About us

We are a social enterprise with a mission to improve the lives of forcibly displaced persons by providing affordable temporary shelter and a dignified, safer life away from home.

Our impact

  • We shipped out 15,797 Better Shelter units.
  • 2,996 units of these were used in Covid-19 response in 22 countries.
  • We delivered shelters to a total of 36 countries (new destinations included Sweden, the Netherlands and Syria).
  • We collaborated with 24 organisations.
  • We held 150 online technical consultations.

COVID-19 response

We have been supporting partners with infrastructure for frontline staff and patients.

Last year, we shipped out nearly 3000 units to Covid-19 response programs in 22 countries, including Sweden, Tajikistan, Colombia and Italy.

Here, they serve as:

  • information hubs
  • quarantine wards
  • screening centres
  • triaging units
  • offices and changing rooms for medical staff.​

Structure

Structure is a new approach to shelter with which we aim to increase resilience among displaced communities by providing emergency shelter structures which can be locally upgraded.

Last year we started collaborating with Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), an Aga Khan Development Network agency, and SEEDS with the aim to develop and evaluate the Structure approach.

  • 50 Structures
  • 5 countries
  • 18 locations
  • 10 types of material

In 2021, we will scale up the Structure pilot program with partners, affected communities, and supporters to leverage local building practices with a minimum of prefabricated materials.

#CreateStructure

We developed a fundraising campaign to allow supporters to sponsor displaced families with a Structure. It launched in early 2021.

One Structure costs $365. This means that you can provide a family with a home for just a dollar a day for one year. Join us and learn more here.

6,500 shelters to Syria

The people of Syria continue to suffer the consequences of the war that entered its 10th year in 2020. 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance currently: more than 6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced and over 5.6 million are registered refugees.

Around 2.7 million people remain displaced in Northwest Syria, having fled fighting several times. In 2020 we shipped 6,500 Better Shelters to Northwest Syria where they will serve as family shelters as well as Covid-19 medical infrastructure.

“These shelters are delivering dignity and protection in addition to providing a better shelter. Everything around the world is improving to the better and it is time for the humanitarian community to think outside the box.”, Yakzan Shishakly, CEO, Maram Foundation for Relief & Development

Team work

The team demonstrated great entrepreneurship and friendship, with recorded engagement at record levels in 2020.

A tightly knit team stayed connected from home. Daily check-ins with all staff kept us connected when COVID-19 restrictions prevented us from meeting in the office.

We worked up a sweat! Our weekly exercise sessions, “Better Athletics”, kept us active whenever it was safe for the team to meet.

Wellbeing, safety and labour rights. Two team members took a course in wellbeing, safety and labour rights to make sure we stay healthy and happy despite the difficult times.

Better Shelter

Better Shelter RHU AB is a humanitarian innovation project and a social enterprise based in Stockholm, Sweden. Better Shelter is owned by the philanthropic Housing for All Foundation.

We exist for the sole purpose of improving the living conditions of forcibly displaced men, women and children. We are dedicated to changing the lives of those who have been forced to flee, by providing safer and more dignified temporary homes. Our vision is a world in which all people have a safe place to call home. 

The project, initiated in 2010 in partnership between Better Shelter, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR, was rolled out on a large scale in 2015.

Since then, we have provided more than 60,000 shelters in refugee camps, transit sites and emergency response programs in 60 countries in Europe, Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia.

The Better Shelter units are used not only as temporary shelter but also serve as communal infrastructure such as clinics, classrooms and child friendly spaces.

Collaboration and continuous innovation drive us forward. Working side by side with partners around the world give us the valuable opportunity to monitor quality, to understand partners’ shelter requirements and to keep developing the design based on real needs. We believe that effective and sensible shelter response requires both locally- and globally-made shelter solutions to address different context specific needs in protracted crises and emergencies around the world.

How we work

The Better Shelter has been developed over several years together with humanitarians, academic institutions and design practitioners, suppliers and experts in various fields. It has been rigorously tried and tested in the field as well as in labs to ensure compliance with Sphere standards and resistance to years’ of use in harsh weather conditions.

We develop our products according to real circumstances with context specific requirements in mind. Better Shelter collaborates closely with partners and supports them in determining the best suitability and application of our solutions. Further, we work together in the planning phase of implementations, where we provide expertise in the use and suitability of the Better Shelter units.

Better Shelter offers training and support to ensure safe and effective assembly and maintenance of the shelters before, during and after the implementation of a program. We help our partners increase their capacity and optimise their available resources, in order to ensure as many people as possible receive the shelter they need, as quickly as possible.

Working side by side with our partners around the world also gives us the valuable opportunity to monitor quality, understand our partners’ shelter requirements in their operations and to both gather and offer feedback on the assembly and use of our shelters. By supporting our partners in quick, efficient and correct assembly of our shelters, we help the humanitarian community to maximise its potential in offering shelter to displaced persons. Our product team continues to refine the solution and work on future improvements in close collaboration with aid and development partners.