Design for Refugees

I was recently assigned the new project for the semester, to design a product to help refugees in camps such as Darfur, Gaza Strip, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

I have searched for products that have been designed to help aid Refugees and have come up with very few results…

Toms shoes, Hippo Water Roller, and a Water Filter Straw…

If anyone has any insight or information they would like to share please feel free to post any pictures or links

Thanks for the help.


Contact your regional Red Cross office and talk to somone there about how they go about thier job.
Also, this has been a student project before - dig some more…

please ask your instructor to come on here and provide basis of this assignment, it would be interesting to elucidate his / her motivation and context.

As a design assignment it may be the single most assinine, ignorant, arrogant, topical trend subject chosen with as little intellectual effort as possible on an instructor’s part, except for altruism. If the instructor is a former aid worker then my comments would be different, but I don’t think he/she is as the assignment is too vague.

I have been in several refugee camps in various parts of the world. What refugees need is a home, food, clothes and knowledge of loved ones. Nothing else, except maybe advocacy and of course an end to the causal conditions.

Aid organizations have a long history and deep knowledge of conflict areas and displaced persons. All aid agencies have an incredibly hard time acquiring materiel - food, medicines, clothing, shelter - and distributing it. In what possible context would a design instructor and student contribute to this area?

I am very negative of any ‘design’ solution as anything anybody could possibly suggest will fail any of: who pays for it, how will it get there, once there how will it be delivered and distributed, will it actually meet its intended purpose (accepted, rejected, what if only part of it gets delivered). The only items that occasionally pass this phalanx of roadblocks are food, clothing, medicines, knowledge.

However, school assignments plod on, so… Very generally speaking, anything that has aura of permanency is rejected or politely accepted but then discarded, sold, burned for fuel. No refugee accepts that they will still be where they are tomorrow, so why do we need this shelter thingy, etc. Refugee camp commerce: everything is stolen, traded, sold; cliques, mafias, militias, etc., form almost immediately and their purpose and methods are not honourable. All refugees I am aware of gave general impression that lack of knowledge of family as worst condition.

This was a great student design project that is now in production (so I believe)