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UNICEF Innovation

Emergency Structures

Structures currently used for programmatic and operational responses in emergency situations are not meeting users’ requirements. There is a need for emergency structures that can be rapidly deployed and made ready for use, offering fit-for-use spaces

UNICEF Image: People outisde a tent at a UNICEF supported health center for people displaced by floods at the Toukra IDP site in N'Djamena, Chad on Monday October 22, 2012.
© UNICEF/UN012289/Sokhin

In October 2017, UNICEF published revised Target Product Profiles (TPP) to specify requirements for Multipurpose Tents and Staff Structures.

Request for proposals for Multipurpose Tents and Staff Structures were released in October 2017.





In emergency situations, UNICEF uses multipurpose tents of various sizes (24m², 48m², 72m²) for schools, health clinics, nutrition facilities, distribution points and child friendly spaces. Structures are also needed to provide adequate living and office space for UNICEF staff in these situations. Such structure solutions need to be rapidly deployable, flexible and made ready for use in the shortest possible timeframe and meet the desired design and performance requirements. Feedback received from field colleagues and partners reveals that current structures are not ideal for programmatic use and improvements should be made in terms of temperature control, ventilation, storage, transportation and anchoring to better serve different purposes and functions.

The project 

The current emergency structures UNICEF uses have proven highly useful in emergency situations. Until now, in standard responses, pre-fabricated solutions were used only in the context of staff accommodation, including ablution units and office structures.
However, improvements can be made, particularly with regards to further decrease in weight without losing any of the stability, the ease of assembling and simple options for modular extensions of a basic stand size to be agreed upon. Therefore the organisation needs to become up to date with technologies and designs to ensure it procures fit for purpose solutions to UNICEF’s programmes and emergencies.
Over the years, UNICEF has received feedback from country offices calling for emergency structures that can serve a variety of purposes. The basic tents have not been able to satisfy the multiplicity of environmental, cultural, and programmatic needs in the contexts where UNICEF operates. Due to this, UNICEF conducted market research on commercially available structure solutions in 2014 to see whether there were novel solutions available. Following this, needs requirements were gathered through interviews with UNICEF colleagues and partners to ensure requirements throughout the supply chain were captured from various regions and geographic conditions. It was identified that the current multipurpose tents and staff accommodation and office structures were not entirely fit-for-purpose, however there was no readily available solution on the market that met all of UNICEF’s needs. Two Target Product Profiles (TPP) were developed as a result outlining the minimum and ideal product, performance and user requirements to guide industry to develop improved emergency structures.

Related information

Creating better products for children through co-creation with industry: An interview with Bo Sorensen on the Emergency Multi-Purpose Tents project (November, 2018)

UNICEF Target Product Profiles webpage




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