With regard to the question, ’What is the best thing designers can do to help the relief effort in Haiti?’ (Voxpop, DW 4 February), maybe the best thing that the UK design community could do for this type of disaster is to discreetly develop an intelligent, functional, co-ordinated range of equipment that can be stored around the world, ready for such incidents.
Typically, the first stage should be lightweight emergency packs that would include all the necessary stuff of life, such as temporary shelters/tents, bedding for children and adults, fresh water-purification equipment and other nourishment, and a simple radio which might allow authorities to communicate directly with the displaced, and instructions for use should be simple and pictographic.
Then a second stage of assistance, with well-designed modular dwellings that will give more permanent shelter and facilities/ flat-packed, easily erectable and well-thought out, with a two- to three-year life.
Joined-up design in such situations could prevent much of the far more harmful secondary, collateral misery, caused by dysfunctional ad-hoc aid solutions.
It will need some sort of a Thunderbirds-style international rescue organisation to deal with it for it to truly work.
Sebastian Conran, Director, Conran Associates, by e-mail