CORDIS - EU research results

Rapid deployable kits as seeds for self-recovery

Final Report Summary - S(P)EEDKITS (Rapid deployable kits as seeds for self-recovery)

Executive Summary:
The European project S(P)EEDKITS developed rapid deployable, modular and lightweight emergency response units. By bringing together 15 partners, S(P)EEDKITS pooled expertise on the currently used emergency kits and their limitations when being deployed and used. Novel materials and concepts were developed to reduce weight, volume and delivery time (SPEED aspect) but also to extend the life span of the solutions into the long-term recovery (SEED aspect). Special attention was given to smart packaging of the kits. The resulting novel emergency kits are modular and adaptable, low cost, high-tech in their conception but low-tech in use.

Kits were developed in the areas of shelter, water, sanitation, energy supply, medical infrastructure, construction as well as software for tracking and deployment support. Within S(P)EEDKITS we managed for several ideas to go from the basic concept to advanced prototypes that could be demonstrated via a field deployment.

Some of the advanced prototypes were by the end of the project even already available as commercial product. This was the case for the containerised medical kits, the water tower kit, the desludging kit, the raised latrines and the jetting kit for water well drilling. This became possible via the industrial partners within S(P)EEDKITS but also thanks to the collaboration sought with several external manufacturing companies.

The dissemination activities of the project focussed on the individual kits but also on the S(P)EEDKITS project itself. The latter means that we tried to promote the way of working we had in S(P)EEDKITS (i.e. a collaboration with partners from the humanitarian sector, from industry and from research side) as a necessary condition for successful innovation in the humanitarian sector.

A lasting impact of the project is expected. As mentioned, several of the kits are by now commercial products and are (becoming to be) used in the humanitarian sector. Because of S(P)EEDKITS, several partners are now well-established players for the humanitarian sector. Moreover, two approaches of S(P)EEDKITS are being generally recognised: the need for the combination of SPEED and SEED and the acknowledgement that humanitarian innovation requires effective collaboration with players from humanitarian, industry and research side.

Project Context and Objectives:
The main objective of S(P)EEDKITS is to develop emergency aid kits which can be deployed on short-term (speed). Following best practice guidelines from humanitarian organisations, these kits will also be suited for the longer term self-recovery process after a disaster strikes (seed).

Humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross have Emergency Response Units (ERUs) in stand-by, which start acting immediately after a disaster strikes. Each unit has a specific function, e.g. medical care, sanitation, energy provision, or water supply.

S(P)EEDKITS targets a smart (re-)design of existing / novel kits via smart packaging and via the introduction of the latest technological developments from a wide range of domains such as coated textile materials, ICT, material development, tensile structures, construction. Some examples: lightweight and durable tent materials, novel concepts for energy supply, kits for debris recuperation, rapid deployable container solutions for a mobile hospital.

Basically, the goal of S(P)EEDKITS is to develop a set of kits for existing ERUs. Therefore, S(P)EEDKITS envisions the following concepts:
• Pre-positioned speedkits, i.e. kits than can be delivered in a very SPEEDy way and that provide key elements needed during the first hours after an emergency: e.g. container-based medical infrastructure, water and sanitation kits and shelters.
• Deployment Support Tool (DST) to prioritise the type of kits and select transportation modes for the emergency action.
• Maximise transportability by providing pre-positionable kits which are easy to handle, light-weight, ready before a disaster strikes and adaptable to the specific needs.
• Tracking of goods and real-time overview via dedicated software tools.
• Following best practice guidelines at humanitarian organisations, these solutions will not only be speedkits but also seedkits, i.e. kits that form the SEEDs for the long term self-recovery process, thereby involving local people.
• Provide continuation in this self-recovery, the S(P)EEDKITS project foresees also kits for immediately after the critical first aid (e.g. larger sanitation units, sustainable energy generation, a mobile recycling unit for debris).

Project Results:
Within S(P)EEDKITS we designed, developed, tested and demonstrated units for emergency response in several domains: shelter, water and sanitation and logistics. Also infrastructure for medical, energy and construction was developed. A list of kits that were developed with a short description:
Clever Roof: A short term solution providing first protection against sun and rain and offering several configurations
Cocoon: An insulated versatile core unit offering thermal and acoustic performances which provides a first partitioning system in emergency context. Moreover, it is designed to upgrade the clever roof providing a closed autonomous cell
Multipurpose unit: A multifunctional light and shaded structure able to quickly provide space for medical and communal uses or storage; as dispensary or ward, classroom, orphanage, small collective entity, office, drug store, ...
Mobile Modular Unit: An easy transportable lightweight structure (re)buildable by hand offering high resistance against external constraints (wind and snow) with a large amount of upgrades available to fit every type of needs
Collective Centre: A fast deployable modular collective centre for various purposes, eg medical, storage, offices,...
Water pouch: A flexible water container for individual transport of 20 litres of water from source to the dwellings and safe water storage. It could be used as an alternative of rigid jerry can. The container is made of coated textile and a flexible inner liner. Its flexibility allows to fold it tight for transportation
Jetting kit: A rotary jetting kit for manual well drilling up to 30 meters through unconsolidated soil formations
Capstan based drilling kit: A simple and affordable mechanical device using a rotating capstan to improve the use of manual drilling in consolidated and highly weathered rock formations
Raised latrine: A sanitation system for emergency response
Desludging device: A mobile unit for safely emptying and cleaning pit latrines in a very simple and economical manner.
Sludge treatment & Disposal: A set of low cost basic methods for treatment of dangerous faecal sludge
Sludge pasteuriser unit: A unit to pasteurize faecal matter or other slurry to destroy enteric bacteria causing diarrhea
Container water treatment: A compact, mobile water filtration kit that is integrated in the medical container solutions
Water tower kit: A compactly packed rapid deployable water tower specifically designed for providing a water pressure distribution system
Biogas kit: A treatment unit for (pasteurized) faecal sludge that stabilizes the sludge and that delivers as output biogas and digested slurry
Shelter socket: A small solar powered unit that provides a care free USB port for charging small devices such as lights and telephones that can be attached to shelter membranes.
Clearing kit (CK): A modular rapid deployable clearing kit that clears (concrete) debris, and process this into quality aggregates for new concrete to be used in local reconstruction
Debris recuperation kit (DRK): A containerised unit that enables local production of concrete bricks from debris.
Cellular communication kit (CCK): A kit that provides a local mobile phone network that can be easily installed if local infrastructure is damaged or not available.
Rapid deployment field hospital & medical container: A mobile operation theatre that is turn-key and plug and play. This unit can be transported to a disaster area and can start virtually immediately with surgical procedures, since all needed items and installations are delivered inside
Medical containers (Operation Theatre, X-ray, Maternity, Dental, etc): A containerized medical room that is turn-key and plug and play. This medical room can delivered as a medical department, like surgical, maternal, x-ray, laboratory, dental, ophthalmic, sterilization, treatment, staff room, storage room and sanitary unit.
Decision Support Tool (DST): A multi-module tool that offers assistance to emergency experts in the field during emergency response campaigns, containing a module to organise transport and five modules to support water, sanitation, shelter, recovery and medical deployment
Tracking system: A web based software tool enabling to remotely plan the interventions and to assess the situation in the disaster area by the tracking system

The S(P)EEDKITS main research and development work was structured in 5 work packages: WP1-packaging, WP2-shelter, WP3-water and sanitation, WP4-infrastructure (medical, energy and construction) and WP5-deployment & transport. Now, we give an brief overview of the work performed and the main results per RTD work package.

• WP1-Packaging.
o Basic activity was the development of an optimised packaging concept. The concept that emerged is based on bag-level modules that act as a subset of the standardized Euro-Pallet. Of this basic module several “families” can be developed, so that they can accommodate an optimized volume of the load on the pallet in the container. This is the ‘Nesting Bag Module’ or NBM concept.
o The basic packaging design principles and guidelines have been outlined and have given the good foundations to proceed with further developments in term of optimizing the packaging system and structure as well as trying to simplify the way kits are packaged and the way they transit along the supply chain.

• WP2-Shelter.
The main objective of this WP is to design and develop novel shelter kits for four different basic uses. An overview of all four:
o Clever roof: A short term solution providing first protection against sun and rain and offering several configurations;
o Multipurpose unit: A multifunctional light and shaded structure able to quickly provide space for medical and communal uses or storage; as dispensary or ward, classroom, orphanage, small collective entity, office, drug store, ...;
o Cocoon: An insulated versatile core unit offering thermal and acoustic performances which provides a first partitioning system in emergency context. Moreover, it is designed to upgrade the clever roof providing a closed autonomous cell
o Mobile Modular unit: An easy transportable lightweight structure (re)buildable by hand offering high resistance against external constraints (wind and snow) with a large amount of upgrades available to fit every type of needs.
Further, focus has been on the shelter cladding materials including characterisation of thermal properties of shadow nets and development of thermo regulating fabrics and on the further optimisation of the so-called collective centre.

• WP3-Water and Sanitation.
Within this WP several concepts in the area of watsan were proposed but by now the focus is on well selected topics in three areas:
o Sanitation kits. This covers a raised latrine kit, desludging, faecal sludge management. For the raised latrine and desludging kits several generations of (advanced) prototypes have been made, thereby also taking into account mass production aspects. Desludging and sludge management testing was performed in Malawi. A pasteuriser unit has been prototyped and has shown the effectiveness of sludge pasteurisation with respect to reducing the risk of faecal-oral transmitted diseases like cholera.
o Water kits. Two types of drilling kits for water wells were conceived, developed and optimised: a manual water jetting kit and a semi-manual capstan kit. A new generation of the foldable water bag was developed and tested.
o Add-on kits. Water storage and treatment units for use in combination with medical container-based infrastructure were developed. A water tower kit has been prototyped based on a study of the water needs for a typical MSF medical compound.

• WP4 – Infrastructure (medical, energy and construction).
o Medical: we developed the concept of a container-based rapid deployment field hospital, which is autonomous, modular and plug and play. It consists of several modular installations (air, water, electricity).
o Energy: the so-called Shelter Socket, a small scale photovoltaic (PV) solution specifically for mounting on shelters, has seen several rounds of design improvement and thorough testing. This lead to several demonstrators and a final advanced prototype was taken to an external partner for commercialisation (see “exploitation”). A prototype of a large scale PV sail has been realised.
o Construction: two types of containerised kits have been developed. There is a clearing kit that crushes concrete debris in a smart way. With ‘smart’ we refer to the fact that aggregates can be obtained in nearly their original shape. Further, also a debris recuperation kit has been made that can when deployed offers a small plant to make concrete bricks.

• WP5-Deployment & tracking.
o A Decision Support Tool has been developed with several modules: Water, Medical, Sanitation, Shelter, Recovery and Prioritization/Transport.
o A tracking system has been developed based on a combination of different technologies (RFID, GPS, barcode, QR-code) using an Open ERP suite in order to be modular and to be complementary with existing solutions currently used by humanitarian end-users.
o A software tool for central operational planning and for local assessment of the situation has been developed. This tool allows managing the information of the tracking system for the local assessment of the situation.

Within S(P)EEDKITS we also had a workpackage on demonstration. Within this work package, we wanted to do ‘real demonstration’, i.e. the actual deployment in the field of the prototype kits that were mature enough. Of course, this is not evident.
First of all, it is virtually impossible to organise field-research in an actual disaster situation. One of the main reasons is that vulnerable end-users are, because of ethical reasons, not the preferred research subjects. Furthermore, as a disaster by definition occurs unexpected, it cannot be planned for. Therefore, S(P)EEDKITS partners looked for collaboration with humanitarian organisation who had on-going interventions in the field in less urgent situations to organise a field test.

Second, it is important to fulfil all requirements with respect to ethics, safety and security. Therefore, S(P)EEDKITS partners were required to ensure the safety of field researchers, staff and all other participants (including the beneficiaries) involved. Further, guidelines were provided for the following: (i) to comment on the identification of participants; (ii) to explain – if vulnerable groups or individuals are involved – how (further) stigmatisation or vulnerabilising is mitigated; (iii) to elaborate on benefit-sharing arrangements between stakeholders involved in testing and demonstration; (iv) to comply with ethical guidelines of FP7.

In spite of the hurdles, several field demonstrations could be organised. Such field testing is really needed, even when items are thoroughly tested in simulated field conditions in Europe. An overview of the main demonstration actions:
° Shelter testing in Mongolia (winterisation of shelter), Burkina Faso (influence of shade nets, first prototypes of clever roof) and Senegal (see further: demo case 2).
° Desludging kit in Malawi (testing of desludging for longer time)
° Water drilling was demonstrated in Madagascar (demo of capstan kit) and in Liberia and Ethiopia (demo of manual jetting kit)
°Containerised medical infrastructure was deployed at several locations (see further: demo case 1).
°Biogas kit was demonstrated on a farm in South-Africa (focus on actual deployment and longer term use)

We now describe in some more detail two of the more extensive demo cases that were realised.

DEMO CASE 1 - Containerised medical infrastructure was developed, brought to market and successfully deployed in Syria, Darfur, Turkey, The Philippines and to fight Ebola.

Within S(P)EEDKITS, various containerized medical solutions were developed. The starting point for all these modules is the same: a standard shipping container with high-tech finishing and technical installations. The use of the standard container makes this solution very easy to transport. Moreover, due to its modular design, it is possible to adapt the basic container for many different scenarios, e.g. operation theatre, maternity (so-called Maternitainer), x-ray area or medical lab. After the passage of typhoon Haiyan struck in The Philippines, a medical container was flown over to there where it served, among others, as operation theatre for performing C-sections. Also humanitarian organisations working in Syria showed interest in this S(P)EEDKITS development, leading to the deployment of 4 Hospitainers (in Aleppo, Homs, Bab Al Salam and Hama/Idlib) and 2 Maternitainers (in Kobane and Da’ra). In Homs over 3000 surgical interventions were performed within 24 months.

The flexibility of the solution was shown during the Ebola crisis when a high tech mobile lab, especially equipped to perform the Ebola screening test, was developed in short time and send to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Having a lab so close to an Ebola Management Centre saved precious hours in diagnosing the disease. These containerised medical solutions are currently also used on board of an MSF ship that collects refugees on the Mediterranean Sea. Further, Hospitainer solutions have also already been deployed in Darfur and in Turkey.

DEMO CASE 2 - Novel emergency shelter solution consisting of a ‘Clever Roof’ and a ‘Cocoon’ successfully demonstrated in Senegal.

Beginning of December 2015, S(P)EEDKITS performed a successful deployment of shelter solutions in North-Senegal: a novel type of emergency housing consisting of a ‘Clever Roof’ and complementary ’Cocoon’ were handed out to the local population as part of the demonstration activities. The field deployment of the developed prototypes allowed the S(P)EEDKITS partners to gather valuable information for the final fine tuning of the solutions before going commercial.

The novel shelter kit consists of a ‘Clever Roof’ and a ‘Cocoon’. The kit offers a waterproof shelter, has a high thermal insulation factor, is delivered in dedicated backpacks that make transport easy, is quickly deployable by non-professionals and has a much longer life span than currently used tents. A clear universal manual is included. The use of the kit to set up a shelter is based on simple techniques, different configurations and assemblies are possible. If not needed anymore, the roof can be reused as a market cover or any other canopy.

After a natural disaster, the victims have all too often to sleep the first night(s) in the open air. This was the case after the recent earthquake in Nepal: victims were afraid to stay in their homes and therefore slept on the streets or in parks. At best, they had a plastic sheet available for cover. At the time of the Haiti earthquake there was a similar situation. Using the novel shelter kit developed in S(P)EEDKITS can avoid such situations in the future. The need is huge: earthquakes made over the last 15 years an annual average death toll of more than 65,000 people, a multiple thereof were rendered homeless and can therefore be helped by this new development.

Potential Impact:
General Impact

The S(P)EEDKITS project is unique in its consortium members, having partners from the humanitarian sector, from industry and from research side. These are all three necessary as the collaboration of only two of the three partners has some typical drawbacks/limitations. A bit provocatively phrased, we have the following pairing situations: (i) humanitarians and research side working together leads to brilliant solutions that nobody can produce (at an economical price); (ii) In practice, the relationship industry-humanitarians means that the first all-too-often dump existing solutions on the latter in the hope these items will be taken up for field use; (iii) industry and research working together without the actual end-user involved will, of course, not lead to solutions that account for the actual situation of humanitarian field work. Therefore, all three partner types are required. It is recognised that S(P)EEDKITS is the first time these three types of partners work collaboratively together on such a large scale for four years. As such the project serves, and will continue to serve, as an example.

For several of the developed kits (see before) a so-called description sheet has been made. This is based on the way humanitarian organisations make (emergency) catalogues. These sheets give a short description of the item/kit. Within the project we added also the parameters ‘social’, ‘coordination’, ‘logistics’, ‘transport’ and ’environment’. These are the parameters that were initially set out as key aspects/guidelines for the kits to be developed. By providing description sheets, the humanitarian sector is offered a means to assess and evaluate the developed kits. This is needed as a general evaluation on deployment and suitability is very difficult to achieve in general terms. Indeed, a lot depends on the actual needs, which is determined by the specific context (geographical, climatological, cultural,...). Moreover, our goal is that humanitarian organisations will integrate the newly developed S(P)EEDKITS kits in their emergency catalogues. The S(P)EEDKITS description sheets give the first information needed to get there. This is important as these emergency catalogues (e.g. from the International Federation of the Red Cross, or Médecins Sans Frontières or Oxfam) serve as reference: items in there are accepted and validated. However, this also implies that getting into the catalogue is a long and tedious process. So far, only the jetting kit developed in WP3 by partner PRACTICA made into the catalogue of Oxfam UK, see link:

Socio-economic impact

S(P)EEDKITS started from the concept of combining SPEED and SEED. This concept has been realised in practice and is showing its impact. A very nice illustration of this is given by the containerised medical solutions. The medical container can be used stand-alone, but the deployment in Syria showed that people typical use it as the start of a larger hospital. The container can be placed inside or next to a building, the container itself is used as operation theatre and the area around it as a further extension of the hospital (patient beds, reception area,...). This way the container kit, which can be easily transported by ship or airplane (SPEED), literally becomes also the core (or SEED) from which the hospital develops and grows. This shows how the kits from our project develop their impact in developing regions.

Dissemination activities

During the lifetime of S(P)EEDKITS, partners participated and organised numerous events from participation in conferences and high level meetings with humanitarian organisations to performance in radio and tv shows. Here, we just highlight a few of them.

Participation in AidEx fair in 2012, 2014 and 2015. AidEx is the leading fair for the international aid and development community to come together with the aim of improving delivery of humanitarian aid. For S(P)EEDKITS it was the ideal platform to show itself to its main stakeholders. Therefore, a large booth was rented in the first S(P)EEDKITS year to raise awareness about the project. This was very successful as we attracted a lot of attention, leading to useful contacts. In 2014 some presentations were given at the fair on the project. In the 2015 edition S(P)EEDKITS had again a booth at the fair itself and was given the opportunity to present the kits in a dedicated workshop for an interested audience. Furthermore, space to demonstrate the most advanced prototypes was made available by MSF Belgium (Operational Centre Brussels - OCB) as we could use their training centre. This area is located close to the AidEx fair area. Around sixty AidEx visitors used the shuttle bus we organised to visit this site. The demonstration tours along the prototypes displayed resulted in several requests for more technical and commercial info. For example, MSF showed an interest in IBBK’s pasteurizer and a contract was signed by NRS International (the largest supplier of non-food items to the humanitarian sector) to commercialize the shelter socket. Also a (Belgian) tv channel came by and integrated an item on our developments in their news.

In Dakar, a S(P)EEDKITS conference was organised to promote the shelter demonstration activities performed in Senegal to the local representatives of humanitarian organisations. This conference attracted several interested shelter experts based in Africa, e.g. representatives of humanitarian shelter actors like UNHCR, ALIMA, several African national Red Cross societies, etc.... A prototype of the Clever Roof and Cocoon were on display.

Videos. During the field demonstration events, several partners made footage. Links can be found on the website. As an example, we mention the video made on the Shelter related activities, which focusses on the shelter demonstration in Senegal (see:

Website. A project website was created at the start of S(P)EEDKITS. Around mid-term, when the results became substantial, the website got a make-over and was reinforced for both content and form. It was used to announce our events, news and to publish the (public part of the) deliverables and other relevant S(P)EEDKITS related material.

Exploitation of results

Within S(P)EEDKITS, exploitation was from the beginning seen as a key element because all partners agreed we should aim for results that make it into the field and not for (theoretical) studies, even though the latter can also be very useful.

The work of S(P)EEDKITS lead to two patents, was the basis for three PhD theses and several graduation theses and (technical) publications.

We focussed on exploitation via the actual commercialisation of S(P)EEDKITS solutions or by ‘embedding’ S(P)EEDKITS results in new actions to ensure the project legacy. A key aspect for that was the transfer of results towards companies to ensure the actual commercialisation of S(P)EEDKITS developments and prototypes.

Within S(P)EEDKITS, the commercial partners did efforts to exploit the obtained results. An overview:
• During the final year of S(P)EEDKITS we witnessed the spectacular growth of partner MIL due to the take-off of the containerised medical solutions, the so-called ‘Hospitainers’, which are by now in use at several locations worldwide, e.g. in Syria, The Philippines, Darfur, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Partner MIL was, because of the commercialisation of these medical containers, able to grow for a 1-person company at the start of S(P)EEDKITS to a real SME employing by now 10 persons (and still growing). For larger projects, teams of up to 40 people are formed for the rapid assembly of the containerised solutions.
• Exploitation of partner DAPP focusses on the developed Decision Support Tool (DST) and on the Tracking System, stemming from WP5. Both the DST and the Tracking System are available online via an open source licence and the code will be downloadable. Partner DAPP, having a specialised department in Logistic and Transport, will exploit this outcome of S(P)EEDKITS via its consulting services.
• Partner DMF is working hard towards a first successful demonstration of its debris recycling concept (from WP4). Currently, it is running a crowd funding campaign to get the necessary funding together.
• Partner SIOEN is evaluating the options for commercialising the Clever Roof and the Cocoon. Although bringing the product on the market at a competitive price still requires further product (manufacturing) optimisation, the progress made the past months is promising.

Also for the non-commercial partners S(P)EEDKITS exploitation was fruitful. As an example, the work on shelter (materials) development allowed partner CENTEXBEL to further establish itself as the European reference centre for the testing of shelters and shelter materials for the humanitarian sector.

Outside S(P)EEDKITS: a large amount of effort was put into contacting external partners to bring forward and even commercialise the S(P)EEDKITS results. Several collaboration agreements were reached. A short overview:
• The company Flexiway Solar Solutions (part of NRS, the largest provider of non-food items to the humanitarian sector) was contacted for the Shelter Socket (from WP4). The goal is to have the product on the market by end of 2016.
• Tent producer Ferrino (Italy) was contacted for the commercialisation of the Multipurpose tent (from WP2).
• A collaboration was set up with SME company WRG (The Netherlands) for the prototyping and commercialisation of the Mobile Modular Unit (from WP2) and for the Water Tower kit (from WP4). The latter is currently already integrated in the commercial products that WRG offers to its clients and has already been sold to MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières.
• After meeting each other at a WASH training, S(P)EEDKITS partner WASTE and the company Flexxolutions started a collaboration as it turned out that both were developing a Raised Latrine. The joining up was successful as by taking the best of both sides, a raised latrine could readily be marketed by Flexxolutions. By now, several hundreds of the raised latrine have been sold to humanitarian organisations.
• To commercialise the desludging kit, partner WASTE decided to collaborate with the company ROM (The Netherlands). By now, the ROM Desludging Kit is a commercial product and first units have been sold already.
• Partner TUE teamed up with the company East Advice BVBA (Belgium) for the commercialisation of the Clearing Kit (from WP4). The agreement is that if TUE finds an interested humanitarian organisation, the company will make it for them.

This shows that the S(P)EEDKITS partners managed to get several initial ideas into real prototypes and even into commercially available products. Hence, it is fair to say that S(P)EEDKITS is a successful project with real, tangible results as outcome.

List of Websites:
Public website:

Contact info:
Guy Buyle
Technologiepark 7, B-9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium
Tel: +32-9-2204151