Open Courses

e-Shelter in Urban Emergencies


Aid agencies have struggled to effectively respond to recent urban emergencies, with many of their shelter staff lacking the necessary knowledge and expertise in urban response. An urban emergency is much more complex than many rural or camp-focused emergencies. The kind of response required is greatly affected by the type of disaster and the different urban environments, whether huge cities; medium sized towns; peri-urban or slum areas. Aid agencies must adapt their work dramatically in urban responses, as their available resources are often dwarfed by those of existing service providers.

It is crucial for effective urban disaster response to build strong relations with national and municipal authorities as well as private sector service suppliers, and to work within existing legislation and long term plans for the cities.

Working with communities is as important as ever, but communities are less tightly defined and engagement becomes more complex: communities are unlikely to be geographically-identified but instead based around common interests or, for instance, income opportunities. Typical emergency Shelter responses are often inappropriate in urban areas: local authorities and existing infrastructure must be respected; camp setups are not always an appropriate solution or physically possible as space is limited and land ownership disputed.

This on-line Shelter in Urban Emergencies course has been developed with the support and guidance of experienced Shelter practitioners from leading humanitarian agencies. It will help Shelter humanitarians with limited experience of working in an urban context to explore and develop the necessary skills and knowledge to work effectively in the early stages of an urban emergency.


The target audience for this course are Shelter humanitarians, with practical experience in the field. Participants should have an interest in working in an urban emergency response and have some experience in the humanitarian and/or development sector. This course presupposes a working knowledge of basic humanitarian principles.


This course builds upon the material covered in our Urban Humanitarianism course which participants must have previously attended.

Sessions covered will include:
- Shelter standards & guidelines
- Housing, land and property issues
- Partnerships
- Reconstruction and recovery
- Technical shelter solutions in urban contexts


The duration of the facilitated on-line course is 6 consecutive weeks. All activities take place on-line, but it is expected that you spend around 1 hr per working day or five hours per week on participating in team activities and completing individual tasks.

All the activities are asynchronous, so there aren’t fixed times when you need to be on-line to meet with all the others in the group. Yet, with plenty of discussions it often feels like real time, with the added advantage that you can take a little longer to formulate your contributions. The asynchronous model means that you can log in when convenient for you, whether that is during the working day, in the evening at home or while traveling. However, you need to work on the same topics in the same weeks as other participants so you will need to access the on-line learning site regularly to contribute.

The most important thing is that participants are fully committed to completing the course and sharing their own experiences with the other participants they will be working with. The maximum number of participants is 24.

Scholarships are available for national staff working in emergencies and who have less access to funds or means of payment. We ask that participants who wish to apply send their CV and a rational stating why they are applying for the scholarship.

It is reccomened that you have attended either our face to face or on-line Urban Humanitarianism course before attending either the WASH or Shelter in Urban Emergencies modules. If you wish to attend this module without attending one of these courses then please contact for more information.

Terms and Conditions

For full RedR UK terms and conditions, click here

Course Overview

Course Length
40 days
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