Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sheltering: Another Alternative: IKEA has a new idea.

Why do we still put refugees in tents? IKEA has a new idea.

This World Refugee Day, Swedish furniture maker IKEA offers up a new design for a shelter that would offer more privacy and comfort than the ubiquitous canvas tent.

The Refugee Housing Unit, designed by Ikea, provides significantly higher living comfort and safety compared to emergency tents. The spatial volume is more than double that of the UNHCR family tent and the RHU Panels and RHU Shade net provide higher thermal comfort.
Courtesy of UN Refugee Agency
Nothing says misery like a hot tent in a refugee camp. That's especially true when a family spends year after year under a triangle of canvas meant to last only six months. 
More than six decades after the United Nations passed a convention pledging to protect refugees, very little has changed about the way they are sheltered – until now.
The IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the iconic Swedish furniture maker, has helped come up with a more comfortable refugee shelter. Just like the coffee table or nightstand sitting in your home, the IKEA shelter is flat-packed, requires no tools to assemble, and can be taken apart and rebuilt again elsewhere. Instead of canvas flaps, the shelter is made up of hard panels, which stand up better against harsher climactic conditions and offer more privacy. 
ImageAs Syrian refugee flood escalates, UN asks record $5.1 billion in aid
The clever innovation heralds a new era of refugee assistance, one where the United Nations approaches the private sector for ideas and investment, not just donations. If the shelters work, the design will be made available by IKEA to other companies for commercial production, while the swelling numbers of refugees from conflicts like those in Syria will have a more humane place to call home.
“We’ve been working on this for three years and it’s… a significant investment,” says Per Heggenes, the CEO of the IKEA Foundation. “[W]e hope that this will be a product that can be manufactured commercially and offered in the market to all organizations that are dealing with emergency and disaster situations.”

Beyond tents

An estimated 3.5 million of the world's refugees – civilians driven from their homes and across international borders by conflict – are living in tents. 
Searching for a better alternative, the Refugee Housing Unit, a Swedish design firm specifically aimed at improving the living conditions of displaced persons, approached the IKEA Foundation in 2010. Intrigued by the idea, IKEA reached out to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the initiative was born.
Each of the IKEA shelters is designed to house one family. The shelters employ technologies to keep the interior cool by day and warm at night; a solar panel on each provides electricity.
“The new shelter has the potential to provide a more dignified temporary housing solution to refugees,” said Olivier Delarue, UNHCR's senior adviser on private sector partnerships, in an e-mail. “Essentially it could be a temporary home until people are able to return to their place of origin.”
The full range of benefits – and drawbacks – will not be completely known until the prototype goes into field testing next month. Several units of the shelter will be introduced to the Dollo Ado refugee camp in southeastern Ethiopia, which houses approximately 190,000 Somali refugees. The site was chosen in part because of its harsh conditions.
"It is critical to set the units in a harsh environment to have feedback on their technical resistance,” says Mr. Delarue, “and also [to] have refugees’ views on the cultural suitability of the units.”
The testing phase is supposed to take between four and six months, during which time adjustments will be made before the shelter goes into production. Until then, it won't be known whether the shelter will be suitable for the needs of those living in camps.
"We don’t know enough to [say] whether it is an ideal solution yet,” says Prof. Alexander Betts, an associate professor at the University of Oxford's Refugee Studies Centre and the director of the Humanitarian Innovation Project. But he adds, “there are reasons to believe it’s exciting: The idea of moving beyond the usual tent structures … that often characterize that sort of terrain in the Horn of Africa, to provide something more durable, more sustainable.”
The shelters are more costly than typical refugee housing, but if enough are produced then the cost will be lowered to just above the price of tents, and they last up to six times longer. 

Coming soon to a border near Syria

However, this process may be sped up in order to help ease the pressure of continued refugee flows out of Syria.
“We have also been testing the shelters in Iraq and Lebanon,” says IKEA's Mr. Heggenes. “[We] decided to move from just testing it in Dollo Ado to testing it in all three areas, at the request of [the] UNHCR because the needs are so great in and around Syria.”
Over the past two and a half years, the civil war in Syria has produced 1.6 million refugees, most of whom have taken shelter in neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The strain of supporting the displaced Syrians is immense, with the UN recently asking for a record $5.1 billion. Organizations such as the UNHCR are looking for innovative ways to handle these emergency situations.
The IKEA Foundation is currently the single largest private donor to the United Nations ever, and their contribution has created the groundwork for more innovative ways of approaching refugee management issues. The Dollo Ado camp serves as a sort of laboratory, where IKEA can question and potentially improve upon the services and solutions normally applied to refugee emergencies.
“[A] foundation like ours, we can afford to take risks, so we can go when we see the opportunity,” says Heggenes. “We can go invest in a product like this and maybe change the way we look at emergency housing in the future. The potential of this is huge.”

Great potential, possible pitfalls

The partnership with IKEA marks a new phase of UNHCR-private sector relations. "It also potentially moves the whole way in which we look at refugees from one of a logic of charity to that of a logic of sustainability," says Prof. Betts.
But, as Betts cautions, wider engagement with the private sector comes with its own risks, especially when introducing them to vulnerable populations such as refugees.
"If one had private sector companies working [in] camps for the wrong motives, who didn't respect human rights or protection needs, that would be extremely problematic and would seriously undermine the UNHCR's ability to ever work with the private sector again."
Though Betts does not think this is the case with IKEA, he recommends that if the UNHCR’s engagement with the private sector continues, regulations should be set up, such as a voluntary code of conduct.
"It can be very exciting, it can make a contribution, but it must be done in the right way."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Training Opportunity: National Service Criminal History Check

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National Service Criminal History Check

New Online Training Course for the National Service Criminal History Check Requirements 
CNCS has developed a new online training course for grantees on the National Service Criminal History Check requirements.  The course walks you through scenarios on determining who to conduct checks on, what types of checks apply to whom, considerations for accompaniment, what should be maintained as documentation, along with other helpful guidance.  A link to the course and its associated materials has been posted to the Knowledge Network. 
Reach the course by clicking here:  Online Course

Friday, June 14, 2013


The African Center for Disaster Studies has created a Knowledge Shop for Disaster Risk Reduction with the help of the USAID. There are already a number of modules available for download (once you have registered) in the Knowledge Shop

The ACDS together with USAID has decided to expand the total number of modules. This means that there are 13 new modules to be written. If you follow this link  you should be able to download the call for  proposals.

Please note that the date has been extended to the end of June 2013.

If you are having trouble downloading the file, please contact Mr. Gideon Wentink on for assistance.

Best regards The SASDiR Team


1. Orientation and background

The continuing conditions of disaster risk and subsequent disasters in the SADC region are a clear
indication of the dire need for appropriate skills and competencies in disaster and risk
management. The need for these appropriate skills is well known and becomes extremely clear on
perusal of the regional and national policy documents and frameworks on disaster risk reduction in
southern Africa. The need has also been identified by regional and national fora for standardised
training and education, which will assist in ensuring a common understanding of the dynamics of
disaster risk reduction, which will also promote uniform standards and application.

It is against this background that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has
awarded funding to the African Centre for Disaster Studies (North-West University, Potchefstroom
Campus, South Africa) to provide support to develop a flexible, multi-sphere and trans-disciplinary
disaster risk reduction training programme aimed at various practitioners working in related
disaster reduction fields in South and southern Africa. This project runs over a five-year period and
commenced in 2010.

Initially, 37 knowledge products (modules) on disaster risk reduction related topics have been
identified and developed, and are available on the Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Shop on
the African Centre for Disaster Studies (ACDS) website:

During the development process of the initial knowledge products (modules) a further need has been identified to develop knowledge products (modules) on Disaster Response ‘issues’. During a strategic session, attended by experts in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction, 13 additional knowledge products (modules) on Disaster Response have been identified (see Table 1.1).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nigeria: From Response to Proactive Planning

Nigeria agrees to strengthen disaster resilience

Photo copyright NEMA. The 2012 floods which impacted the country's GDP and displaced over six million people provided the backdrop to discussions this week between the Nigerian Government and UNISDR on disaster risk management.
ABUJA, June 12- The Nigerian government has requested the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to facilitate the development of a comprehensive disaster risk management plan for Africa’s most populous country.
The agreement to move beyond a predominantly response-focused approach to disaster planning came after wide ranging discussions between Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo and the head of UNISDR Margareta Wahlström in Abuja.
Vice President Sambo summed up the philosophy that would guide his government’s approach when he told Ms Wahlström: 'It is time to come back to what the wise man said, prevention is better than cure.’
The strengthening of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was a top agenda item and Ms Wahlström said UNISDR would support NEMA’s efforts to complement its response capacity with more advocacy of disaster risk reduction, stronger local and state capacity and more proactive coordination of various actors.
‘Nigeria is already convinced that disasters are a development concern and it is increasingly aware of the impact of climate change so it is very encouraging to see the strong political commitment to strengthen disaster risk reduction as integral for protecting development gains,’ Ms Wahlström said.
‘It is impressive how key government ministries are really focused on strengthening Nigeria’s resilience and preparedness for disasters and climate change.
‘The recent floods have had a huge impact on public and official perception of disasters. It is the first time that Nigeria talks about the financial impact of disasters on the state and the people.
‘It is encouraging to see this deeper interest in the triggers of disaster and it’s important that we make progress because building a safer and more resilient country will be a long and challenging road. The need for good early warning systems is especially important.’
Other important outcomes from the talks included the organization of a national discussion to strengthen public-private partnership so that business can be an increasingly central actor in reducing disaster risk.
The Vice President and Ms Wahlström also agreed on the need to address the impact of disasters on children’s education in Nigeria. Many children directly affected by disaster are unable to attend school and in addition several schools are used for months at a time as centres for disaster displaced people, which means teaching cannot take place.
The Vice President also urged that the growing issue of armed conflict over resources, such as grazing land and water, between various groups, such as pastoralists and farmers, be a key part of the post-2015 replacement of the current Hyogo Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Nigeria has suffered repeated floods in many of its cities and continues to endure an ongoing drought in the north of the country.
The need for prompt action to reduce disaster risk was highlighted in a World Bank report, ‘Toward Climate-Resilient Development’, released this week in collaboration with the Federal Government. The report made ten practical recommendations for Nigeria to grow its economy and its resilience but warned of the consequences if concerted action was not taken.
Commenting on the report, Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Federal Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: ‘The 2012 floods in Nigeria were a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our communities, infrastructure and economy to climate-induced natural disasters.’
Nine of Nigeria’s 36 states in the Sahelian northern part of the country are currently severely affected by drought. The Ministry of Finance estimated that the 2012 floods reduced GDP by 0.36 per cent. At the time, the Guardian Nigeria newspaper reported: ‘Lagosians gasp for breath as flood ravages city’.
UNISDR’s recently-released 2013 ‘Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction’ said the floods from 2011 resulted in the highest claim settlement in the history of the Nigerian insurance industry.
The report focused on the port of Lagos, the country’s biggest urban area and Africa’s second fastest growing city, and said that the state government faced huge costs from corrective mitigation measures as a result of uncontrolled urban development that has generated increased risk.
About 70 per cent of Lagos’ population lives in informal, poorly regulated settlements. ‘While sound urban development policies exist, implementation of building and safety codes remains marred by corruption and limited capacity,’ The Global Assessment Report says.
‘About 80 per cent of artisans engaged in the construction industry are either unskilled or uncertified owing to an absence of standardized training.’

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 16-22 International Fire & EMS Safety & Health Week

International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc.

Intl Fire & EMS Health & Safety Week banner

Join ICISF in Supporting
International Fire & EMS Safety & Health Week
June 16-22

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council are sponsoring a week long event to call attention to the importance of the safety and health of Fire and EMS training and education. 

Given our mission of providing leadership, education, training, consultation, and support services in comprehensive crisis intervention and disaster behavioral health services to the emergency response professions, other organizations, and communities worldwide, ICISF is pleased to offer its support of this very important effort.

This year's international effort will capture the importance of responders taking responsibility for looking out for their own and each other's mental and physical well-being. Participating departments are encouraged to develop a week-long training program that focuses on a variety of issues that address their specific needs and environment. 
A major focus of the international campaign will be behavioral health issues, a topic that many still see as taboo in the hard-charging world of emergency response, but many departments are struggling with. 

Please join us in supporting this event by visiting the website for International Fire and EMS Safety and Health Week, where you will find an assortment of resources, including materials you can use in your own department or agency to promote and focus on responder health and safety. The resources include a list of activities that you can implement during this special event.

Thank you for all that you do to support the well-being of the first responders in your community.


Donald Howell
Executive Director
3290 Pine Orchard Ln, Ste 106
Ellicott City MD 21042
(410) 750-9600


Training Webinar: June 12, 2013. Terrorism Response Operations

Terrorism Response Operations
An Update on Current and Emerging Threats

June 12, 2013 -- 12:00 Noon Eastern is pleased to host a one hour presentation and interactive discussion Wednesday, June 12, 2013, beginning at 12:00 Noon Eastern time (please convert to your local time). Our guest will provide an overview of current and emerging threats, improvised explosive devices (IED) and homemade explosives (HME) awareness, as well as planning and response considerations.

Our guest will be August Vernon, instructor, author, and Operations Officer for the Forsyth County, NC Office of Emergency Management. Mr. Vernon provides critical incident and crisis management planning and training at the local, regional, state and federal level.

Please make plans to join us, and see the Background Page for links to related resources and participant Instructions. On the day of the program, use the Webinar Login link not more than 30 minutes before the scheduled time. As always, please feel free to extend this invitation to your colleagues 

In partnership with Jacksonville State University, EIIP offers CEUs for attending Webinars.  See for details.

Is your organization interested in becoming an EIIP Partner? 
Click here to review our Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles and access the Memorandum of Partnership.

Training Webinar: June 20, 2013. Reduce Recidivism using Predictive Analytics

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You Are Invited to Attend this FREE Webcast
Reduce Recidivism using Predictive Analytics

Sponsored by 

Reduce Recidivism using Predictive Analytics
Sponsored by IBM

Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm EST    

Jumpstart your prison reform programs with predictive analytics

What if you could take all your prisoner files and determine which interventions would work best for specific types of prisoners? It's now possible with predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics allows agencies to perform complex analyses of millions of files about prison populations, demographics and repeat offenders that reveal trends and patterns hidden in the data.

Attend our complimentary webinar on June 20 at 2:00 EST and learn how predictive analytics can greatly reduce recidivism and accelerate many corrections reform initiatives, such as:  
  • Security and parole planning   
  • Offender movement within the system   
  • Program effectiveness   
  • Population trending   
  • Staffing projections and resource allocations

About Grants Office, LLC
Grants Office, LLC is a national grants development firm based in Rochester, New York, providing federal, state, and local information and grants development support to municipalities, nonprofits, and industry partners.     


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Social Media in the Emergency Management Field 2012 Survey Results

Published Date: June 3, 2013
Quite a bit is known about the public’s social media habits, including the public’s expectations concerning emergency management agencies’ use of social media. For example, 76 percent of adults responding to a 2012 American Red Cross survey expect help to arrive in less than three hours if they post an emergency-related request on social media. However, what is not well known are the perspectives of emergency managers toward social media. Do they feel emergency management agencies should be monitoring social media? Do their agencies’ capabilities for social media align with public expectations?
To date, much of the data on social media and emergency management is limited to anecdotal accounts or case studies. Thus, CNA, in partnership with the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), funded the development and nationwide distribution of a 56-question survey to state, county, and local emergency management and response agencies in late 2012 to answer questions about social media use in emergency management. By taking a survey approach, we were able to provide a broader, complementary perspective to existing anecdotes and case studies. This report provides the key results of that survey.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

TDEM Showcase: May 31, 2013. DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season

News Release

May 31, 2013

DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season

DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) today hosted a hurricane emergency response exercise and resource showcase in Austin. Various resources, equipment, vehicles and numerous emergency responders from around the state convened at Austin Bergstrom International Airport to conduct interoperability and resource capability assessments, as well as logistical planning. Gov. Rick Perry, DPS Director Steven McCraw, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd and several state officials toured the exercise site today, one day before the start of the 2013 hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30.
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
“As a new hurricane season begins tomorrow, the most important element of emergency response starts with the individual. Everybody in Texas, particularly those along the coast, needs to have an emergency plan, an emergency supply kit and an evacuation route in place before a hurricane strikes,” Gov. Perry said. “We use these annual exercises to help us keep our system razor-sharp and ready for action at the first sign of trouble. Through practice, simulation and repetition, we've honed one of the most effective and efficient emergency response teams in the country.”
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
Emergency responders today showcased an impressive array of equipment: a wide variety of aircraft, including a C-130 Hercules Air Transport, Blackhawk Helicopter and Pilatus PC-12; multiple mobile command and communication trailers; water rescue equipment and several watercraft; and mobile fuel, water, livestock and kitchen units.  The agencies and organizations participating in the exercise included the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Military Forces, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (Texas Task Force 1 and the Emergency Services Training Institute), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Veterinary Emergency Response Team, The Salvation Army, Austin Fire Department, Civil Air Patrol and other private sector partners.  
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
“Hurricanes are a devastating force of nature, and today’s exercise demonstrates the extensive resources necessary to meet such a threat to the state,” said Director McCraw. “The state stands ready to assist our local partners in the event a storm or other disaster threatens Texas. Since early planning and preparations can greatly increase the protection of life and property, it is imperative that residents also begin taking precautions now.”
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
As the 2013 hurricane season begins, Texans should be preparing their families and property before a storm develops. Texas residents, especially those living along the coast, are urged to put together an emergency supply kit; learn evacuation routes before a storm hits; have a plan to ensure all family members and pets are able to evacuate safely if necessary; make preparations to protect your property from the impact of a storm; and stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
DPS Hosts Emergency Response Exercise, Urges Texans to Prepare for 2013 Hurricane Season
To find out more information on how to prepare for the 2013 hurricane season, please
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