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Work by students and SMEs for an international innovation:
Manually assembled catastrophe shelter to facilitate emergency treatment in crisis areas

Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) has been directing development work in which students and SMEs joined forces to produce a versatile and lightweight catastrophe shelter which can be manually assembled. It can be used, for example, for frontline emergency treatment. Solar energy provides the electricity needed, heating comes from locally available fuel, and the equipment includes tools for water purification, solar power system and a dry toilet. Built of wooden elements, the catastrophe shelter is a great improvement on tents for this purpose and it can be delivered to the target area at a competitive price.

High resolution image (644 Kb)
Photo: Markku Oikarainen

The catastrophe shelters can be used as separate units or as larger combined units; if necessary, they can be manually dismantled for transfer to a new catastrophe area. The structures are long-lasting in widely differing climates and the basic elements of three shelters plus equipment can fit into a standard container for transportation by sea.

The catastrophe shelter built by TAMK provides distinctly superior facilities for emergency treatment than the tents currently in use throughout the world. The emergency treatment module and the necessary equipment include a treatment table, the basic equipment for disinfecting and cardiac monitoring and also for the provision of oxygen. Solar panels are used to obtain the electricity required; heating and hot water come from a pellet-burning stove. Water purification equipment and a dry toilet create a basis for ever better sanitation and hygiene in catastrophe areas.

The semi-permanent shelter is multipurpose – same space can be adapted into different uses. It can function as vaccination or emergency treatment station, relief organization office, school or refugee housing. It is also suitable for use by UN peacekeeping forces. The surface area of the shelter is 25 square metres. Complete with equipment it weighs a mere 2,500 kilos.

In the near future TAMK will be in charge of the construction of a test series of such shelters. The first shelters are to be transported for testing by aid organisations in crisis areas, and experiences from the field will serve as a basis for the development of a catastrophe shelter for commercialisation. If the progress is successful, it would be appropriate to have the shelters manufactured under licence from Finland in parts of the world closer to potential crisis areas where there are already aid depots of the UN and international humanitarian aid organisations. The organisations would then be able to promptly supply new catastrophe areas with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of shelters.

The catastrophe shelter was designed and built in co-operation between SMEs in the Tampere Region and students of construction and sanitary engineering at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The paramedic students of the Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences took care of the facilities for emergency treatment. The development work was funded by TAMK and local SMEs. For purposes of testing and commercialisation TAMK is also to apply for support from TEKES, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland.

The prototype of the emergency shelter is at TAMK. It is to be exhibited 16-19 August at the Second International Dry Toilet 2006 Conference held at TAMK. This event will include a Finnish-language theme day on Friday, 18 August on dry toilets, the export prospects for this technology and waste management in sparsely populated areas.

Contact informations:

Tampere Polytechnic
Juhani Kurppa, Project Manager
Tel. +358 40 829 3075
Vanerpak Ltd
Timo Hakala, Management Director
Tel. +358 40 089 4017
Pirkanmaa Polytechnic
Heidi Kassara, Principal Lecturer, Nursing
Tel. +358 50 338 4081

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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