Refugee camps are set up under crisis conditions in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) installed as a matter of course. However, in general, little account is taken of surface-water drainage or greywater management until the camp floods or greywater streams become an environmental or health issue. This article reports on the construction of a sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) management train in a refugee camp with the community and local non-governmental organizations to address excess surface water and lack of greywater management in this most challenging of environments. There is thus potential to influence policy, at the first stages of planning, to encourage the installation of drainage as well as WASH. SuDS mimic nature by percolating water into the ground, storing it and allowing slow conveyance to reduce the storm peak, improve water quality and provide space for amenity for residents and for biodiversity. By encouraging the water to infiltrate, polluted standing water between dwellings and on the street is reduced, so that human and environmental health is improved, with the potential to address nuisance-insect-breeding sites. Site walkovers, workshops and meetings engaged residents in the design process from the very beginning. The design produced by the community was professionally drawn up and passed to the UNHCR and local management engineers for comment and approval; this article describes the process of designing and constructing the first SuDS-management train to be built in a humanitarian setting.
Bibliographical noteThe Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.
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FunderHumanitarian Innovation Fund
- Sustainable Drainage (SuDS)
- refugee camp
- greywater management
- Community engagement
- management train