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Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

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Guidelines for Temporary Shelter

This Basic Guide enables professionals and experts working in different health areas to address, in a timely manner, the needs inherent to caring for a displaced or refugee population during a crisis. The Basic Guide is designed as a set of questions to give an idea of the appropriate actions or response principles required for these situations.

This Basic Guide is not a substitute for disaster preparedness or planning to comprehensively address emergencies involving persons displaced by natural or manmade disasters.

Information on the Basic Guide


No. of persons



Urban areas


Rural areas

Children ages 0-4


Children ages 5-15

Sick persons

Pregnant women

Injured persons

Persons over 60

Professions and trades


Who will supply the food? What will it cost?

How will the food be transported? What will it cost?

Based on the demographic data, how much food will I need per week?

How many calories will I provide per person per day and what percentage of the daily requirement? 

How will I investigate nutritional status?

How will I investigate existing nutritional deficiencies? Specifically, which ones?

Do I have someone to run the nutrition program? 

Do I have someone to control costs and make the purchases?

What fuel will be used for cooking? What will it cost? 

How will that fuel arrive? What will it cost? 

Based on the demographic data, how much fuel will be needed per week?

How am I going to organize food preparation? By family? By group? Through a community kitchen?

How many meals will I provide a day? What is the schedule?

How will food be supplied? Individually or in community kitchens?

How will I supply additional food to vulnerable groups?

How will I keep records on the additional food distributed?


How will water be supplied?

Will it be sufficient?

What will the water use per person be?

How will the water be treated and how often?

How will the water be stored in the dwelling?

How often will the tanks and containers be washed?

What educational programs will I have on storing, handling, and conserving drinking water?

Where will the water come from? Is this a permanent source?

How far away is it?

How will I implement water quality control?

If it is pumped in, what system will be used? Will I have logistical support?

How will the water supply chain be controlled from start to finish, i.e. from the source to the home?

How will I maintain the tanks? Who will be in charge of this?


How will I dispose of excreta and liquid waste?

What plumbing will be available for managing this waste?

Will there be enough room to dig latrines? What is the level of the water table and the make-up of the soil?

Will the latrines be far enough away from the water sources?

What were the defection and disposal habits of the persons in the shelter? 

What rodent control program will I have?

How am I going to dispose of garbage? Using what method? 

What internal trash collection system will I have in the lodging?

Will I have special collection sites? Will garbage be collected in plastic bags?

Who will be responsible for overseeing garbage and excreta disposal and for cleanup?

What educational programs in environmental sanitation will I implement?

How will I control bugs? 


How will I house the population? What system will I use? What will it cost?

What type of dwellings do I have available? How much do they cost and how are they funded?

What type of design will I use? How far away will the lodging be?

What type of materials will I use? Are they available on-site?

How will I manage storm drainage?

Is there a risk of fire in the design?

How will I maintain them and keep them clean while they are in use?

How many people will I have in each? Will this prevent overcrowding?


What type of medical services will I have in the camp?

How will I keep medical records and what oversight system will I implement?

How will I provide medical care to the people, in particular maternal and childcare services?

How will medical materials, supplies, and drugs be managed and where?

Who will be responsible for managing medical and nursing care in the shelter?

What vaccination system will I use in the lodging?

What disease prevention and health promotion programs will I implement? 

What logistical issues will I have for the delivery of medical services?

What preventive steps will I have to take in the temporary housing?

What vaccines will I administer after the health census?

What health education programs, specifically in health promotion and disease prevention, will I implement?

What medical bodies will support me in providing care for the ill and in disease prevention?

Who will manage the oral rehydration programs?

What will the community’s level of involvement be? 


How certain am I that the food and other materials needed to operate the temporary housing will arrive?

Where will I store the food and other materials needed to run the temporary shelter?

How many days will I have to store it for and how will it be controlled? 

What mode of transportation will I use? Who will cover that cost?

What records will I keep and who will manage the inventory and warehouse? 

What type of communications equipment will be installed? 

How will I provide schooling and recreation? 

Who will I work with from the community and how?

How will I monitor the progress made?

What short-, medium-, and long-term plans will I formulate?


Department of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

Tel: (202) 974-3434

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Regional Office of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel: +1 (202) 974-3000  Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663