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December 18, 2013 | 0 comments

Earlier this year, Scandinavian flat pack furniture maker IKEA unveiled an easily deployable solar-powered shelter that can provide sturdy, safe housing in an emergency. Designed in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the shelters are ideal for situations such as the ongoing mass displacement of individuals fleeing from the war in Syria. However, as many Syrian refugees enter Lebanon, the Lebanese government has been hesitant to approve the use of the IKEA shelters for fear that they might prove too permanent. Now, after six months of negotiations, the IKEA housing will finally be available to Syrians in Lebanon, but they may not be ready in time to protect many from the harsh winter.
Read more: http://inhabitat.com/ikeas-solar-powered-flat-pack-shelters-approved-for...

December 18, 2013 | 0 comments

The United States is providing nearly $25 million in additional humanitarian aid to help the Philippines deal with the enormous devastation and deaths wrought by Typhoon Haiyan last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday after touring the worst-hit region. Kerry flew to central Tacloban city, where he was overwhelmed by the vast landscape of wrecked villages. He visited a food distribution centre run by USAID and government welfare officers, talked with officials and consoled survivors. "This is a devastation unlike anything that I have ever seen at this scale," Kerry said at a temporary USAID headquarters in Tacloban. "It is really quite stunning," he said. "It looks like a war zone and to many people it is." The new food aid, shelter materials, water and other supplies he announced for typhoon-lashed families bring the total U.S. assistance package to $86 million for one of its closest Asian allies. Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/u-s-sending-25m-in-new-aid-to-typhoon-ravage...

December 17, 2013 | 0 comments

The rapid deployment of engineers by international and national telecommunications companies to hard-hit areas of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates the private sector’s increasingly vital role in relief efforts. With more mobile phone subscriptions than people in the Philippines (107 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people), and industry estimates of at least one billion text messages sent daily, analysts say the telecommunications industry is not only able to re-connect the estimated 3.8 million displaced people with their families, but is also an ideal vehicle for raising relief funds. Telecommunications play a critical role in disaster preparedness and response by disseminating early warning messages, tracing survivors and providing vital aid information, said Kyla Reid, the head of disaster response at the London-headquartered Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a trade organization representing more than 800 mobile network operators worldwide. Within 72 hours after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) hit the central Philippines on 8 November, international mobile companies Vodafone and Ericsson deployed teams equipped with emergency kits to help local providers get the network running again: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99234/telecom-led-relief-in-the-philippines

December 17, 2013 | 0 comments

No longer content to import technology, Africans are using cellphones to spur indigenous innovation. Tired of hearing friends in Accra, Ghana, fret over the specter of home invasions, Herman Chinery-Hesse launched a text-messaging security service earlier this year that both addresses the problem of poor police response to property crimes and takes advantage of tight-knit neighborhoods. More at http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/africans-dial-up-innovation

December 13, 2013 | 0 comments

Dr Patrick Meier's presentation on the future of humanitarian response given at the UN's Global Humanitarian Policy Forum in New York, December 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWvVglGwEVk#t=21
In this talk, Patrick notes that local communities will increasingly become tech-enabled first responders, thus taking pressure off the international humanitarian system. These tech savvy local communities already exit. And they already respond to both “natural” (and man-made) disasters vis-a-vis the information products produced by tech-savvy local Filipino groups. The rise of tech-enabled self-help should be noted by traditional humanitarian groups that humanitarian response in 2025 will continue to happen with or without them; and perhaps increasingly without them.