“In the drought-swept expanses of Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, women wrapped in bright scarves lug plastic jerry cans of water, and clouds of dust puff from the ground as teenagers distract themselves with a soccer game. Here, where one of the largest refugee populations in the world has fled political instability and famine, families rely on UNHCR for housing that provides stability, safety and dignity.

These refugees, fleeing conflict, disaster and climate change, have long relied on what has become a familiar symbol of survival and support: the white and blue UNHCR tents.

These makeshift shelters—prone to wind, fire rain damage and offering little climate control or privacy—only last up to 12 months. While useful in acute emergencies, these are not a sustainable solution. Many families must stay in refugee camps for years.

UNHCR knew that when it came to providing shelter for the millions of refugees it serves, it could do better.

Creating a new way to house refugees was no easy feat. Shelters had to be suitable for many weather conditions—sometimes extreme. They had to last with only basic maintenance, and most importantly, provide housing with enough space and privacy to uphold refugees’ dignity and hope.

Cost could not be overlooked either; any solution had to be affordable, and they had to stack flat so they could be shipped quickly in emergency situations anywhere in the world.”




Better Shelter Unit (Refugee Housing Unit)

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