• Humanihut is a portable shelter system for refugees. (Supplied)
As a former soldier, Neale Sutton had first-hand experience of the atrocities of war. It was his biggest inspiration behind portable shelter system Humanihut.
Small Business Secrets

SBS Small Business Secrets
26 Mar - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 27 Mar - 9:02 AM

Humanihut is an invention that could potentially change the lives of millions. Invented by former soldier Neale Sutton, it provides shelter, running water and electricity for refugees.

Neale says the idea came to him and his friend and now partner of the business Andrew Hamilton after seeing the devastation of the Syrian crisis.

“With the knowledge I had from both the military and my humanitarian experience, and my partner Andrew Hamilton as a practicing doctor, so he had a primary health focus, we both felt that there was a better option than the tents they were using right there and then.”

However, one issue that many humanitarian organisations face are time constraints in providing adequate shelter for waves of displaced persons fleeing their home countries. It’s why Neale and his team ensured the Humanihut was designed to be as portable and compact as possible, making for easy setup.

Industrial designer John Brooks came on board, working with a town planner to refine some of the details of Humanihut.

“We layered the blocks of huts in a different pattern, so they bring small and large community spaces together and we can try and bring some community back into some of these more desperate situations,” John says.

Humanihut also got the help of Global Water, a South-Australian based company dealing in water and waste drainage solutions across numerous sectors.

After a long incubation period, the startup is now market-ready.

“We can put a camp with power, water, and sewage…for 2,500 people on the ground in three days. And we can redeploy it in the same time,” Neale says.

One challenge they’ve found in particular was that there wasn’t a blanket solution for all cases.

Anthony Ho, Engineering Manager of Global Water says, “The main challenge in designing the system of Humanihut has been to, first to appreciate that there is no one solution for all cases.”

With further collaboration with local suppliers to kit out each shelter with utilities and support from financial backers, Humanihut has the potential to help many of the 65 million refugees and displaced persons across the globe.

They are in the final stages of securing their first order with a department of the South Australian government.

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