Developing an innovative design solution to improve uptake and continuity of antenatal care among Syrian refugee women in the Bekaa, Lebanon

In this project I engaged with Syrian refugees, health care providers and health policy makers to explore how technologies can be integrated in to reproductive healthcare. Through this research I identified that varying resources within the Lebanese primary healthcare system and healthcare providers’ views regarding refugees’ health and digital literacies need to be accounted for when designing e-health technologies. Furthermore, through engagements with Syrian refugees I identified that their experiences of low agency within the healthcare system and their interactions with healthcare providers to be a barrier to accessing reproductive healthcare.

Piloting Synchronous Interactive Voice Response systems to improve refugee access to healthcare in the Bekaa, Lebanon

Following on from my exploration of how technologies can be used to improve uptake and continuity of antenatal care among Syrian refugees I worked with a Syrian refugee community to co-design and pilot community radio shows for improving reproductive health. Through the study we observed the influence of community radio shows on Syrian refugee health education, community dynamics and community agency in relationships between healthcare providers and refugees. Refugees were positively impacted through situating the technology within the community.

Designing mental health apps to support young refugees and asylum seekers in Austria

I collaborated with researchers at TU Wien in Vienna to run design workshops to identify considerations for designing mental health technologies to be used by unaccompanied refugee and asylum seeking youth. Through the study we found that commercially available mental health apps do not account for factors within participants social ecologies and therefore are not considered to be useful by participants. Our findings call for conscious design decisions that account for and counter national policies that marginalise this population and the subsequent lived experiences of the youth navigating and accessing mental health resources.

Designing technologies for assessing early childhood speech and language development in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine

In collaboration with researchers at Newcastle University’s School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences I am working on designing digital tools to support speech and language development assessments among marginalised communities in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Identifying speech and language development challenges in early childhood will support in tackling social and educational inequalities later on in life.

Food Security

Designing technologies to improve food security among Syrian refugees in the Bekaa, Lebanon

In this project, I spent two years in a Syrian refugee settlement in rural Lebanon. During that time participants and I explored their experiences of food insecurity and their interactions with the World Food Programme’s e-voucher system. Using dialogue cards and through the co-creation of a booklet documenting their experiences we surfaced refugee experiences of adaptation, navigation and negotiation as they cope with their food insecurity. Particular to the research conducted regarding the e-voucher system, participants co-constructed narratives that highlighted tensions between their practices and communal values and the food aid technology. They also recounted experiences of power and information asymmetry mediated by the food aid technology.

Redesigning humanitarian blockchain technologies for collective purchasing & refugee food security

Working with a Syrian refugee community and shop owners in rural Lebanon we went about re-envisioning existing food aid technologies in a manner that accounts for their values, practices and aspirations for collective agency. We identified how existing blockchain technologies being used by humanitarian organisations can be leveraged to enable collective purchasing within the refugee community and in turn increase their agency when negotiating with shop owners and ultimately their food security.

Exploring the acceptability & feasibility of wearable cameras in children food environment research studies in urban Lebanon and Tunis

Obesogenic exposures in children’s environments are difficult to measure. In this project funded by the International Development Research Center of Canada, I consulted for colleagues at the American University of Beirut to explore how they may use wearable technologies to understand children’s food environment ins Lebanon and Tunis. Through a human-centered design approach we engaged with schoolchildren (aged 10–12y), parents and school staff in twelve design workshops in Beirut and Tunis. The study identified privacy and security concerns specific to the Arab context and how automated and parental screening can mitigate them.

Everyday Security

Understanding the interplay between the ‘digital’ and sense of every day security among newcomers in Sweden

In collaboration with researchers at Royal Holloway University London, we investigated the interplay between technologies and digital resettlement policies and refugees, asylum seekers and migrants sense of security within their every day lives in Sweden. We found that while mobile phones connected newcomers to their families it also amplified the pressure to always be connected. Additionally, the turn to digital resettlement processes often left newcomers in a digital void in which they struggled to remain connected with the resettlement process.

Community Resilience

Exploring the role of technologies in building refugee community resilience

Over the course of my PhD research I explored how Syrian refugees define community resilience and how technologies may be designed to support refugee community resilience. The research identified the potential for community-designed humanitarian technologies to increase refugee agency, humanitarian accountability, facilitate self-mobilisation and consequently contribute to refugee community resilience. In the research I also emphasise the need, when designing technologies for community resilience, to account for subcommunities that form within geographically defined refugee communities. My findings extend the concepts of community resilience and digital humanitarianism by envisioning refugee-community-driven technology and using Experience Centered Design as a methodology for designing with refugee communities. My research also identified the need for designing humanitarian innovations in a manner that mediate and facilitate dignified interactions.

Design in Humanitarian Contexts

Working towards Design Justice in Humanitarian Innovation

This is currently my most recent research endeavour. Design justice-oriented approaches that are configured to confront structural inequalities, recognise local knowledge and practices and, engage in meaningful participation have yet to be explored within Humanitarian Innovation.

To sustainably design socially just humanitarian innovations, I aim to collaborate with humanitarian organizations, local actors, designers, innovators and academics to explore:

1.How design approaches are shaped by and are shaping HI and humanitarian systems?

2.How can design approaches be innovated and implemented to support socially just HI?

3.How can diverse knowledge exchange be sustainably generated between HI and design research?

Developing an intersectional conceptual framework for designing technologies for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia

In collaboration with researchers in Australia, we have begun analysing data generated from design workshops with refugees and asylum seekers in Australia conducted over the span of three years using the lens of intersectionality. We identify how refugee and asylum seekers’ experiences is intersectional in nature and therefore technologies aiming at building their social capital should consider the multiple factors that influence their experiences in Australia.

Critical reflections on design in humanitarian contexts

Through out my research I have reflected on and analysed data regarding the adapting and use of several design approaches in humanitarian contexts. I have documented the value of adopting flexible and dialogical design methods in creating a safe space for both refugees and myself as a designer as well as in creating a shared understanding of each other and research. I have also collaborated with other researchers in reflecting on the challenges of conducting design and innovation research in humanitarian and post-colonial contexts.

Designing Interaction Design Methods to Engage Rural Kenyan Communities in Off the Grid Energy Sharing

As a research assistant on this EPSRC funded project I went about developing design tools that would enable a community in Rural Kenya to explore their energy sharing practices and how blockchain technologies may further enable collective energy practices.

Data science & field design methods for supporting crisis informatics in conflict zones

I am a Co-investigator on this Facebook Research funded project where we aimed at working with Syrian refugees and NGO workers to develop innovative data and design methods for understanding displacement, information flow and response in the Middle East. Through our research we investigated the different factors that need to be considered when designing digital tools for disseminating community based information as well as assessing the accuracy, value and danger of information shared through social media platforms. The research also explored gender-based dimensions of information sharing in refugee contexts.