Mobile makerspace for Ukraine

The war in Ukraine poses a threat to civilian livelihoods and infrastructure. For this reason, CADUS decided to support the humanitarian efforts on the ground as part of the TOLOCAR project, a joint project of Ukrainian and international organizations that promotes infrastructure development through the use of Mobile Makerspaces (MMS).

Humanitarian mobile makerspaces are vehicles that can be equipped with machines for processing wood, metal or other materials. These are used as construction aids or equipped with high-tech devices for monitoring water, air quality or radiation. They are a proven means of providing rapidly deployable, scalable and context-adapted humanitarian aid in crisis situations.

Mobile Makerspace 2022 attic contstruction
Mobile Makerspace 2022 attic contstruction small

Mobile Makerspace 2022 fixing infrastructure: attic contstruction

While we initially aimed to provide aid through a Mobile Medical Makerspace, for example by manufacturing or repairing medical equipment and consumables using 3D printing, our needs assessment in collaboration with local partner organizations showed that there was a much greater need for accommodation and infrastructural repairs. This joint needs assessment was the result of extensive networking and was made possible by the lead partner MitOst e.V..

As the number of internally displaced persons reached almost six million shortly after the start of the war and people who had sought refuge in neighboring countries quickly returned to Ukraine, the need for housing and infrastructure was obvious. For this reason, we decided to re-evaluate the MMS inventory and staffing needs to support construction activities instead of focusing on digital manufacturing.

We equipped the Mobile Makerspace with construction tools and machines, staffed it mainly with people who have experience in the trades and construction industry or come from the “maker scene”, and crossed the border into western Ukraine on May 14, 2022. This crew consisted of an Operations Lead, a Team Lead, the Emergency Response Backoffice Team in Berlin and always at least two volunteers.

Over the next four months, we worked on five different assignments to support various local partner organizations in the western and central regions of the country. In addition to these assignments, we were able to conduct two safety & security and medical training courses to prepare our partners for working in crisis situations.

CADUS’ Mobile Makerspace provided a viable way to participate in humanitarian infrastructure efforts by sharing knowledge and supporting construction work with power tools and machinery. In this way, we have enabled local partners to realize their visions using our tools and skills. We worked with more than 250 Ukrainian residents and 9 different local organizations and were able to build a network not only of humanitarian actors, but also of Ukrainian and international civil societies.

Mobile Makerspace MMS UKR in Berlin
Mobile Makerspace MMS UKR in Berlin

Mobile Makerspace MMS UKR in Berlin

Even though the original plans were very different from what the project eventually became, it is safe to say that the CADUS Mobile Makerspace is a success and can definitely be a blueprint for future technical humanitarian interventions.

We are currently working intensively on a way to put the Mobile Makerspace back into operation.