When disaster strikes and humanitarian assistance is needed, a rapid, low cost response often is critical. As VOA's Paul Sisco tells us in today's Searching for Solutions report, a voluntary research and supply effort aims to do just that.

In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, low cost communication stations and simple satellite transmitters can help bring much needed assistance.  A coalition called TIDES facilitates that kind of emergency relief and more.

Lin Wells is a TIDES representative. He says, "TIDES stands for Transportable Infrastructures for Development and Emergency Support. When you think about infrastructure here in a developed country, we turn a light switch, and we get power. We have power. We have water. We have sewer. We have transportation. In large parts of the third world you don't have that."

Whether it is populations made homeless by natural disaster, political refugees, or war victims separated from their normal lives, basic forms of support become critical.

"We are looking for low cost sustainable solutions for these stressed populations," said Wells.

The U.S. Defense Department recently hosted an event to display low cost emergency equipment for those stressed populations.

Wells says, "We have seven different kinds of infrastructures. We are looking at shelter, water, power, cooking; heating, lighting, cooling is one; a little sanitation and a lot of information and communication technologies."

Rotary Club International is a TIDES member and has provided thousands of shelter boxes packed with equipment for victims of natural and manmade disasters.

A company called SkyBuilt Power builds easily shipped solar and wind power stations.

Pat McArdle spent time in Northern Afghanistan before retiring from the U.S. State Department. She now promotes simple, solar cookers for those in need. She says, "In this one camp, the women have made 10,000 of these, and then they have also been taught how to make rocket stoves out of tin cans, and they have cut their fuel use by 80-90 percent with this simple, simple technology."

TIDES is a growing partnership of small and large groups with one goal -- to help people live above subsistence levels following disaster.

Wells says he hopes events like this will convince more organizations, communities and governments to buy and provide simple relief and emergency equipment sooner rather than later.