Supporting the integration of Indigenous Venezuelan refugees through participatory design ​

In Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Studio at Aalto University, multidisciplinary student teams carry out projects linked to sustainability challenges around the world. The assignments are implemented with partners from academia, industries, governmental and civil society organizations, and communities. The SGT Studio follows a problem-based learning methodology, where students learn by working on real life cases, in cooperation with partners. 

In spring 2023, a multidisciplinary master student team from Aalto University, Team Ponto, together with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Venezuelan Indigenous community Warao a Janoko collaborated to learn and build together solutions for improving living conditions through developing composting practices and piloting a rainwater gathering system in Cantá, Northern Brazil. Team Aalto and UNHCR started the project in January, narrowing the focus, doing stakeholder mapping and defining the result chain, during weekly partner meetings. After a few weeks and a couple of face-to-face meetings the Venezuelan Indigenous community, Warao a Janoko, agreed to participate in the project. From the beginning, the clear aim was to actively involve the community in every part of the project, to hear their needs and wishes, and to learn from their expertise so that they can retain ownership of the project. Their active participation from the beginning steered the project focus in a more suitable and sustainable direction. In March, all the partners met at the site in Cantá, Brazil, ready to start the participatory design project together. 

You can read more about the project and the participatory methods utilized in the project in the book Our Project Together and in the Method booklet, that are available for download on our website.