The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) has partnered with social enterprise Better Shelter to move forward on a plan to bring 10,000 of IKEA’s incredible solar-powered flat pack shelters to refugee families. After successfully field testing with 40 families in Iraq and Ethiopia, the UNCHR has made the commitment to bring the humanitarian shelters to others. The incredible shelters will offer refugee families comfortable, private living quarters.
IKEA’s innovative solar-powered shelters were first introduced in 2013, in a prototype alternative to regulation refugee tents, which are not only small but also do not provide privacy for the families inhabiting them. IKEA’s shelter could change that by providing refugees fleeing from violence, conflict, persecution and natural disasters, a space that is safe and dignified.
The flat-packed plastic shelters are easily transportable, can be assembled in just four hours and provide families with their own space. The roof features a solar panel, enabling the family to produce their own electricity, and to not use candles and kerosene lamps which can be a hazard in the fabric refugee tents. The shelters also deflect 70% of direct sun rays, helping to keep the interior cooler.
With the success of IKEA and Better Shelter’s field testing, the UNCHR has signed on to an initial commitment of 10,000 shelters. Production will begin this summer, and immediately be shipped out world wide to refugee families in need. Each of the shelters is expected to have a life expectancy of three years of comfortable, private living.