[Tech for Good] How Technology Can Help the Refugee Crisis

by Shu-Yu Liu

According to the latest report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of people forced to flee their homes due to war, violence, persecution, and human rights violations rose to 82.4 million in 2020. Perhaps it is time that we thought about how to use technology to help refugees improve their life.

Jerry Water Filter to provide safe drinking water

It is difficult to obtain clean drinking water in refugee camps where houses are usually temporary and shabby fab containers. For this, Forthemany has launched JERRY, a self-cleaning water filter. With the look of a bicycle pump, JERRY contains two filters. Users mount it onto a bucket or a jerrycan and press the pump on top; the unfiltered water is sucked into JERRY and will be filtered, with clean water flowing out from the side outlet pipe.

In addition, the product contains a self-cleaning mechanism, which automatically cleans the filters with every pump stroke. With an estimated lifespan of filtering over 10,000 liters of water for each device, there are now more than 100 prototypes undergoing testing for six months in refugee camps in Iraq.

JERRY 過濾器的外觀像是腳踏車的打氣筒。(圖片來源:JERRY)
將JERRY裝在裝水的容器中,輕輕按壓便可獲取乾淨的水源。(圖片來源:JERRY)

Looop Can sanitary pad washing kit reduces period poverty among refugees

Period poverty refers to a lack of access to menstrual products for economically disadvantaged women who are prone to end up with physical illness and mental health problems. This is even more common in refugee camps. Cheuk Laam Wong, a student with design profession, invented Looop Can, a cleaning kit to wash portable menstruation pads. Each kit contains a can for washing, baking soda powder, and reusable pads.

There is a screw-top cap and a container for storing baking soda. Users put the used pad in the container, add water and baking soda, screw the cap. Wait at least 30 minutes until the period blood disintegrates. Rinse and scrub it for 3 times and air-dry the pad, then voila!

Looop Can 組合包包括用來清潔的容器罐、小蘇打粉,及可重複使用的衛生棉。(圖片來源:Looop Can)
將衛生棉放到清洗罐中,加入水與小蘇打,就能簡單洗淨衛生棉。(圖片來源:Looop Can)

Mona, chatbot designed to provide real-time information for refugees

The co-founder of Marhub designed Mona, a chatbot that can connect to platforms that refugees are familiar with, such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram, where users can have access to real-time and reliable information and aid.

In early 2019, Marhub worked together with legal aid organizations to conduct tests on Mona, with a total of 5,000 refugees. With pre-designed questions for refugees to answer, non-profit organizations are able to select people eligible for resettlement.

Conclusion

With globalization, the refugee problem affects across borders. Makers are now rolling up sleeves to do their best in using technology to address challenges faced by refugees.

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