01 July 2013

Catching Up: Ikea Innovates Refugee Shelters, Interview with Jina Moore, Podcast about Haiti, Cholera & the UN

I published three new pieces on Humanosphere on Friday that are quite different and all that I found to be really interesting. Most of my work these days is over there, so be sure to check it out.

First up is a conversation with reporter Jina Moore. She just published a cover story for the Christian Science Monitor on AIDS in South Africa. I had the chance to ask her five questions that go a bit beyond her reporting and even touch on what is coming next from her. A clip of one of Jina's responses:
There’s been a lot of progress regarding so-called “vulnerable groups,” in particular sex workers, men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users. And just a few days ago, the US Supreme Court struck down a plank of PEPFAR that required agencies using its funding to sign a pledge that they won’t “support” prostitution — a rule that had the effect of excluding sex workers from PEPFAR-funded interventions.
I then wrote about a new initiative from the IKEA foundation that developed new refugee shelters. The program will be piloted in the coming months in some of the most challenging locations. The Swedish furniture maker brings flat-packing and some neat innovations to the humanitarian field. From what I am told, it will cost in the ballpark of $5,000 for the units. Right now it seems they are trying to see if they will work.
It also comes packed with some neat innovations. A screen on the top of the shelter that provides 70% solar reflection during the day to keep the shelter cool and acts as insulation to keep heat in at night. Solar strips sit on top to capture energy that powers the shelter. Steel holds up the house, but the plastic sides are a new polymer that allows light to stream in during the day, but does not cast shadows from inside at night. This provides families with the privacy that they desire.

Finally, I caught up with Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). His group is responsible for the lawsuit that is being brought against the UN for its role in bringing cholera to Haiti. The recorded conversation spans Concannon's early work as a UN volunteer, the nature of the outbreak and the direction of the case. It is packed with a lot of information, but I'd highly recommend listening if you want to learn more about what happened and his case for bring a lawsuit against the UN.

Listen here.