The purpose of this paper is to explore the feasibility of mud brick houses as an alternative to the more widely adopted emergency shelters used in war-torn Syria. It focuses on the mud houses' sustainability, cost effectiveness, cultural preference, income generation and security.


This study uses a qualitative research approach to a single case study. Interviews were conducted with field experts from the Qatar Red Crescent Society and members of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) community living in mud brick houses.


The findings reveal that the utilisation of mud houses is a good alternative in relief efforts. The houses are sustainable and cost-effective, take into consideration cultural dynamics and provide economic empowerment to IDPs. However, the maintenance of mud brick houses turns out to be the largest flaw, and this problem requires further research.


The paper highlights the inefficiency of current emergency sheltering practices in Syria and reveals that tents are not a preferred mode of shelter. It further sheds light on a unique case study in which mud houses were used by an aid and development organisation, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. This paper contributes to practical discussion and ideation on more appropriate housing for IDPs.

For Citation: 

Elkahlout, G.Milton, S. and Hawa, R. (2024), "Mud brick houses as a suitable alternative to emergency shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs): evidence from Northern Syria", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-07-2023-0087