Anyone who has ever been camping knows that a tent does not provide the best shelter in rain, wind or freezing temperatures. Nor is a tent ideal when the sun is beating down, the air is standing still and the thermometer is pushing 30 degrees celsius.
Add to this a harrowing life situation, a sense of personal chaos and insecurity, 25,000 neighbors living in a cramped area where you can hear every sound, poor sanitary conditions, a lack of food and no idea as to how many months or years you may be forced to stay. For the millions of people currently living in refugee camps around the world, this is reality.
￼The vulnerable physical and psychological position of refugees could be improved if they had somewhere to call home, however humble that home may be. A house rather than a tent. Tents offer a good solution for putting a roof over people’s heads quickly in a disaster. However, tents only last for six months, while refugees often spend several years – sometimes generations – in camps. But is it possible to manufacture, ship and assemble a refugee shelter quickly at a reasonable price?
Despite the rapid development of materials, technology and production in the private during the last decades, little of this knowledge has been transferred into the humanitarian sector when it comes to shelter. The vulnerable physical and psychological position of refugees could be improved if they had somewhere to call home, however humble that home may be. A better shelter.
In 2013, after years of research and development, the prototypes were finally completed and tests in real conditions began. First up was Dollo Ado, a camp for Somalian refugees in Ethiopia. The results of the test were encouraging. The shelters held up and the refugees gave them a positive review. On June 20, 2013 – the UN World Refugee Day – the IKEA Foundation and the UNHCR publically announced their partnership. The news received an enormous response from the media and other groups interested in refugee i