Yusif Sidik
Senior Field Assistant
Duty Station: Takoradi, Ghana

I’m addressing the challenge of how we can empower refugee communities to create more durable housing in camps.

In March 2011 Ghana experienced an influx of Ivorian refugees in the country. Emergency tents were erected for all asylum seekers who arrived in the country as a temporary shelter solution. As the situation in Ivory Coast improved a large number of the refugees returned home, however many remained.  While vulnerable and non-vulnerable persons of concern have been provided with more durable transitional housing, some remain in tents within the camps.

I want to find a solution to this challenge because emergency tents provide little protection against theft and harsh weather conditions.

In my work, I’ve seen refugees develop their own solutions to these problems. They adopt solutions and materials used by the surrounding local community to strengthen their emergency tents in the camp. We need to find a sustainable solution for shelter construction in the camp. We especially need to find a solution that enables refugees to build their own shelters with technical assistance.

After crowdsourcing 28 ideas on how to address my challenge from colleagues and refugees, I held an interactive workshop with the refugees in my community. Through the refugee community’s drawings and models I was able to better understand the shelter needs of the community. 

Innovation Fellow Yusif holds a brainstorming workshop with refugees in Ghana.