It’s no secret that shipping containers have become extremely versatile in the modern world, being transformed into houses, pop-up stores, offices, bars, cafes and more. What might not be as well-publicised is the use of shipping containers to help improve the quality of life for people in third world countries.
Not only does this recycling of used shipping containers for other purposes help less fortunate communities, it’s also helping the environment in the process by not allowing these bulky items of solid steel ending up rusting away in landfill.
Let’s take a look at just some of the ways shipping containers are helping people in humble communities.
One of the best features of the pop-up clinic is that they are mobile and can be transported from village to village. The are not fully equipped mini hospitals, but generally contain some rudimentary medical equipment (the basics) and supplies.
People in the village can come to the pop-up clinic and consult with a doctor. Even if it’s difficult to get the clinic right into the heart of the village itself, doctors can take basic equipment into the village, run tests on patients, then return to the clinic for any medications the patients may require.
These handy transportable clinics are not limited to GPs, but also serve as mini optometrist practices, as well as dental clinics.
Early detection of conditions will help prevent them becoming more serious. Third world communities in more remote areas often don’t have ready access to medical facilities, and therefore injuries and illnesses often transform into more major conditions as a result.
Pop-up medical clinics are playing a major role and keeping these communities healthy and happy.
Another very critical aspect of the shipping container clinic is they are relatively cheap to set up compared to building a full blown medical clinic or establishing a hospital. Shipping containers are also highly secure, reducing the chance of the theft of medical supplies and equipment.
While the humble shipping container medical facility cannot solve all of the health problems in remote communities, they do play a vital role in helping medical professionals make direct contact with many people who might otherwise never get to consult with a doctor, optometrist or dentist.
Shipping container pop-up clinics are also employed in emergency situations, such as when a devastating earthquake flattened much of Haiti in 2010.
Rather than charity organisations simply providing funding for education in disadvantaged communities - such as parts of Africa and South-East Asia - they are providing infrastructure.
Due to the speed with which they can be transformed, and the massive savings on building costs, shipping container classrooms are being installed in remote villages around the world to educate children in these communities.
Entire mini schools are being built in rapid time from converted shipping containers. The classrooms are equipped with chairs and desks. Windows are cut into the sides of the containers to let in natural light. These windows are also fitted with security to deter theft and vandalism.
Because of their solid steel construction, cargo containers are basically fire proof, as well as being extremely hardy and durable.
Not only that, because shipping containers are so rigid, they form a very safe structure as compared to many of the somewhat questionable building methods employed in certain parts of the world. This results in a far safer learning environment for the children, as well as ensuring the longevity of the school itself.
It’s not just classrooms that are being created from the humble shipping container either. Cargo containers are also being repurposed to become school libraries, where the space has been utilised to line the walls with books, give children access to computers, as well as providing quiet and resourceful places for the kids to read and study.
To provide everyone attending the school with healthy meals, shipping container kitchens have proven to be a winner. These mobile kitchens are equipped with gas burning stoves, proper ventilation, hygienic stainless steel work benches and loads of cooking utensils.
With many parents in disadvantaged communities either working long hours, or spending time away from home in search of work, the shipping container schools also double as child care facilities, providing a safe and secure haven for the children until they are picked up by their parents.
Small homes constructed from shipping containers can be both a temporary or permanent measure to provide accommodation in struggling communities.
When it comes to a crisis, such as destruction from tropical storms or earthquakes, portable container homes can be shipped in to provide temporary shelter for the masses left homeless after a devastating natural disaster.
On a more permanent level, just as containers are being converted into classrooms and schools, they can also provide fast and affordable housing in remote communities, as well as a lot more strength and security.
Even a converted 20 foot shipping container can provide safe and secure sleeping for an entire family in underprivileged villages. With proper insulation, air vents or whirly birds fitted, cargo containers can become a comfortable environment even in harsher climates.
To add a level of sustainability, they can even be powered by solar electricity, helping reduce our carbon footprint on both an energy and construction level, while at the same time providing a vital service to disadvantaged communities the world over.
To Wrap It Up
Long gone are the days when shipping containers only served the purpose of transporting cargo or storing goods. Their modular and robust structure forms the perfect solution for so many other extremely useful, innovative and life changing applications.
These days the humble shipping container is saving lives across the globe – Literally.
Nowadays people in more remote parts of the world are receiving the medical attention they desperately need and deserve. Children are being educated and cared for in safe environments, and people hit hard by natural disasters are no longer being left homeless and without shelter.
Shipping containers might not look like much on the surface, but their transformation can help transform lives.