Thursday, May 19, 2016

OUR MISSION WITH REFUGEES

Well!It's a GO. We made the plunge after much hesitation and a lot of really hard work to clear our thinking and provide REAL solutions to refugee housing. In retrospect, our tested concepts for natural disaster prone areas where so close to what refugee camps require that the transition was natural for all. SO WHAT ARE THE MAIN REASON WHY WE DECIDED TO FOCUS OUR MISSION ON DESIGNING THE REFUGEE TOWNS OF TOMORROW? A great opportunity is offered us by helping the generous Tijuana, Mexico authorities to house some the several hundred Haitians migrants that have been blocked at the US border for months. We have a project to build a modest camp in Primo Tapia, just 25 miles south of Tijuana. We expect to present in here in early April 2017.

The short list is:

1. Our new member, the Brazilian/Australian architect and civil engineer Abdon Dantas wrote a remarkable book after his visit and analysis of several of the larger refugee camps. His powerful conclusions in light of the projected 500,000,000 refugees of the year 2050 leave no one indifferent to our need:  immediately start to plan these future towns or camps. Having so much work invested in low-cost construction solutions for difficult areas of the world, we could not resist his plea to fight denial, no more than any responsible construction professional would. We have that capacity and we know it. Please read the book, one that you can order here. Or again you can read also it as a PDF eBook here. Note that you can also read Abdon's winning 2016 paper presented in Porto, Portugal, at the International Conference on Sustainable Housing Planning, Management and Usability, a short yet very powerful document that really wraps up the program for the successful design of these cities of the future.
2. The recent noisy exit from the UNHCR by Kilian Kleinschmidt left no doubt in our minds that this 'too-big-to-fail' organisation is in a terrible mess, some of it of its own doing, but mostly from the consequences of population surge, climate change and resulting civil wars and unrest. The scope of consequences that lie ahead is mind-boggling, with numbers that have us rub our eyes. Just take this touching video by our Angelina Jolie about rape, something that is a daily problem in most refugee camps.
It simply turns out that we already had a solution to cut down on rape with some of our older low-cost solutions for poor countries:

Most of the rapes in refugee camps where it is also a big problem occur in the evening or at night. There is then little security because the guards avoid the camps fearing for their life. At night when women go to their badly lit communal latrine is where most of the rapes occur, but a good number happen when rapists easily force their entry into flimsy tents or other unsecured structures. This explains the pit latrines dug near their tent by occupants, creating the problem of contaminating ground water tables by their sheer number. My partner and I are proposing shelters that cost a fraction of these tents and offer complete security by making a forced entry almost impossible short of using a bolt cutter, the shelter walls and roof being backed up with a tempered steel mesh. something that brings the cost down of a 180 ft2 shelter to less than $200 because the outside skin can be cheaper because of the strong backup offered by the mesh. Lights can help cut down on rape, but until we can solve the sewerage question, the safest solution is what we have in our project.

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