Houses in farming communities are built largely of mud brick and frequently grouped within a fortified enclosure, to provide protection from marauders. The roofs are flat, with a coating of mixed straw and mud rolled hard above a ceiling of horizontal poles, although in areas where timber is scarce, separate mud brick domes crown each room. Cement and other modern building materials are widely used in cities and towns. Every town has at least one wide thoroughfare, but other streets are narrow lanes between houses of mud brick, taller than those in the villages and featuring decorative wooden balconies. The war and bombing campaign has severely damaged or destroyed countless houses. According to an official report, there were 200,000 dwellings in Kabul in the mid-1980s. The latest available figures for 1980–88 show a total housing stock of 3,500,000 with 4.4 people per dwelling.
In 2002, over 100,000 shelters were needed throughout Afghanitan for returning refugees, internally displaced persons, and the extremely poor who had very limited covered space, in both rural and urban areas. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the leader in the firld of shelter. Other funders include the UN Development Program, the International Organization for Migration, and CARE International, while the agencies implementing the programs are the Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) in Afghanistan, the United Nations Human Settlement Program (Habitat), the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as well as an assortment of international and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).