Container village in Syria appeal – Al-Imdaad Foundation

I saw a billboard near Frog Island here in Leicester, advertising this appeal from the Al-Imdaad Foundation:

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It may be one thing for you or I to consider building a slightly ‘wacky’ container house, but  fast, flexible and cheap building methods are well suited to crises. UN estimates suggests that the crisis in Syria has resulted in around 4.5 million refugees fleeing their homes to live in numerous refugee camps away from the main cities and along or over the borders with Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. To put that in perspective, you could imagine 15 times the entire population of Leicester suddenly being made homeless – for as long as two years to date, and who knows how much longer.

The Al-Imdaad Foundation has plans for a containerised village accomodating 500 people, with a kitchen, washing/toilet block and a masjid (mosque). Read on for more details…

Humanitarian efforts like this are an enormous housing / shelter challenge (and more besides) and it is always of interest to see how these needs can be met, generally with the bare minimum of time and resources. (for example, also see the film Garbage Warrior , for earthships being built after the Boxing Day tsunami)

The main details of the project can be found here and a gallery of pictures here

From the dimensions given, they look to be using standard, 20 foot (6 meter) shipping containers for most units.

One housing container will accomodate five people and include a water supply and a basic fan for cooling. 100 containers = 500 people.

No information on the type of generator being used, other than it being at 50kva but would safely assume for convienience/price/risk of being damaged it is conventional diesel.

If I was to buy one, used container in this country, today, at around £1000, you can imagine buying 100 or so will net you a healthy discount! So, all in all maybe £300-500,000 to give a very basic standard of housing to 500 people? About the same as one nice 2 bed flat in central London?

On the one hand it is great to see a more advanced and permanent approach (at least to this amateurs eyes), compared to sticking up a load of tents or some kind of haphazard shanty town – but on the other, this increased investment into infrastructure – however modest – also reflects the assumption that these people may, sadly, end up being here for quite a long time. Some refugee camps have existed for so long that they become or merge with more permanent settlements over decades. (thanks Wikipedia)

Anyway. If you’d like to donate to the Al-Imdaad Foundation, they are a registered charity based in South Africa but with offices in the UK and around the world. Here they are on the Charity Commision website, and here is a news article about their other work in Syria. They post quite a bit on Twitter too : @Alimdaad_UK

Disclaimer: Yes, they have a religious angle which might put some people off, but their stated mission is  “PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN SERVICES IN CRISIS AND NON-CRISIS SITUATIONS TO MOST NEEDY ORPHANS, WIDOWS AND DESTITUTE, IRRESPECTIVE OF RACE, RELIGION, CULTURE, CREED AND GEOGRAPHICAL BOUNDARY.” Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children and the UN Refugee Agency are all running projects and appeals for Syrian refugees too.

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