How we work
See how we work with disaster-affected communities to help families rebuild their lives
At ShelterBox, we constantly seek to learn and develop. We analyse how we can do even more to help communities after disasters. We push ourselves to deliver even greater impact with every penny donated.
As part of that process, we can provide a small amount of cash to families, alongside essential shelter materials and training, when the conditions are right. It complements the support we already provide, because there are times when adding cash to the mix helps communities recover better.
Our work is based on listening to communities – and that includes providing cash. In the aftermath of a disaster or conflict, we always start by asking people what will make the biggest difference to their lives.
Tents, tarpaulins and tools are at the heart of our disaster responses. But when it’s clear providing cash alongside shelter essentials will have an even bigger impact on people’s lives, that’s what we’ll do.
We only provide cash when the local conditions are right.
That means we check there are materials and services available to buy locally and that the businesses that sell them are still operating. And it means we check that money can be transferred safely and easily where we’re working.
How we provide cash depends on local conditions.
We might distribute money directly to families who have lost their homes. We might build links with financial companies that can provide a money transfer service to the people we support. Or, if mobile phones are widely used, we might transfer cash directly using mobile wallet apps.
In every situation, we consider all the options and do what’s easiest and safest for families.
We’ll always be clear that cash needs to be used for shelter.
That means we’ll only provide cash when it’s clear it’s the best way for people to recover – if they need building materials not in our shelter kits, for example.
We’ll check in with families afterwards to make sure they’ve been able to buy what they needed. And, as with everything we do, we’ll keep evaluating the impact of providing cash to make sure it’s making the biggest possible difference.
It’s increasingly common for organisations like ours to provide cash as part of our work.
We’ve learned from our own trials and from successful projects and best practice around the world, so we know it works.
Just like you, we’re here to make lives better after a disaster – and that’s why we’re now adding this approach to our work.
Ultimately, we’re starting to provide cash because it can help communities rebuild better. It won’t be the right approach after every disaster or conflict. We’ll only do it when we know the local conditions are right. But when it’s clearly going to help families and communities rebuild better, we won’t hesitate.