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Appropriate technology for refugees
The usual criteria for appropriate technology are essential, being suitable to the local environment and the most critical needs of the users. Specifically for refugees' needs:
- When there is a lack of outside assistance, use of local, readily available materials is especially important.
- When there is outside assistance, affordable mass-produced survival equipment, mass-produced materials are generally desirable.
- Ease and speed of delivery.
- Ability to be prepared and stored beforehand as a contingency, by aid organizations, for rapid deployment.
- Compact packing, e.g. flat pack or stacking. This is essential for preparation beforehand and quick transport.
- Ease and safety of use by refugees with a minimum of demonstrations and instructions.
- Line drawing instructions included with the technologies, just
Needed materials and technologies
Critical needs (first 48 hours)
- Efficient use of fuel sources. Where wood is used for fuel, improved cook stoves are essential.
- Sanitation, to maintain public health, preventing outbreaks of disease such as cholera.
- Clean water, adequate quantity and availability to allow hand-washing and bathing, to prevent spread of disease. This may be through emergency water treatment of local sources, or by transporting water.
When strategizing for possible future disaster responses, it is important to consider how the initial response will transition to longer term responses.
Short term needs (first days and weeks)
- Fuel sources. Especially when travel is unsafe, alternatives such as effective solar cookers become attractive.
- Transporting of water replaced or supplemented by emergency water treatment of local water sources, to ensure security of supply
- Local sources of food identified.
Longer term needs
Sadly, many refugees remain in "temporary" camps for years. While on a political level it is important to avoid this happening, on a response and technology level, we can reduce the suffering implied by this:
- More established forms of water treatment
- Reuse of human waste is also desirable for longer term refugee camps, but is much less critical than preventing disease. Urine is the safest and easiest to reuse; EcoSan or Composting toilets take more work and require more caution to do safely.
- Emergency permaculture: Growing food, using available resources, to supplement or replace aid.