Humanitarian interventions on the scale of settlements (formal and informal), camps, and in collective centers often encounter multiple complex issues related to housing, land, property, and natural resource tenure. This affects interventions at each stage within the lifecycle of a camp or a settlement.

  1. Early Phases – Establishing Camps and Settlements : How camps and settlements are established and designed in the early days will have profound impacts on the later phases as well as on relations between displaced peoples and host communities. A lot of the tensions arising between displaced populations and host communities have to do with issues of housing, land, property, and natural resources. Even though camps and settlements are often established in emergency situations where decisions need to be quickly made, some critical tools can be used to help guide their establishment, especially before they settle into more ‘permanent’ footprints.
  2. Middle Phase – Governing / Managing  : Once camps and settlements are established, the main focus of humanitarian actors, residents, and host communities shifts to how these sites and the resources around and within them will be managed. The medium and long-term housing, land, and natural resource needs of both displaced and host communities will need to be carefully managed and governed. In the absence of careful governance, informal systems to govern and transact these resources will emerge from the population themselves. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, humanitarian actors and government actors may want or need to play a proactive role to ensure that these systems are inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and non-exploitative.
  3. Final Phases– Integration or Closure : There are multiple pathways towards the ‘final’ stages of camp management – on one hand, there can be a mass return, which then requires camps and settlements to be dismantled (or for local communities to take over land and facilities). On the other hand, returns can be limited, and solutions need to be identified to more permanently integrate displaced populations into local communities. Many cases are a hybrid between the two.

This toolbox curates the most recent global tools on these questions and organizes them by lifecycle phase and theme under those phases. When global guidance has not yet been developed, relevant national level documents are included.

These resources can help you design adequate responses – based on emerging global best practices. These resources will be updated periodically – please contact the HLP AOR Coordinator if you have any questions or new resources to contribute.

Photo: The refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. 2018. Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC.



Due diligence for camps & settlements

Securing land for short & medium term

  • Guidance not yet publicly available

Land use and site planning



Site management

Inclusion of women in management

Land and property markets within camps and settlements

  • Guidance not yet publicly available

Agriculture, grazing, afforestation, and/or restoration

Burial & waste management

  • Guidance not yet publicly available

Managing and resolving conflicts in camp settings

  • Guidance not yet publicly available

Evictions & relocations response