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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Needs and needs provision: Identifying needs and gaps in service provision for urban refugees in Greece

In recent years, conflict, violence, persecution, and natural disasters have resulted in a record number of refugees. The extended length of conflict and poor needs provisioning in proximate havens has causes millions of people to flee to Europe for protection – of which Greece has become a major recipient country. This research uses Greece as a case study for examining the needs of refugees living in urban areas as they rebuild their lives and integrate.

The literature review recognised gaps, finding little written about the needs of urban refugees or the structure of the refugee system in Greece. Only ten refugee needs assessments have been performed in Greece since 2015, but most are concerned with the needs of refugees upon arrival and shortly thereafter. These assessments view needs narrowly, referring to deficiencies in services as needs rather than viewing services as a means to satisfy needs. The nine universal human needs proposed by Max-Neef are used in this study as they account for the complex and interrelated nature of needs satisfaction.

These universal human needs are used to perform a needs assessment of urban refugees living in Athens. The needs assessment is complemented by examining the type and availability of services as well as the structure of the refugee system. Methods include literature review, key informant interviews, refugee interviews, observation, and NGO reports. The purpose of this study is to understand the 1) the needs of refugees, 2) the refugee services and system in Greece, 3) any discrepancy between the two, and 4) how the services and structure of the system may be changed to better meet refugee needs and improve longterm sustainable development outcomes.

To improve the long-term outcomes of refugees, some of the main areas of focus should be the following:

• The protection and safety of refugees, through increased capacity of accommodation and safe spaces;

• Empowering refugees while reducing dependence and increasing dignity through individualism, expression of choice, education, and employment; and

• Restructuring the refugee system in Greece to include more coordination and move from humanitarian aid to a sustainable development model by prioritizing interventions that focus on the capacities of refugees and communities rather than on their deficiencies.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.