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18 Nov, 2016

2016’s best inventions

Every year, TIME selects the best inventions that are making the world better, smarter and perhaps, a little more exciting.

Better Shelter_Nepal_web

This year’s selection of 25 includes the Better Shelter, highlighting the flexibility of the structures and that “they’ve taken on a life of their own”, referring to the many modifications that have been made by aid agencies and beneficiaries in the field. Examples of use include:

Temporary accommodation, Iraq

Most of our shelters are used as temporary homes in refugee or IDP camps in countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

More than 3 million persons are internally displaced in Iraq. Many fled to the Baghdad area in search of safety from armed groups in 2014. Camp Al Jamea’a was opened by Iraq Authorities in April 2015 and Better Shelter units were installed in September 2015.

Family: Hamid Abdelraza, 55, his wife Fatma Khdhair, 42, and their children Bilal, 7, Faride, 14, Mohammed 19, Marwa, 25 (married), Duaa, 22 (married), Rahama 19 (married). Photo: UNHCR/Sebastian Rich

Hamid, Iraqi National in Camp Al Jamea’a, Baghdad: “…In the Better Shelter, there is space to move unrestricted and we started to buy things to make ourselves feel at home, like a set of drawers and a TV. It provides us with more privacy. My wife and I sleep behind the curtain and my kids sleep on this side, in the main ‘room’. During the floods earlier this year, all the tents were damaged. But when we were flooded again at the end of October, the Better Shelters were not affected at all. The new shelters are better because they give us privacy, which is extremely important for our tribe’s values…”.

Library, Greece

Photo: UNHCR Greece

Photo: UNHCR Greece

Members of a refugee community have opened a library in Filippiada refugee camp, Greece, together with volunteers and UNHCR staff with support from the European Commission – Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO). Books were donated by Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha and the Toledo School of Translators (UCLM).

Health care facility, Nepal

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Clinic in Nepal by MSF. Photo: Better Shelter

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Clinic in Nepal by MSF. 2 shelters were assembled together to form a larger structure. A shade net was attached to provide shade and a cooler indoor climate. Photo: Better Shelter

In April 2015, several districts of Nepal were struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by numerous after shocks, killing over 8000 people and destroying 300 000 homes. Thousands of people were left without shelter and access to basic services such as medical care. On the 29 April, medical teams from the independent humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) started reaching people trapped in isolated mountain villages in remote areas of the country.

As one of the first respondents, MSF ordered 50 Better Shelter units for their operations in Nepal, and were using the Better Shelter units primarily as temporary health care facilities in the district, to help ensure the continuation of basic primary health care, until more permanent construction options for the medical structures may be realised.

Innovation hub, Greece

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3D printing studio, Kara Tepe transit site, Lesvos, Greece. Photo: LATRA

Our partner, LATRA Design, has set up an innovation and design hub inside a Better Shelter in Kara Tepe transit site. Here, designers, aid workers and persons living in the camp can get together and improve core relief used in the camp, but also to create, have fun and make toys (which is what’s happening in the picture!).