Why Flat Pack Furniture Could Soon Be Saving Lives

Since 2013, home furnishing retailers IKEA have been testing and producing flat pack shelters, which can be easily shipped to and assembled in refugee camps and disaster areas all over the world. There have been 40 shelters produced so far and they are now to go into full production.
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Called ‘Better Shelter’, the units are just under 200 square feet each and feature built in solar panels to power a built in lamp and USB port.
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The roof and walls of the shelters are manufactured from lightweight, semi-hard plastic, which is designed to last at least 3 years – compared to six months for conventional refugee tents. Each shelter costs around $1,000 to manufacture.
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The IKEA foundation have supplied the shelters to the United Nations Refugee Agency and they will soon make their way to destinations including Ethiopia and Iraq.
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Shaun Scales, UNHCR’s chief of shelter and settlement, said in a press statement: “The refugee housing unit (RHU) is an exciting new development in humanitarian shelter and represents a much needed addition to the palette of sheltering options mobilised to assist those in need. Its deployment will ensure dramatic improvement to the lives of many people affected by crises.”