strategy, Strategic Framework. (e.g. OCHA).


7. APPEALS. Flash appeals, consolidated appeals. Gender Makers. ONLINE PROJECT SYSTEM.

8. ARCHITECTURE IN REFUGEE CAMPS. Needs and situational analysis, Strategic Planning, Tools.


Teaching and learning activities

In person

 Lectures, text analysis, class discussions and writing sessions.

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

Observation of each student

1. Participation in class

2. Analytical skills and ability to develop eventual proposals that are capable of providing

specific solutions to the problems raised

3. Ability to develop teamwork and leadership skills

4. Ability to integrate in the student’s own project/exercise what has been learnt during

the lectures.

5. Ability to put forward in public the work and/or research developed during the course


Bibliography and resources

Basic bibliography listed below, class material will be provided prior.


UNHCR. The state of world’s refugees 2012.

OCHA Transformative Agenda


UNHCR_Hand book Emergency

USAID_Filed Operation Guide

IFRC_Shelter safety handbook

IFRC_Kit shelter

IFRC_Plastic_Sheeting_2007; IFRC_Tents; IFRC_Family Tents; IFRC_Timber

IFRC_Transitional Shelters-Eight designs; IFRC_Postdisaster shelter


UNICEF_TLS compendium

UNHABITAT_Building with Winds

UNHCR_Collective Centre Guidelines 2010; UNHCR_Family Tents;

UNHCR_operational protection in camps and settlements

NRC_Urban Shelter Guidelines


Camp Address Prov Guide

Fire Safety and Winterisation Leaflet 2005


Cash transfer programming in emergencies. CALP and ODI (HPN).