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The scenario of insufficient resources, the need to enhance community preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and the recognition that shelter is a process, and not only a product, has led to an increased emphasis on engagement and partnership with non-traditional actors, like affected communities themselves and the diasporas that seek to help them.

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The increasing effects of climate change are contributing to the rise in natural disasters and the growing rates at which they threaten loss of lives and livelihoods, and displacement worldwide from the destruction of shelters and infrastructure. When emergencies occur in communities with pre-existing vulnerabilities and long-term unmet needs or protracted crisis situations, the effects are even more devastating.

Disasters also disproportionately affect women and girls by contributing to higher levels of gender-based violence, lack of access to maternal and other health care, impeding education, and much more. Women and youth are 14 times more likely than men to not survive a disaster.  

Considering such compounding global crises, there is great need to invest in continued multi-stakeholder interventions and preventative and preparedness measures. These approaches include the engagement of diaspora communities in shelter and settlement activities in their countries of origin or heritage and continued support for education, awareness-raising, and empowerment initiatives targeting affected communities, in order to mitigate existing and future impacts of hazards.


Diaspora communities are uniquely positioned to help those affected by disasters. From remittances and philanthropic contributions to technical expertise, language skills, cultural knowledge and much more, diasporas are a crucial component to humanitarian assistance efforts worldwide.

IOM Washington's Diaspora Engagement Unit (DEU) partners with diaspora organizations in the United States and abroad to facilitate stronger coordination for humanitarian assistance in communities affected by natural and manmade disasters. These organizations have ongoing projects and initiatives to support their countries of origin/heritage across all phases of disasters, and include:

The DEU's work also involves the sharing and promotion of tools, opportunities, events, and other resources for diasporas and the general public to increase their knowledge of safe shelters and to empower themselves to make their communities more resilient. These free resources include:


By empowering yourself to know more and be aware of all you can do to help affected communities, you can help us #BuildBackSafer.