You should get to know Vinay Gupta and his hexayurts project.
At Mind is Moving blog, he keeps a page detailing the idea. Hexayurts have been written about in the New York Times, and were featured at Strong Angel III.
It's a quick & endemic diaster relief project that uses simple materials to make a very sturdy shelter -- no complicated international NGO bureaucrastructres required. An excellent design makes duct tape and cardboard into roomy hexagonal shelters.
What he's done, as Surgeon Captain Peter Buxton, O.B.E, put it, is make "teaching people how to use materials that are availabe for them" primary over shipping in materials and techniques from developed countries (see vlog link below). This really does empower those who are affected by disaster.
Nominate this man for a Genius Award!
Here's Vinay's vlog from Strong Angel III [link].
Some questions come to mind... I wonder about modding the hexayurt for the needs of specific environments -- for instance, how would they have fared in SE Louisiana after the hurricanes of 05, in such a wet environment?
Might these structures be cheaply chipped, so that they become spimey (trackable in space/time for recycling, usage statistics, and info on wear and tear)?
Or might they be outfitted with arphids so that a collection of structures in a community could ooze info about which families live in which yurts, etc.?
How tough/expensive a task would it be to outfit these structures with a solar panel and basic wiring?
How tough/expensive a task would it be to use the structure of the walls (the fiber itself) as part of a water filtration system, Katavolos style?
What's the max lifespan for this structure?
The hexayurt is simple, elegant, and eminently helpful.
This could be a world changer.