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What products around the area of disaster relief should be improved? E.g. water, food, shelter, safety, medical, education, lighting, etc.

I have some time to design and develop a product this year.
I'm currently researching disaster relief, and the displacement of people.

In either the preparation for, or the aid distributed following a disaster (possibly in camps);
Do you think there is a current product which could be improved, or a new product that is needed?

I feel I've seen many great products already, particularly water sanitation devices (e.g. 'The Life Saver', 'The Life straw', tablets and many more), and many for shelter also.

Should I avoid those topics and explore other needs such as waste, medical or education?
Do you have an opinion about other areas to be looked at?

I am aware this subject is huge, but it's my first time asking questions here, and I'm intrigued to see if anyone feels strongly about a certain area which could be developed.
So let me know, but note that inventing actual medicine is beyond my expertise!

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    Nov 14 2011: If you look at the pyramid of Maslow, you see that the first basics are water,food and shelter. You need to full fill the first step of the Pyramid before you can go to the next step. The funny thing is that health organisations will provide water and food and clothing. but won't provide shelter for everyone. So my answer will be, look for a method that will provide shelter and privacy for a family , and there are 2 requirements : it needs to be cheap, and you must build it within a hour. ( so shelter can be provided for everyone within a week) .
  • Nov 14 2011: This is an interesting question. Having worked in disaster relief and human needs projects, I think your idea of "products" is interesting but you have to be very practical.

    I honestly believe that water and food are # 1 priorities. Food is a bit easier now, but if you want a good product, find someone willing to construct a box with three burners, and three big pots. LP gas is available most of the time even in difficult situations. Buying and cooking locally marketed products can be easy. Water is so much more problematic. I have been in flood areas where food was relatively easy to obtain, but all the wells were polluted and the water from other sources like rivers was impossible to clean. Often the filtering plants are shut down. There are some good ways to get water, but they must be made even more inexpensively.

    Shelter is a difficulty also as Niek says. But then you always get into the debate of whether or not to build camps vs. keeping people close to their homes. I have seen people live in the street for three weeks or more in order to not leave behind their homes and belongings.

    Good luck with your project.