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Uganda 2014

Rethink Relief in Pader Uganda

In 2014, three years after the first workshop Rethink Relief took a turn and moved closer to the “users” of aid and technologies.  Rethink Relief brought together 33 participants from 16 countries in Pader, Uganda, to identify challenges and develop solutions that bridge the gap between short-term humanitarian relief and long-term sustainable development.

Map situating Pader in the north of Uganda

Pader belongs to the district of Gulu in Northern Uganda and it’s about 10 hours drive from Kampala through Lira. This region was devastated by a long war between the Lord Resistance Army and the government.

This war harmed many Acholi communities, disrupted families and their homes. After several years living in displaced camps the Acholi people could go back but faced a difficult return and resettlement as coming back meant facing the devastation and the past fears.

Our host, Caritas Gulu Archdiocese received all participants with a warm welcome and helped making this a great week!


We formed 5 teams, each with at least a design facilitator from the international organizers, an international participant, a local resident and a south sudanese refugee from Ayilo camp in the district of Adjumani, Northern Uganda cheap air max nike shoes. The teams were divided in the topics of agriculture, rainwater harvesting, cooking, preventive healthcare and lighting.

Holding Rethink Relief in Pader allowed for the unique participation of Ugandans who had lived in displaced camps during the civil war, as well as of South Sudanese refugees currently living in camps in northern Uganda.

The two weeks program included two panel on which guest speakers represented different perspectives about their experience with the war and peace process in Northern Uganda. A hands-on worshop to learn about design processes and the creatio of prototype.

The team worked in the TET center, an innovation center put together by the IDIN network.

At the end of the week the participant had a chance to present to Pader resident the ideas and project they came up with nike air max running. Look at the project section for some of the creations.

The participant then went to visit the Ayilo camp, guided by the locals participants.




MIT Mechanical EngineeringItu University in Pakistan



Boston MIT 2013

the second workshop was held in Boston, USA. This time the focus shifted to include innovation for communities of beneficiaries (rather than individuals or families) with the creation of public spaces that enhance people’s sense of ownership and care. Other concept briefs point to the need of designing systems, rather than standalone products in order to be adaptable and scalable.

Morning Design Exercice
Christiane Kokubo experience at Rethink Relief 2013

And there we were. It was the third day of MIT D-Lab’s Rethink Relief conference, almost 9:30 in the morning, an we were all sitting. In front of us on the table were 4 straws, a sheet of paper, some tape, scissors, three elastic bands, two clips and some blue clay. Amy Smith explained the morning activity and 20 people, from 15 different countries, showed that inspiration can come even before breakfast, before talking to each other or before feeling really awake. “You have 10 minutes to make something useful with what you have in front of you,” Amy said.

What a challenge! Especially when your creation goes to someone else, who will have another five minutes to improve it, before they pass it to the next person, and the next. At the end of the activity, everyone explained the original idea and what happened to it cheap air max 2016 lovers. My crane mobile was improved by three people, including Amy, and came back to my hands much nicer than I could have made it myself in 10 minutes.


This activity was just a small piece of our week of intense discussion and work during Rethink Relief, which took place from the 14th to the 20th of April. The week saw 20 participants from 15 countries and a wide variety of backgrounds sharing experiences, creativity and stories – contributing to find solutions and to improve ideas.

Our groups were Water, Health, Protection, Economic Empowerment, Education and Energy, each of them with three-four people. Every day, all day long, dialogues in English, Spanish, Hindi, Creole, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Italian could be heard in the room. We were a melting pot of designers, engineers, computer specialists and a journalist, all together thinking about relief solutions for emergency situations.


And how strange was it then, when on the second day of the conference, two bombs exploded 1.6 miles away, and we bore witness to an emergency situation unfolding in front of us? The day before, many of us had gone to the finish line of the Boston Marathon and, as good tourists, had taken pictures of that place that would be in all the world’s papers the next day.

Scared as we could be during the week, the work went on. We talked a lot, a lot, a lot. And then, we talked some more nike air max 90 on sale.  We laughed and made new good friends. We had participated in activities, we listened to experts, and we shared our own experiences. Our group defined what Protection meant for us, what solutions could lay in design, what kind of problem we were going to target, and what our mission statement was. The five other groups did the same.

We were anxious to talk about our work and accomplishments and to present our prototypes on Friday. And then, another emergency surprised us, now on this side of the Charles River. No subway, bus or taxi services were available. There was no possibility of going back to D-Lab. Authorities recommended that people did not leave their homes.

I am sure that it was a transforming week for everyone. After leaving D-Lab on Saturday afternoon and saying goodbye to our new friends, we all went back home full of ideas, projects, contacts and good feelings, rethought and relieved. Good things are to come.

Participants of Rethink Relief 2013

Participants from 22 nationalities
Participants from 22 nationalities




Preventive Healthcare

The Preventive Healthcare team worked on a broad concept to support the healthcare of refugees during the future period of return to their communities. Within this broad idea we designed something specific for safeguarding healthcare records of a refugee household. We designed a packaging to be distributed to everyone at a camp containing for example hand sanitizer and mosquito repellent for babies. This package should be beautifully illustrated with “positive living”* messages and can be used to store the healthcare records of everyone in the household.


One of our considerations was to care for the HIV diagnosed patients. There is a tremendous stigma created around HIV. If you are diagnosed positive you will leave the healthcare facilities carrying a huge box containing some condoms, a tiny leaflet of “positive living” some water tablets and a white jerrycan under armour curry shoes. A white jerrycan will condemn you to be looked at and be segregated.

The package we designed should replace the need to carry this differentiated equipment home. It can be hung like a poster at home and can be transported when necessary. Everyone should have one.

* Positive living messages we though of include: how to make your own hand sanitizer, how often to feed your baby, how to wash hands and why to use a mosquito net


The preventive Health team


Lighting kit

As Amy Smith put it on the first day of Rethink Relief 2014 in Pader, Uganda, whenever we felt something was challenging, like there was not enough time or we felt pushed to the limit, our response should be an emphatic, “Woohoo!”

The different teams took this mantra and ran with it! As the Lighting team, my team and I used the “woohoo” approach to tackle the lighting issue faced by the residents of Ayilo refugee camp in Northern Uganda and other refugee camps across the world. The team was a multidisciplinary team comprised of mechanical engineers, a product designer, residents of Ayilo camp, a machinist, a teacher, a social entrepreneur, and a student.

Members of Light Team (L-R): Lual, Jen, Mensah, Thomas, Clarence, JY, Daniel, Marian, and featuring children from Pader.

Suitable lighting is a necessity that many humanitarian organizations tend to overlook in relief situations. But think about it: how important is light in your life and in your day-to-day activities?

Now imagine a life filled with darkness. A life with limited movement because you are afraid that you may be attacked on your way to the nearby latrine, a life whereby you have to close your workshop early when evening falls, a life whereby you struggle to study for your exams because your home has no light.

It is tough for many to imagine such a life, but that is the norm for many in Ayilo camp. Due to those and many other reasons, the light team was determined to find a solution.

After days of brainstorming, illustrating a value chain, developing a sketch model, and finally building a prototype, WE Light was born. The name WE Light was agreed upon to show that the product was for any user and for the community as a whole.

WE Light is comprised of 3 different types of kits:

  • Make Your Own Light: This kit has the basic components to make a light, including an LED, battery, connector wires, and resistors. The kit also includes various accessories like housing to complete the user’s design.
  • Make Your Own Business: The kit includes all the light components found in the Make Your Own Light kit, but in bulk supply.  Also included in the kit are user manuals and a text book in both English and Acholi.  This is to enable the user to gain the skills needed to start a fully functional light manufacturing business. The books give the user both technical and entrepreneurial skills needed to make their business both profitable and sustainable nike sneakers air max. This information would also be available in video format on microSD cards that could be played on a mobile phone when literacy is a challenge.
  •  Make Your Own Ceiling/Wall Light: This kit is specifically used to make 2 types of light: a ceiling light and wall light.

The overall packing is labeled the Relief Box.  Once deconstructed each component of the Relief Box can be easily assembled to make a complete workstation.  Inside the Relief Box is another box which houses the Make Your Own Business kit.  The housing of the Make Your Own Business kit also has the capability of transforming into a portable functional table.

Housing for Make Your Own Business kit


Designing and fabricating this kit did not come without its challenges, but as a team we were able to work through them and accomplish the intended goal. First, the design process from ideation to fabrication was restricted to a week, therefore each day had predefined objectives that had to be met and it was crucial they were achieved. Due to this, some days were spent working extremely late into the night.

Secondly, our value chain underwent several iterations before settling on our final one. The value chain had to be practical and well-defined. We needed to visualize and determine step by step each node of the value chain from sourcing of the various components of the kits to their various end users. This required the team to understand the typical humanitarian relief processes and procedures, basics of supply chain and also life within Ayilo camp.

Lastly, it was initially a challenge to fully define the different kits and their function. Our objective was to make the number of kits as few as possible but to ensure that the contents of the kits were sufficient enough to deliver on their intended purposes wholesale nike air max. Complexity would only make it harder for the user to understand and deter them from their use.

With this innovation, it is my hope that we can bridge the gap between short term-humanitarian relief and long-term development. The conference and working with all the members of my team was such a fulfilling experience that I will cherish. My most memorable moment was showcasing the kit to the people of Pader. Their enthusiasm for the kit as well as their eagerness to learn more about the product was validation for the team on the incredible work we had put in to make the project a success.


To all the organizers and the participants: Apwoyo Matek!


Energy efficient cooking stove

The cooking team wanted to reduce the risks that women in camps face when going out to collect firewood by decreasing the amount of fuel needed for cooking. Many energy-saving cookers have been introduced, but few have been accepted. The refugee and community participants explained that women often rejected cooking devices that looked different from traditional stoves.

The team designed a familiar-looking mud Lorena stove that had an insulated, fireless cooker incorporated into it nike air max 90 premium. The initial reactions to the design were very positive, and the local members of the team plan on building full-sized prototypes to test at their homes.


Rain water harvesting

Shortage of clean drinking water is quite common in refugee/IDP camps in Uganda. People living in the camps are dependent on water provided by UNHCR and NGO’s. This shortage of clean drinking water causes the usage of contaminated/dirty water for the drinking purposes, which exasperates the healthcare situation in the camps.

Rainy season in Uganda spans for around 8 months in a year, however, the rain water is not collected for the usage despite its abundance and minimal requirement of treatment before usage.

Rainfall in Pader per month

Keeping in view the situation in camps and an opportunity, we are building a rain water harvesting tool/material KIT that is easily deployable, cheap, and durable and it fits almost every type of house built in the camps. It is also easy to transport during the transition phase as well cheap girls air jordan 10. This kit will be given to the refugees/ IDP on their arrival to the camps.

After the design summit, one of the participant, Tobias Bahne took on the project further and did research and prototyping as part of his graduation project at the Bauhaus school of Design.

Project report by Tobias Bahne



Hospital in a box

Problem statement
How can we rethink the deployment of first aid medical equipment used in emergency relief in order to make it “logistics-friendly”?

The project “hospital in box” was an idea based on the fact that after a disaster there is high number of people that require many different medical treatments.  To make a proper observation of the patients and determine which treatment they must have and, in case of a simple treatment to effectively perform it, be able to treat patients without delay. Current solutions are adopted from “normal” medical settings but are not adapted to the demanding environment of post-disaster settings nike lebron basketball shoes. This project evolved towards two concepts of a compact and modular concept integrating a folding stretcher, storage and hanging space.

a box open up to become an hospital bed

The final concepts have the potential initially proposed: to gather multiple components in one, making the solution more compact, being practical to deploy (in terms of transport logistics and of setting up ease) and to clean and repair cheap air max sneakers. Besides being an innovative solution not yet existing in the market it can be further developed to accommodate the requirements for adoption or manufacturability in disaster-prone regions.



T.U. Delft 2011

hands2The first Rethink Relief Design summit was held in the Netherlands in TU Delft University in October 2011. It included staff from international organizations (Save the Children, MSF, Caritas), and many professional and student designers.

A hands-on event concept was created in which different stakeholders from the humanitarian aid and design fields would be given an opportunity to interact by sharing and learning with their experiences and to engage in the solution space by developing a holistic approach to technology that considers the transition from emergency response to post-disaster self-sufficiency.

The design process was then compressed and divided along five days as well as translated into knowledge that could be understood by non-designers. The participants had the opportunity to brainstorm and select specific projects matching their interest and were divided into multi-disciplinary teams that were guided through the design process cheap mens nike air max 1, from the initial problem framing through idea generation, experimentation, sketch modelling, concept selection and prototype fabrication. The organizers and external senior designers were invited to facilitate the work of the groups or provide any help when requested.

Impression from Rethink Relief 2011, by participant David Okello

It was October 2011 when I had the opportunity to attend the very first Rethink Relief conference in Delft, Netherlands. It all started with a “heads-on” panel discussion on the challenges of transition from relief to development and ended with “hands-on” design process during the last three days of the five-day conference.

Coming from a project management background, I was not sure if I would be relevant and make any contribution toward the technology design process when the session shifted from “heads-on” to “hands-on.” Our group was assigned to work on rainwater harvesting for the rural resettling community in northern Uganda. It was indeed an amazing process. I learned how systematic and iterative engineers are as they move through the design process and soon, I was as busy as any engineer at a lab.

What I took with me home from the conference is that technology design and innovation is a creation of the mind. And what one needs to develop technology is a creative mind that does not limit its thinking capacity. I also learned that many people normally limit their minds or underestimate their creative capacity and as a result, they convince themselves that “it is impossible,” yet they have the capacity to undo the impossibilities mens new balance 576. I also learned that once the thinking process is grounded to paper, pen, hammer, saws, and drills, the immediate results are prototypes and sooner or later, a technology is born!

Participants of Rethink Relief 2011