While floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes can turn towns into a nightmarish catastrophe within minutes, the most devastating natural disaster is war. After 19 years of terrorization by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Northern Uganda is home to 1.5 million refugees living in severely inadequate conditions. The site of our project, Pabbo Camp, is home to 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Four thousand people share one borehole, the only source of clean water, often waiting hours for their turn. Seventy-five percent of the food consumed in these camps is provided by aid organizations as few have jobs and most fear leaving the camps to farm. There is almost no economic activity.
Our project enables people to become self-sufficient by integrating low-tech amenities into their homes. By providing refugees with the means to collect rainwater and to cook using the sun, we can improve quality of life without dependency on government resources. Our design consists of three structural frames (pallet racks) outfitted to support the components of basic utilities. One collects, purifies, stores, and dispenses rainwater. The others incorporate a rooftop solar cooker and provide safe spaces for sleeping. When combined, they form one structural unit that can be built upon using local resources. These units can also be combined to form a clinic or community kitchen.
Our project considers, not only Uganda, but with the many places in distress around the world. By assuming that the units are imported, our system is adaptable to many environments. Pallet racks can be assembled, and disassembled, without the use of tools. The roof supports are bamboo, while the cladding is adobe brick. Both are local materials and could change based on location and climate. The flexibility of the design and universal necessity of its functions makes it appropriate for all disasters.