Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 12, 2006

Can Kyrgyz yurts solve Katrina housing woes?

Filed under: Business of HLS — by Christian Beckner on April 12, 2006

Evidently Dana Milbank’s new beat at the Washington Post is homeland security-related snark:

Vendors at this week’s homeland security convention have the answer for any catastrophe. They will sell you body armor, vehicle barriers, nuclear detectors, manhole-cover locks, unmanned helicopters — and Kyrgyz yurts.

yurt.jpg

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of homes, the good people of Kyrgyzstan saw a business opportunity. So the embassy rented a booth at the Washington Convention Center and got Kyrgyz officials on the program as speakers and hosts of the Homeland and Global Security Summit. This allowed the embassy to erect a yurt, the traditional nomadic tent of Central Asia, and offer it as a housing solution for the Gulf Coast.

“After Katrina, people really need some temporary houses,” explained the Kyrgyz Embassy’s Saltanat Tashmatova, at the front door of the yurt. A brochure says the 14-foot-high structure, made from sheep’s wool and “cool in summer,” sells for $10,000 — but the floor model can be had for $7,000. Any sales yet? “We just started,” Tashmatova said with a shrug.

Give it time, Kyrgyzstan: There’s enough money for everybody in the homeland security budget. The host of the convention, Equity International, boasts that “more than $150 billion” will be spent this year to thwart terrorism and respond to natural disasters. Equity International promises attendees “valuable networking opportunities” and “the right contacts” to get a piece of the action.

I was down at the Convention Center on Tuesday for another event, and saw the yurt when I peeked into this conference for a few minutes. I’m doubtful that the idea will sell, but I have to admire the gusto and entrepreneurial spirit behind it.

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2 Comments »

569

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 12, 2006 @ 1:36 am

Well I guess nomad culture has appeal for our “refugees” but OH! I meant “Evacuee’s”. I don’t reject this out of hand because after all if Chenoybl had been overlaid on New York City the area from Boston to Washington would have been off-limits under the EPA PAG’s (Protective Action Guidance) and the FDA PAG’s for agriculture in that area. Time to get to work or we may need mass-produced Yurts.

571

Comment by Joseph Coster

April 12, 2006 @ 8:58 am

I always knew that the humble sheep would be the solution to our housing problems. I really hope that the Kyrgyz haven’t spent their entire trade promotion budget on this trip. It’s a great attempt, but I’m pretty sure someone in congress would go ape if we bought wool tents from East Asia rather than real ‘merican trailers from Moline.

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