The research will explore household sheltering pathways for informal settler families (ISFs), relocated families in government-financed housing programs, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) hosted by family members with a focus on health, livelihood, education, and social impacts. To unpack informality, two cases will be examined in the Philippines context: (1) reconstruction following the armed conflict in Marawi Citiy and (2) relocation of informal settlements to Bulacan in Metro Manila.

Project Team

  • Dr Aaron Opdyke
  • Benigno Balgos (Ateneo de Manila University)
  • Dr Paul Jones (University of Sydney)
  • Dr Acram Latiph (Mindanao State University)
  • Dr Erlinda Yape (Mindanao State University)


Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, Partnership Grant, $49,967 AUD

Salvaged materials on walls and roof of houses in informal settlement

Research Questions

  • How do different stakeholders define and practice sheltering informality in post-disaster and post-conflict response and recovery?
  • What are the impacts of post-disaster and post-conflict resettlement on host communities?

Research Methods

In 2017, the United Nations High Commission for the Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes. Ensuring that recovery in the aftermath of conflict and disasters is inclusive and equitable is vital to ensure lasting peace and sustainable development. Moreover, adequate shelter is considered an essential building block of reconstruction by restoring livelihoods, social networks, and sense of place. While informality has been explored with growing rigor in the development context, its scope and nature in conflict and disaster response has not received adequate attention. This research aims to understand the role of informality in post-conflict and post-disaster sheltering processes and its impact on long-term reconstruction planning efforts.

Comparative case studies will be formed, drawing from a mixed-methods approach. Specifically, the research will examine the following: household livelihoods (sources of incomes), idiosyncratic economic shocks (i.e loss of livelihoods, sickness, or death in the family, and unplanned pregnancy), mechanisms to maintain and continuously improve their daily functions (i.e. being able to pay their amortization regularly), and institutional support (i.e. social protection, LGUs support, private institutions, and cooperatives). Furthermore, these household characteristics will be compared with typologies of shelter through rapid visual assessments of dwellings, classifying features such as covered living space, structural safety, and material quality.


Findings will focus on the link between informality and resilience, seeking to contrast formal interventions with organic patterns of sheltering to better understand underlying processes that create risk.

Global Goals and Targets

While this research contributes to many of the global targets, the following goals, targets, and priorities are expected contributions from this research.

Sustainable Development Goals​

No Poverty

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.
11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.
11.B By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.

Peace, Justice, and Strong Insitutions

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

16.1 Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction​

This research contributes to Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.​

Outline of buildings

Target D

Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030​