Last week, as news of the scale of the Typhoon was starting to become clear, the ShelterBox Operations Department approached the government of Vanuatu, other aid agencies and the humanitarian departments of the governments of Australia and New Zealand- which often take an active role in supporting disaster responses in the pacific. These parties were all informed of ShelterBox’s active interest and material capacity to provide assistance in the wake of the storm.
ShelterBox is planning to send an initial response of 1,000 IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) specification shelter kits to Vanuatu from prepositioned stocks.
ShelterBox response team members, Peter Pearce (AUS) and Ross Mackenzie (NZ), arrived in Vanuatu and met with CARE International on Wednesday to discuss our response. It is planned that CARE International will distribute the shelter kits on behalf of ShelterBox. A team from CARE international have carried out an initial assessment of the island, which suggests that there are approximately 5,000 people in need of assistance. They are reporting that they believe shelter kits and blankets to be the most appropriate form of aid for this disaster.
Ross Mackenzie said: ‘The modern buildings have mostly suffered roof damage, but all the traditional houses have been demolished. All schools and business on the island are either partially or totally destroyed.‘
CARE, who will be our implementing partner for this response, is also the lead international agency operating on the island of Tanna. The response on this island will be divided up into two areas of responsibility, with World Vision working in the north west and south areas, while CARE focuses on the north east of the island around the Yasur Volcano, White Sands and Middle Brush, where approximately 1,000 families have been affected.
Information on Shelter Kits:
ShelterBox uses the IFRC shelter kit, which consists of 2 tarpaulins, rope, handsaw, roofing nails, shovel, hoe, shears, large nails, small nails, wire and a claw hammer. They are a flexible solution; they can be combined with a variety of locally available materials such as timber, bamboo, and roofing sheets to create shelters, as well as providing the means to continue with other aspects of life.
Shelter kits are fast and simple to deploy; pre-packaged and prepositioned shelter kits can be rapidly deployed internationally and, because of their relatively small size, are easier to transport and distribute in situations when the local logistics hubs have been adversely affected.
First impressions from Ross Mackenzie, part of the ShelterBox Response Team that arrived in Vanuatu on Wednesday:
“Flying in yesterday, the view out of the window was one of total devastation – no lush, tropical trees and the damage to buildings varied from minor damage to total destruction.”