It protects them from the elements, provides privacy, and allows them to maintain their dignity and daily rituals.
On the frontlines of new emergencies, UNHCR’s shelter teams deploy emergency tarpaulins and tents to protect thousands of families at short notice.
When displacement becomes more protracted, UNHCR provides more durable solutions, such as refugee housing units, to help improve security and stability. UNHCR also helps refugees build homes using local materials and expertise.
Internally displaced people and locals have built eco-friendly homes for themselves in Burkina Faso.
Mamounata Ouédraogo, a mother of six, is among the displaced Burkinabes who worked with local masons on a housing project supported by UNHCR.
Mother of four, Aissa Modi, walked for days to reach safety after her family was forced to flee their town near the unstable border area with Mali.
“We were not safe,” recalled Aissa. “Armed men came every week, often at night, on their motorcycles and stole all the valuable items we had – our cattle, our jewellery and even our clothes. I was afraid for my life.”
They sought refuge in the town of Ouallam, home to more than 2,700 internally displaced Nigeriens and more than 5,600 Malian refugees.
When they first arrived, Aissa lived with her elderly mother and her children in a flimsy shelter, with barely any protection from the elements.
“We had nothing. We were sleeping under a roof made of branches and, when it rained, we had nowhere to go,” she explained. “I was a homeless woman in my own country.”
With the rainy season approaching, UNHCR provided emergency shelters to 7,000 people, including Aissa’s family.
They received shelter kits including tarpaulins, mats, wood, ropes and construction tools to build simple yet sturdy shelters.
For now, Aissa is grateful for the shelter they have, which has made a big difference in their lives.
“For the first time since I fled, I feel like a proper citizen. I miss my land, but I feel like we are living in a village again,” she says.
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.