* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
It’s just another Tuesday morning in a quiet corner of an industrial estate in Cornwall, but for the Operations team of ShelterBox it will be a busy day; monitoring disasters and enabling the disaster relief charity to be in a position to respond rapidly, effectively and efficiently when disaster does strike.
The United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year and its not just earthquakes that need the attention of the Operations team. Since ShelterBox began in 2000, we have responded to earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, typhoons and conflict, delivering emergency humanitarian aid to communities in need.
ShelterBox currently has Response teams operating in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, nearly six months on since the Typhoon first struck, and in the Masvingo Province of Zimbabwe in response to flash flooding. Distribution of aid also continues for the charity in Syria through implementing partners. Logistical pipelines in this region are constantly changing and our Operations team is working to deliver an agile response, which means we are able to adapt to the changing situation and ensure aid gets to the families who need it the most.
Our vision at ShelterBox is a world in which all people displaced by disasters and humanitarian crises are rapidly provided with emergency shelter and vital aid, which will help rebuild their communities and lives. To help us try to achieve this we aim to rapidly provide emergency shelter and vital aid to stabilise, protect and support communities overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis. What underpins these aims though is our organisational values which are intrinsic across all of our work from fundraising right through to the delivery of aid: Respect, honesty and integrity, accountability and resourcefulness while always acting in the best interest of our beneficiaries.
Flooding in Afghanistan
Flash floods in northern Afghanistan have forced hundreds of people from their homes in Sari Pul, Zawzjan, Faryab and Badghis provinces. The Operations team are currently liaising with other aid agencies active in the region to see if we are able to help aid families affected by the flooding.
Wildfire in Chile
In Chile, more than 10,000 people were evacuated from the port city of Valparaiso following a fire earlier this month. We are currently monitoring the situation and, through one of our Chilean SRT members, are in contact with the local government who are coordinating the response.
Earthquakes and flooding in the Solomon Islands
Two earthquakes struck the Solomon Islands on the 12 and 13 April after flooding also hit the region earlier the same week. Similarly to the aid effort in Chile, the local government is coordinating the disaster response in the Solomon Islands. ShelterBox are in discussions with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to see how best we could assist in the recovery process.
Collaboration in disaster response
This sort of collaboration in disaster response is becoming more and more common in our work not just with aid agencies and government bodies but also with logistics companies and airlines. They regularly offer cheap, sometimes free, freight as well as flights for our response teams, allowing for more of our donors’ money to be spent in other vitally needed areas. We work closely with the Global Shelter Cluster, a coordinating body made up of the leading humanitarian aid agencies who specialise in shelter. It aims to reinforce preparedness and technical capabilities to respond to humanitarian crises through coordination at regional, national and global levels.
In 2013 ShelterBox responded to 34 disasters in 18 different countries helping over 10,000 families. Since inception, ShelterBox has responded to nearly 240 disasters in almost 90 different countries distributing over 135,000 boxes and helping well over one million people.
To support our ongoing disaster relief work and to enable us to assist as many families in need as possible please make a donation.