Worldwide: Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building

Project NAME Knowledge exchange and capacity building in humanitarian shelter
SCOPE  The project aims to build local capacities in extremely vulnerable countries by partnering local researchers and students with experts and students from the BeNeLux Universities. This will increase local technical knowledge in sheltering while at the same time better informing international actors about adequacy and appropriateness of interventions in these particular contexts.
DURATION 36  months, May 2013 to  May 2016


With political instability on the rise and an increased frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, the numbers of people affected worldwide are increasing continually. Providing adequate sheltering solutions for people who have lost or were forced to leave their homes has become a major issue for humanitarian responders.

Unfortunately, some regions in the world experience disaster after disaster. People who have lost their home often invest the very last reserves they have to rebuild, or depend on humanitarian shelter interventions to come to their support. Some of the organizations try to work with locally sourced materials and local construction knowledge and risk reproducing the previous vulnerabilities. Others that rely on imported materials, introduce foreign structures to the local context which are often not adapted and appropriate for the climate, culture and other context conditions and therefore equally at risk of failing to meet the needs.

It is in the first place the lack of context-specific technical knowledge of materials and construction techniques as well as lack of reliable information on the appropriateness of shelter solutions for different contexts that repeatedly put considerable sums invested in shelter at risk, therefore further exposing the already vulnerable populations.

To reduce these vulnerabilities, a continuous process of research, learning, information sharing and knowledge exchange is essential to help fill the gaps in knowledge and expertise on adequate local shelter solutions. Furthermore, a continued effort to disseminate acquired knowledge towards international shelter experts as well as local practitioners and builders, is key to build local coping capacities and make future interventions in highly vulnerable contexts more effective and sustainable.



  • Knowledge exchange and a continuous process of learning is supported through a network of partnerships and collaborations between universities and researchers from the Belgium The Netherlands and Luxemburg and the identified extremely vulnerable countries, informing and improving local building practices.
  • Accurate documentation and technical analysis of context specific knowledge and technical information on material aspects and construction techniques, offers the technical support shelter practitioners need to make fast and well informed choices for their sheltering activities in emergencies as well as during early recovery or reconstruction.
  • Research results will be used for various capacity building initiatives within the Red Cross movement i.e the shelter technical training as well as technical workshops and trainings in the respective countries, to increase knowledge and expertise in sheltering
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