Climate Action

Providing a place to call home for refugee children

Hawa* and her children fled Somalia in 2011. After arriving at a refugee camp in Dollo Ado, southern Ethiopia, they spent a year living in a UNHCR emergency tent. It was crowded, lacked security and was no place for a child to grow up.

In late 2012, though, Hawa and her family were among the first group of refugees who moved into improved transitional shelters—funded by the IKEA Foundation—which are designed and built by refugees to last longer.

Hawa says, “My new shelter feels like a real home for me and my children. The tent we lived in at first was small, but in our new home my family has the space to live together.”

These transitional shelters last years instead of months, the way emergency tents do. The community is involved in the design, making them more culturally suitable. They are also involved in the production, giving refugees a sense of ownership, some income and the opportunity to learn and hone their skills.

These shelters are part of the IKEA Foundation’s partnership with UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency, to provide refugee children with a safe place to call home. Working together, we’re improving camp design and layout, and helping families have a bigger say in what their homes should be like.

Hawa can see a huge difference. “We feel safe and secure. It is now much easier for me to meet my neighbours and for my children to play. It is a big improvement!”

By the end of 2012, IKEA Foundation funding had supported the development of 5,600 of these shelters in Dollo Ado. In 2013, 5,000 more will be built, thanks to the partnership, and we are continuously looking at how to provide a better place to call home.

*Name changed to protect her identity