Humanihut Start-up Makes Portable Refugee Shelters
War and climate change are putting increasing pressure on humanitarian relief agencies, many of whom do not have enough refugee shelters to provide basic protection from the elements for all the people who are dependent upon them.
Humanihut is an Australian start-up that has designed a compact and highly portable solution. 16 of them can fit into a standard shipping container. They can be set up in a matter of minutes. Once they arrive at a destination, an entire village can be created in a matter of hours.
The Humanihut comes with sanitary and laundry facilities built in as well as eating and sleeping areas. The walls and ceilings are insulated to ward off excessive cold or heat. Each unit has an array of solar panels mounted on the roof. A built in inverter supplies 110 volt electricity throughout the unit. They are 22 feet long and 8 feet high. Heating and water purification equipment are also built into each hut.
The refugee shelters aren’t just portable and quick to set up, they are also incredibly durable. Each unit is expected to last up to 20 years. That’s a vast improvement over the tent shelters that many refugees find themselves living in.
Not only does the durability of the shelters provide a more comfortable and stable living situation for the refugees or disaster victims, it also helps cut down on costs for aid organizations. An investment in the Humanihut is expected to break even after about 3.5 years, and could potentially save millions of dollars thereafter. In a camp with 50,000 people, the huts could cut costs by $70 million per year.
Experts predict that there will be more and more refugees in coming years, as changes in climate send millions of people in search of food and water. The world needs to provide habitats for dispossessed people that meet their basic need for shelter in a way that preserves their dignity. The Humanihut could be an important part of that solution.
Others are also involved in designing shelters for refugees and disaster victims. IKEA has pledged to make 10,000 units of a shelter it has designed available to the United Nations. Designer Abeer Seikaly has also proposed a portable and sustainable tent to house people in need of shelter. Now what the world really needs are effective strategies to reduce the number of people who need such shelters.