Flat pack housing, inspired by Ikea’s famous self-assembly furniture, is providing a more sturdy alternative to tents in refugee camps, according to an annual report released today by the family business’s philanthropic foundation.
According to the Ikea Foundation, the units can comfortably house five people, and are more secure and durable than the tents that are normally used, which need to be replaced about every six months.
The 2013 review, Snapshots from our journey, also reveals the foundation, started by Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad in 1982, donated €101 million to charity – a 21% increase on donations made in 2012. The donations amount to 3% of the furniture chain's profits.
Chief executive Per Heggenes said the foundation, which is one of the largest philanthropic vehicles in the world, aims to reach 100 million children and their families by 2015.
Visiting Ethiopia in September, Heggenes saw firsthand how one of the foundation’s prototype shelters was being used, meeting the Ahmed family living in the Kobe refugee camp – their newborn baby Yunis Hassan Ahmed, then aged just 27 days old, was born in the shelter. The family fled from the conflict in Somalia.
The Ikea Foundation report also detailed an initiative to provide solar lighting and fuel efficient cooking stoves for millions of refugees, by donating €1 to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for every LED light bulb sold in Ikea stores until 29 March.
The foundation donated 50,000 Ikea mattresses to UNHCR for refugees from the Syrian crisis and more than €3 million to non-government organisations working in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.
It also started working with 12 new charities last year, and now works with 31 non-profit organisations in 35 countries, supporting causes such as women and children's education in developing countries, child poverty and disaster relief.