Redefining shelter: humanitarian sheltering.

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George, Jennifer Ward  ORCID logo
Guthrie, Peter 
Orr, John J 

Shelter is one of the most 'intractable problems' in humanitarian aid and yet there is little clarity on an overarching definition. Terminology for shelter and housing is often conflated, and the most prominent definition does not fully reflect recent progress in the Shelter and Settlements Sector. This paper explores the varying terminology utilised in definitions of shelter within humanitarian aid since 1990, reflecting on the concepts of 'shelter' and 'housing', alongside surrounding perceptions of 'house' versus 'home', and related measures of adequacy. The current, most prolific definition is also deconstructed, demonstrating ambiguity in some of terminology such as 'dignity' and 'privacy', and revealing that interpretation of this definition depends on the reader's knowledge. Lastly, a new definition of 'sheltering' is proposed, encompassing five key reflections: the concept of process over object; the inclusion of communities and individuals; the commonality of long-term sheltering; the wider effects of shelter; and the impacts on host communities and environment.

adequate shelter, definition of shelter, displacement, emergency shelter, enabled process, humanitarian aid, internally displaced persons, non-governmental organisation, post conflict, post disaster, refugee, self-recovery, settlements, shelter, sheltering, temporary housing, transitional settlement, transitional shelter, Humans, Relief Work, Housing
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L016095/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P013848/1)