ShelterBox continues to develop new shelter solutions to meet the needs of communities affected by disasters
Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013, was the most powerful storm ever to make landfall, claiming 6,200 lives and destroying a million homes. In the five months following the disaster, more than 100 ShelterBox Response Team members delivered 7,000 tents, 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes.
But our assistance has not stopped there. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have maintained our commitment to the Philippines and are extending the type of help we are able to offer. The ShelterBox is still at the heart of what we do, and our distinctive family relief tent remains a key part of most deployments. However, as we strive to develop into a global leader in shelter provision, we are embracing new ways of responding to the needs of communities affected by disasters.
This is critical because all disasters are different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. As ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace explains: ‘We must constantly evolve as a charity and develop our aid, because different disasters need different responses.’
We have been growing our aid offering for some time now. In the response to Typhoon Haiyan, for example, alongside tents we also distributed Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.
We are now taking this process to the next level in the Philippines. After a careful assessment process, we have entered into four project partnerships with leading international agencies including ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), Handicap International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which will lead to the construction of nearly 1,700 ‘core transitional’ shelters.
Designed to house a single family, the shelters will be constructed using locally sourced materials, wherever possible, in areas that were in the path of Typhoon Haiyan: in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon first made landfall; in northern Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban; and on the island of Bantayan, in northern Cebu. In each community, a rigorous beneficiary selection process ensures that we prioritise the most vulnerable.
This will not only provide more than 8,000 vulnerable people with a safe, durable home but will also help to train the wider community in how to ‘build back safer’ as the shelters are designed to withstand further storms. The goal is to develop resilience to future disasters.
As CEO Alison Wallace puts it: ‘How much better to rebuild in ways that will make communities more resilient to the next storms, and what better opportunity for ShelterBox to fulfill its commitment to be a real team player in meeting humanitarian shelter needs?’
ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we will continue to refine and develop the range of tools at our disposal to meet the specific shelter needs of communities affected by a disaster. And we will collaborate with an ever-increasing range of partners – from aid agencies to freight companies, and from government bodies to the UN Global Shelter Cluster that coordinates the efforts of the leading humanitarian shelter specialists.
This is all part of ShelterBox’s evolution into a flexible supplier of emergency shelter tailored to the needs of those whom we seek to help.