The five briefs for the WDCD Refugee Challenge: Brief 4

Design better communication channels for refugees

Published in Refugee Challenge by

The WDCD Refugee Challenge actually consists of five challenges! Each of the five briefs addresses a specific issue refugees encounter during the reception and acceptance procedure in the country where they have landed. The fourth brief asks What Design Can Do to exchange essential information with refugees.

Many countries are still adapting to the large numbers of refugees entering Europe. Laws and procedures are adopted and amended at local, national and European levels on an ongoing basis. Governments, bottom-up volunteer initiatives and NGO programmes try to communicate this essential information.

However, such information reaches refugees more or less randomly, making it difficult for them to obtain accurate, clear and relevant information about their rights and available services. Moreover, there is often little opportunity for refugees to provide feedback, making it unclear whether current services meet their needs.

Missed opportunity

This is a missed opportunity for service improvement and innovation. How can we improve two-way communication with refugees?

Designers are good at packaging complex, dynamic information into understandable and accessible communication. Think of visualizations, digital interfaces, search engines, media campaigns or toolkits that explain the rights and duties of refugees and the services available to them. How can essential information in different countries at different stages of the asylum procedure be communicated better? And how can a successful feedback loop be established that will allow refugees to get involved in the redesign of these services?

Best practices

Already some examples of provision of information to migrant refugees have been mentioned on this blog. Billy Nolan reported on broadcasters that decided to welcome refugees with dedicated platforms and we’ve also referred to the many platforms with refugee stories that form an important source for refugees too. And we mentioned ICOON, a free picture dictionary that helps refugees to communicate and gather information  through pictures.

Download the full WDCD Refugee Challenge brief including background information and research material from and join the challenge.


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