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5 refugee-centered innovations

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UNHCR Innovation is working to develop cook stoves that best suit the needs of refugees, and has created an online platform to crowdsource ideas from agency staff as well as a text messaging system to …

UNHCR Innovation is working to develop cook stoves that best suit the needs of refugees, and has created an online platform to crowdsource ideas from agency staff as well as a text messaging system to communicate better with refugees.


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  • 1. Photo by: UNHCR 5 refugee-centered innovations
  • 2. Photo by: UNHCR Today: This tent offers no security to refugee families, can’t withstand weather conditions and needs to be replaced frequently.
  • 3. Photo by: UNHCR Soon: Using Ikea’s flat-pack design principles, the Refugee Housing Unit is sturdier than a tent and has been tested in the field for weather conditions. It features a shade net for heating and cooling and solar panels to allow families to charge simple electronic devices.
  • 4. Photo by: UNHCR Today: Learning amid a humanitarian crisis is challenging. As part of its first response to one, UNHCR ships educational supplies to affected areas and oftentimes sets up makeshift schools in refugee camps.
  • 5. Photo by: Bibliothèques Sans Frontières Soon: The Ideas Box provides educational materials and connect refugees to the outside world, addressing complaints by young refugees about boredom and not having anything to do in the camps.
  • 6. Photo by: Samuel Perkins of UNHCR Today: Cook stoves lay unused by refugees.
  • 7. Photo by: Samuel Perkins of UNHCR Soon: UNHCR Innovation works with refugees to create a cook stove prototype that meets community needs. This follows a fact-finding mission to determine the type of stoves refugees would want to use based on their cultural cooking traditions and logistical requirements.
  • 8. Photo by: UNHCR Today: Refugees line up outside the UNHCR office in hopes of getting an appointment and speaking to someone about their case..
  • 9. Photo by: UNHCR Soon: With the new Ascend text-messaging system, NGOs working with refugees can communicate en masse with refugees using a computer-based system that allows sending a single SMS to thousands of recipients in seconds.
  • 10. Photo by: UNHCR In the past: For large, unwieldy aid organizations, it was difficult to directly involve refugees and field staff in finding solutions to challenges in serving displaced people.
  • 11. Photo by: UNHCR Today: UNHCR crowdsources inputs from aid workers in the field and refugee communities to come up with innovative solutions.
  • 12. Photo by: UNHCR Want to know the latest on #innov8aid? Join Devex and follow us on Twitter