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    Improving solar powered lighting systems in refugee settlements

    by Ece Ozerdem 10/23/2017 01:41 AM BST

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      My practice was tested or implemented in:

      The Americas

      Give a brief outline of your promising practice:

      As my thesis research and project, I tackled with lighting and electricity problems in refugee settlements. Taking "Better Shelter" -which is a product UNHCR worked with IKEA to develop- as an exemplary shelter, I did research and conducted an experiment to enhance the lighting in the shelter. I found the integrated solar panel on the roof of the shelters very promising and proposed a lighting system that is connected to the solar panel. This system would allow indirect ambient lighting and direct task lighting in the shelter to create a dynamic, multifunctional environment so that even a family of 5 can have a better quality time after sunsets. Creating layers of light is a rule for good lighting design, and I wanted to show that it can also be achieved in a temporary settlement using the lanterns that are being used right now by just aiming them differently or using accessories to manipulate light and enhance the light quality. I also propose the task lighting to be portable, which can help with the safety for night time dangers in a camp.

      The main lessons learned during the process of implementing or testing my practice:

      I conducted an experiment to test the proposed system by creating the same conditions in a refugee shelter (material/lighting/size etc) and asking my subjects to follow the pattern of an ordinary day. After creating the conditions of current night time, I saw that the light levels are not enough for one human being to function comfortably in the space, let alone a family of 5. The dynamism that proposed lighting system brought created a much better atmosphere in the shelter. The psychological impact of being in the dark most of the time after a traumatizing experience should also not be overlooked. Having better lighting means having a better control over the space, which means a certain sense of psychological comfort as well as a physiological one.

      What is the significance of your experience/practice:

      Lighting seems like a low-priority subject for transitional settlements but the impact of better lighting design can be quite amazing. Creating a home out of a container or a tent is a hard job but it is a necessary one for persons of concern. Lighting can help with that. Better lighting design is about manipulating the light in a way that can help a space become a place and what I propose would hopefully help transitional settlements become better places to live for refugees.

      I would be interested in working with UNHCR Innovation Service to further document my practice or lessons learned:

      Yes

      Please attach any additional information and documents you'd like to share

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