Climate Action

Thousands of refugee children will soon have safer homes

Thanks to the IKEA Foundation, thousands of refugee families will soon receive a safer, more durable shelter. Launching today at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition (DIHAD), the flat pack Better Shelter will be unveiled and available for purchase for the first time.

For several years, the IKEA Foundation, UNHCR and a group of Swedish designers have worked together to develop a new kind of temporary shelter that will provide refugees with safety, dignity and a better place to call home.

Now the shelter is ready to be used in refugee camps, and UNHCR has made a frame agreement to buy 10,000 of them from the social enterprise BetterShelter.org, which is developing and manufacturing them.

Democratic design for humanitarian benefit

The Better Shelter is a temporary shelter with an expected lifespan of three years. Delivered in flat packs, it is designed with special attention to transport volume, weight, price, safety, health and comfort, and it can be assembled on site without additional tools and equipment. Keeping families’ needs at its core, it also has a solar panel and lamp to provide light during the dark hours.

In a groundbreaking example of democratic design (form, function, quality and sustainability at an affordable price), the prototype has been tested and improved by 40 refugee families in Iraq and Ethiopia whose experiences and needs have been at the heart of the development process.

Production of shelters is about to begin, and in the summer of 2015 UNHCR will start providing the shelter to thousands of vulnerable families in refugee camps, bringing dignity and safety to families fleeing violence, conflict, persecution and natural disasters.

Jonathan Spampinato, Head of Strategic Planning and Communications at the IKEA Foundation, said: “Putting refugee families and their needs at the heart of this project is a great example of how democratic design can be used for humanitarian value. We’re incredibly proud that the Better Shelter is now available, so refugee families and children can have a safer place to call home.”

Find out more about the IKEA Foundation’s support for refugee families