Exploration 5B: Planning a Camp for People Displaced by War


The activity of planning a camp is used to introduce learners to the scope of effort needed to rebuild the normal supports for life and to provide an illustration of one important type of humanitarian action. Learners are asked to take the role of humanitarian workers, estimating needs and planning for supplies and tasks. They focus on at least one resource and consider the amounts needed, the transportation requirements and whatever else is involved in completing the task.

This course is one 45 – to 60 – minute session.


  • To be aware of the scale of effort required to meet human needs resulting from displacement, including security
  • To be aware of some of the aspects of assistance and protection that people need when armed conflict displaces them from their homes

Key Ideas

  • Responding to the needs of people displaced by armed conflict requires a great deal of planning and effort.
  • In addition to immediate biological needs (water, food, shelter, medical care, etc.), social and psychological needs must also be addressed. These include enabling people to regain their autonomy as quickly as possible.


Plan how to provide “Information and instructions for planners” and a worksheet to small groups.



Needs of People Displaced by Armed Conflict | 10 – 15 minutes

Brainstorm the needs of people who have fled from their homes and sought refuge in a camp for displaced people.

The following headings may be used to organize the responses:

Water (including supply and drainage)

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Medical
  • Care energy (including cooking, heating, lighting)
  • Hygiene and sanitary facilities
  • Security
  • Psychological support
  • Communication (including information and education [Responses may also be organized using the categories of biological, social or psychological needs]
  • Present “Photo collage 5B” and discuss the needs reflected in the photographs.

    Possible questions:

  • What do you think are the needs of people in these photographs?
  • What should humanitarian workers think about in providing for people’s needs in a camp?
  • Present “Planning a camp – a report” and have learners identify what planners did to meet some of those needs.


    Calculate Resources For a Camp | 30-35 minutes (small groups)

    Present “Information and instructions for planners“. Review the population figures in the box.

    Have each small group develop a plan for meeting one category of the needs of the displaced population in this camp. Each group should calculate quantities of supplies needed and think about how to obtain and distribute them. (10 minutes)

    Each group should then present its plan for class discussion. (15 minutes)

    Each presentation should include:

  • Category of need addressed (e.g. food, water, shelter)
  • Quantity of supplies and services needed
  • Plan for acquiring supplies/services
  • Plan for delivering the supplies/services
  • Specific plans for meeting the needs of those who are most vulnerable (unaccompanied children, women and girls, pregnant and nursing mothers, the elderly, etc.)
  • Discuss what has been learned through planning for 10,000 in light of the existence of camps around the world where much larger numbers of people have taken refuge. (5-10 minutes)

    Possible questions:

  • How would your plan need to be changed if the camp had to meet the needs of 300,000 people?

  • 3

    How to Ensure Human Dignity and Identity | 10 minutes

    Discuss needs other than biological that humanitarian workers must consider in helping displaced people recover, assume responsibility for themselves and preserve their human dignity.

    Possible questions:

  • What social, psychological and spiritual needs must be addressed (education, information, recreation, religious practices, etc.)?
  • If you were in a situation of displacement, what could you do to continue feeling like the same person from the same community?
  • Nearly 80% of displaced people are women and children; why?
  • What risks might women, children and the elderly face in a camp for displaced people? How can these be avoided?

  • 4

    Close : Needs After Leaving the Camps | 10 minutes

    Give learners a few minutes to write down what they think people will need after they leave the camp. Divide the learners into four groups and have each group focus on one of the following categories of people who might be in the camp.

  • Children under six
  • Youths
  • Adults
  • Elderly people
  • Then discuss the needs they mention and their reasons for doing so.

    Possible questions:

  • What differences are there in the needs of children and the needs of adults?
  • Who may require special services? Why? [For example, those who have experienced physical or psychological trauma may need long-term counselling and medical services, those separated from family members will need help to find them, etc.]
  • What do you think ordinary individuals can do for refugees? [For example, those who have experienced physical or psychological trauma may need long-term counselling and medical services, those separated from family members will need help to find them, etc.]