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Monday 18 June 2012

Disaster preparedness at ShelterBox
Disaster preparedness at ShelterBox ShelterBox responded to a cyclone that hit Madagascar in February 2012. Madagascar is a difficult country to transport humanitarian aid to so ShelterBoxes are now prepositioned there, enabling a quicker response from ShelterBox in the future.

ShelterBox prides itself in its rapid delivery of emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families in need after a disaster strikes. However to do this, the international disaster relief charity must be prepared.

Nobody can predict when or where the next disaster will hit. Disaster preparedness boosts ShelterBox's capacity to respond more efficiently and quickly to disasters when they happen around the world.

'A ShelterBox does not just get sent out immediately when a disaster happens, it's not that easy,' said ShelterBox Operations Manager Alf Evans. 'A lot of groundwork has to happen for a deployment to run smoothly and efficiently for emergency shelter to reach families made homeless by disaster.'

Map of locations where ShelterBoxes are currently prepositioned.

That is exactly what the ShelterBox Operations team do. There could be no active deployments but each member will still be busy with research, including building partnerships with other aid agencies, developing relationships with local authorities in other countries, and investigating locations for prepositioning stock. Without this groundwork, ShelterBox would not be able to deliver humanitarian aid as quickly and successfully as it does, bringing shelter, warmth and dignity to displaced families when they need it the most.


'There are currently 9,061 ShelterBoxes prepositioned across 18 different countries, enabling us to respond immediately to a disaster,' said Alf. 'It's so much quicker to have boxes in the country where the disaster has happened or the country next door as opposed to sending them from headquarters in UK.'

Arrival of ShelterBoxes at Haiti, January 2010.

It is not just the distance that allows ShelterBox to respond to disasters more efficiently. It is also space. By prepositioning ShelterBoxes around the world, more space becomes available at the warehouse at headquarters where the boxes are packed. Therefore as pre-positioned boxes are used, volunteers can be packing more boxes at headquarters, increasing ShelterBox's capacity to respond to disasters.

This is what happened during ShelterBox's response to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, causing an estimated 230,000 people to lose their lives and making a further 1.5 million homeless.

ShelterBoxes coming off the plane at Haiti, January 2010.

Respond immediately

ShelterBox was able to respond immediately by using prepositioned boxes from around the world. They were put to immediate use as large-scale distribution began with 7,000 ShelterBoxes delivered to the most affected areas in the first month. At the same time, volunteers were packing more boxes at headquarters to be sent.

Volunteers packing ShelterBoxes at headquarters to be prepositioned in Pakistan.

Over 28,000 ShelterBoxes in total were sent to the Caribbean country; more than the charity has ever sent out before in one year let alone to one country. This is a good example of how quickly and efficiently ShelterBox works when responding to a disaster, even to a disaster of this scale, thanks to disaster preparedness.

'We have also just secured a 405 hanger at Newquay (Cornwall, UK) airport that will be able to store 6,000 boxes and 10,000 tents,' said ShelterBox's Warehouse and Logistics Manager Shane Revill. 'And we have also become part of the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) network, which will enable us to store our aid in their warehouses across five continents.'

ShelterBox tents set up at a camp in Haiti, January 2010.

Your help

ShelterBox's goal is to provide emergency shelter for 50,000 families every year. Without disaster preparedness, ShelterBox would not be able to achieve this, and without your help, disaster preparedness would not be possible. You can help ShelterBox prepare and make a difference to families who have lost everything in a disaster in advance, by donating to the ShelterBox Disaster Fund that gives the charity the funds to prepare for disasters.
Please donate now
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