Better Shelter, a Swedish social enterprise working with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) on emergency and transitional housing solutions, has launched a low-cost emergency shelter which can be upgraded with local materials.

According to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), “Structure” was developed to offer a shelter that provides immediate protection in emergencies, but also the possibility to be locally upgraded at a later stage - thereby increasing its lifespan and resilience among displaced communities.  “Structure”, which employs the prefabricated modular steel frame used by Better Shelter, can be transformed into an emergency shelter by draping it in standard sized tarpaulin sheets. It can be made more durable as a longer-term transitional shelter by covering the frame in locally available material.

During 2020, the Better Shelter team piloted “Structure” together with AKAH in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.  In 2021, Better Shelter is expected to scale up the aim to provide “Structure” for 10,000 families.

Better Shelter is working with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) to innovate how to shelter people who have lost their homes due to natural disasters in the high mountains of Asia.  They want to stop using tents and instead upgrade Structure frames to provide winter ready temporary shelters.  

In parallel, Better Shelter is reportedly launching a consumer-focused fundraising platform for the 235 million people who will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021.   

Structure is a new initiative by Better Shelter RHU AB – a humanitarian innovation project and social enterprise based in Stockholm, Sweden.  Its mission is to improve the lives of refugees by providing temporary, yet safe, homes.  The project started in 2010 in collaboration with the Ikea Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.  The modular homes are delivered in flat packages and can be set up in a few hours without tools or electricity.  Every shelter is equipped with a lockable door and a solar powered lamp.  Today, they are not only used as temporary housing, but also as clinics, classrooms and other community-promoting infrastructure.

The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) works with communities to ensure that the physical settings in which they live are as safe as possible from the effects of climate change and natural disasters while also helping them to be prepared to cope with and respond to disasters that do strike. Beyond making them safe, AKAH ensures people have access to services and opportunities to improve their quality of life, wherever they live.  AKAH helps communities not only to prepare for disaster, but to recover and build back better after it strikes.  To achieve this AKAH invests in innovation to develop and test practical, affordable and scalable solutions for critical habitat needs, including emergency shelter and permanent housing.