The IKEA Foundation will unveil a two-year long project to design a better refugee shelter, driven by the Foundation’s belief that every child deserves a safe place to call home. One prototype that is currently under review will be used and tested by Somali refugees living in UNHCR refugees camps at Dollo Ado in Ethiopia.
The project is a unique collaboration between the Refugee Housing Unit (RHU - a team of Swedish designers) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) orchestrated by the IKEA Foundation. Testing in the field by refugees will help shape a final shelter design, to ensure it can be a dignified and secure housing alternative for the millions of vulnerable refugee families fleeing violence, conflict, persecution and natural disasters.
The shelters have been designed to give a longer-lasting alternative to currently-used refugee tents, which typically have a life span of only six months and are not always suitable for housing refugee families who can live in camps for over 12 years. The new shelters last years, offering both durability and dignity and give refugee families a more comfortable and secure place to call home during a time of enormous personal upheaval. They are modular, offer better security and ventilation and each unit has a renewable energy source.
Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, said: “Just as IKEA looks for innovative ways to make everyday home life better for many people, the IKEA Foundation, along with our partner organizations, is looking to do the same for vulnerable families, who have lost their homes and everything that is familiar to them.”
Olivier Delarue, who is leading the UNHCR Innovation initiative, said: “By funding the development and linking us to the RHU, the IKEA Foundation has enabled the three organizations to share each other’s expertise and experiences to create a better home for refugee families, which UNHCR is now testing in the field. We would not have been able to do this without the IKEA Foundation’s knowledge and investment.”
About the IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes will benefit an estimated 100 million children by 2015.
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