Flooding And Landslides Could Follow Nepal’s Deadly Earthquake


Aerial images of glacial lakes in Nepal

Aerial images of glacial lakes in Nepal

When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, hundreds of thousands of buildings were damaged or completely destroyed, leaving millions of people homeless in an instant. However, glacial geomorphologist Dr Stephanie Mills, explains that the earthquake and its aftershocks could have far-reaching effects, causing more problems for communities already under enormous amounts of stress.
How far did the earthquake’s tremors reach?
The tremors were felt some way away from the epicentre and as far as Everest, where many glacial lakes exist.
What are glacial lakes?
Many lakes exist in Nepal at the lower margins of glaciers and these have formed as a result of glacier retreat (when glaciers melt), and increased glacial melt water.
Glaciers melt during the summer months, when temperatures are warmer, and the melt water feeds rivers. However, many glaciers create landforms at their margins called moraines, which are large ridges made up of soil and rock. Where moraines exist, they can block the flow of water and create a dam where the water builds up. These dams can breach suddenly, leading to very large volumes of water and sediment being released down valley.
What could have happened when the earthquake occurred? How would this have affected the lakes, when they are so high up? What effect would the subsequent tremors/aftershocks have had?
The tremors could destabilise the terrain in these high mountain areas, increasing the risk of landslides and may also weaken the moraines that are damming the lakes, both of which could eventually lead to glacial outburst floods.
What could happen now that the glacial lakes have been affected?
There have been no reports of glacier outburst floods so far. However, if some of the moraine dams have been weakened, this could lead to potential problems in the future.
We’re hearing reports of flooding and landslide warnings, are these likely?
The summer monsoon season is due to begin very soon and this will increase the likelihood of more landslides due to heavy rains, steep terrain and large amount of loose debris in mountain environments. If landslides occur, they can block rivers and create temporary lakes that can then burst and lead to flooding downstream. If rock avalanches fall into the dammed lakes, this can also cause the water to rise over its dam and lead to flooding.
How far down the mountain could these floods or landslides travel? What would be the effect upon these already damaged communities?
Both the landslides and floods can travel several kilometres downstream and can damage infrastructure and communities. This could have serious consequences for those communities that have already been affected by the earthquake by causing damage to life, property and infrastructure.
Dr Stephanie Mills is a lecturer in Physical Geography at Plymouth University. Her expertise lies in using glacier modelling to reconstruct past environmental change. You can find out more about the work of the university’s Geography department here.

Rotary Supports ShelterBox’s Work In Nepal

Devastation in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital captured by Rotaractor Ashish Chaulagain

Devastation in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital captured by Rotaractor Ashish Chaulagain

Since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal on Saturday, 25 April, our Rotary connections in the country have been assisting ShelterBox with essential information and logistics.
The ShelterBox operations team was first able to get a clear idea of the level of destruction when Ashish Chaulagain, who is a member of Rotary International’s youth programme Rotaract, got in touch to explain situation in the capital of Kathmandu.
Ashish said: ‘The situation is that the environment is filled with fear. Still there is an expectation of more tremors and the weather forecast has also said to be alert.  There is much damage in Kathmandu. Emergency relief is required that is for sure.’
The speed of information helped to inform ShelterBox’s decision to send an assessment team, made up of Phil Duloy (UK) and Nicola Hinds (UK) to the city.
The team arrived yesterday afternoon and were met by local Rotarians, who were able to give them a full brief of the current situation.
Phil said: ‘We have had a huge amount of help from Rotary groups so far. They have been taking part in search and rescue teams, debris clearance and facilitating bringing aid into the city, so they have been able to give us an insight into the type of aid that is needed.’
ShelterBox is sending an initial 500 shelter kits to Kathmandu to help provide shelter to the thousands of people who have been sleeping on the streets, despite the plummeting temperatures and thunderstorms. The shelter kits can be used in a variety of ways to help repair structures and create temporary shelters.
Local Rotarians will be further assisting ShelterBox by acting as consignee for the shelter kits, helping to import the aid into the country and take responsibility for it as it goes through customs.
The global network of Rotary clubs has been important to ShelterBox since it was formed in 2000. It was first adopted as the millennium project of the local Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard and in 2012 became Rotary International’s first project partner.
As our response in Nepal demonstrates, the partnership offers opportunities to collaborate and combine resources with Rotary clubs around the world to quickly provide emergency shelter for people affected by disasters and humanitarian crises.
You can help our relief efforts in Nepal by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

Video: Flash Floods And Broken Bridges Create Extra Challenges In Malawi

ShelterBox response team members are helped to transport ShelterBoxes over a large river in Malawi by boat, rather than risk the fragile bridge. (ShelterBox/Rebecca Swist)

ShelterBox response team members are helped to transport ShelterBoxes over a large river in Malawi by boat, rather than risk the fragile bridge. (ShelterBox/Rebecca Swist)

As the rain continues to fall and the floodwaters keep rising in Southern Malawi, ShelterBox response teams have been working hard to deliver vital aid to communities that have lost their homes, despite various challenges.
Since mid-January, Malawi has been facing some of the worst flooding in 40 years, which has left more than 230,000 people without homes and destroyed countless farms and livelihoods.
Response volunteer Liz Odell is part of a team working in the Malawian district of Zomba, where they’ve faced several challenges reaching remote communities near Lake Chilwa.
In this video, she describes how flash flooding, impassible roads and washed-away bridges mean that the teams have had to find alternative methods to transport ShelterBoxes to families in need of shelter.

Despite such difficulties, the teams are continuing to provide aid in Zomba and Chikwawa – another heavily flooded district. So far, we have been able to deliver ShelterBoxes to almost 400 families.
In addition to our specifically designed tents, the boxes also contain mosquito nets and water purification units that will help to prevent diseases such as malaria and cholera, which thrive in areas affected by flooding.

Rotary and ShelterBox, A Year Of Collaboration

image of ShelterBox tent with rotary logo on


The global support from the Rotary network is the cornerstone that ShelterBox is built upon. Rotary has been instrumental in our growth and Rotarians are the cement that binds us together. Since we were founded, we grew from one club’s adopted project to the largest global Rotary club project in the 100-year history of the organisation. In 2014, both Rotary and ShelterBox have built upon this partnership, lending support to one another strategically, in terms of fundraising and awareness and with Rotarians lending operational support in many of our disaster responses.
In 2012, ShelterBox became Rotary International’s first project partner. This agreement offers opportunities to collaborate and combine resources to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters and humanitarian crises.
The fundraising efforts by Rotarians make up a significant proportion of donations received by ShelterBox. Alongside this, Rotary Clubs provide invaluable logistical support during our disaster zone responses.
Rotarians will often be the people who ensure our aid can be delivered into a country by acting as consignees and taking responsibility for a delivery. These essential acts mean we can deliver aid to people in need as quickly as possible. More often than not, it will be Rotarians who are the first point of contact for our response team volunteers when they arrive in a country that has been devastated by a disaster. They provide everything from logistical support, translators and local knowledge, to a bed to sleep in.
This slideshow celebrating International Rotary Day 2014 highlights how Rotarians have volunteered for ShelterBox in response to the Syria crisis, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and flooding in Niger throughout 2013 and early 2014.
The global Rotary network has been key in our international growth. At present, all of our affiliates have been set up by Rotarians or Rotaracters and the growth has been phenomenal.
Operational support
In May of 2014, local Rotarians leant much-needed support to help shelter flood-stricken families in isolated areas of Serbia. The region had suffered what many were calling the worst flooding in the Balkans in decades. Response team volunteer Giles Walker produced this short film, in which we hear from local Rotarian Svetislav Goncic who was invaluable in assisting ShelterBox throughout the response in the region.

In a year which has seen ShelterBox respond to 25 disasters around the world we’d like to extend a huge thanks to the global Rotary community without the support of which we could not continue our work to help families in need following disasters.

ShelterBox On Standby As Typhoon Hagupit Sets A Course For The Philippines

Image by NRL Marine Meterology Division [Public domain]

Image by NRL Marine Meterology Division [Public domain]

Little more than a year after Typhoon Haiyan caused devastation across the Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit is on course to reach the country at the end of the week.
The tropical storm, which has now been reclassified as a super typhoon, is intensifying as it travels across water and is expected to reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour by the time it makes landfall.
Officials are predicting that Hagupit could follow the same trajectory as Haiyan, which could affect people that are still living in tents and temporary shelters following last year’s typhoon.
ShelterBox’s in-country team is liaising with the operations team in the UK to monitor the severity of the typhoon and decide whether a response will be needed. If so, the team will be able to distribute supplies, including ShelterBoxes and tarpaulins, that have been prepositioned at Clark International Airport in the Philippines.
ShelterBox has continued working in the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan first hit in November 2013.
In the first few months of 2014, we had sent more than 100 response volunteers to deliver aid to communities devastated by Haiyan and our commitment to people in the Philippines has continued throughout the year with the launch of four projects to deliver ‘core transitional’ shelters – resilient temporary structures that allow people to move on from living in emergency shelter.
Read more about ShelterBox’s continuing work in the Philippines to help people rebuild their homes and their lives.

ShelterBox Community United For BSW 2013

Cakes baked for the Big Cake Bake at Genki, one of the 19 cafes in the UK that participated during BSW, June 2013.

Cakes baked for the Big Cake Bake at Genki, one of the 19 cafes in the UK that participated during BSW, June 2013.


The ShelterBox community once again united across the globe to generously give their time to raise awareness and funds during Big ShelterBox Week 2013, helping families made homeless by disasters.
ShelterBox affiliates and supporters in Canada, Switzerland, USA, UK and New Zealand were involved in an assortment of fun events including cake bakes, camp outs, social media challenges, online campaigns and collections.
ShelterBox Canada ran a ‘like’ campaign through their Facebook page that brought in 1,000 new followers.
‘We focussed on raising awareness during the week,’ said ShelterBox Canada Fundraising and Administrative Coordinator Stephanie Near. ‘Starting with only 400 followers we are pretty excited about this expansion in our social media audience.’
Similarly ShelterBox USA kept it simple by using their social media channels to engage its audiences to help reach its goal of raising US$50,000 for the week.
‘Doubling impact’
‘We created a #WeAreShelterBox campaign that encouraged our global followers to share online how and why they support us,’ said ShelterBox USA  Director of Communications Tiffany Stephenson. ‘We also launched a surprise matching Facebook challenge with Lumber Liquidators, which matched US$10,000 in donations doubling our donors impact.’
Other events included one group of teenagers from Rotary District 5870 sleeping in tents to raise awareness of ShelterBox; Theresa Mohan, a ShelterBox USA board member, also slept in a tent raising over US$2,600.
‘We raised more than our goal of US$50,000!’ added ShelterBox USA President Emily Sperling. ‘We enjoyed celebrating our supporters during BSW 2013. The week serves as a reminder of why we collaborate with our volunteers and supporters year-round—together, we can have a massive impact on the lives of families displaced by natural and other disasters around the world.’
Meanwhile in the UK, it was all about baking tasty treats in the South West and holding collection points across the London Underground.
Big Cake Bake
Nineteen cafes took part in the Big Cake Bake while enthusiastic volunteers manned city centre collection points in London, Plymouth and Truro, enabling the ShelterBox brand to be seen by thousands of commuters and shoppers in addition to raising nearly £2,000.
‘For the UK, Big ShelterBox Week was all about raising awareness of our work in a fun, easy and engaging way,’ said ShelterBox UK Events Coordinator. ‘The enthusiasm of the local businesses supporting our Big Cake Bake in the South West was just fantastic, and it was great fun to see and taste the delicious creations of the cafes. Our new logo-cake toppers were a big hit too!
‘It was also fantastic to have a presence in the city centres with our collections – the opportunity to talk to new people about who we are and what we do is always welcomed and we already know we have a number of new supporters as a result.’
Image of children with alpacas in front of ShelterBox display at the Alstonville Public School 'Groovy Green Fair' for BSW

ShelterBox display at the Alstonville Public School ‘Groovy Green Fair’ for BSW

BSW here in Australia was a more low key affair and yet we still managed to bring in over $10,000 in donations. We are looking at moving our Big ShelterBox Week to a more suitable date. We are always open to new fundraising ideas …… how about a Big ShelterBox BBQ? Please write in with your ideas to mike.greenslade@shlelterbox.org.au
Thank you
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone that supported our efforts for Big ShelterBox Week 2013 – your passion and drive has made a difference to families affected by disasters.
You can still make a donation here: PLEASE DONATE


ShelterBox Sends Much-Needed Aid into Syria

ShelterBox aid being loaded onto truck at its headquarters in Cornwall, UK, before heading to Syria via Turkey, April 2013.

ShelterBox aid being loaded onto truck at its headquarters in Cornwall, UK, before heading to Syria via Turkey, April 2013.


After 18 months helping on the borders of Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, ShelterBox has now found another way of getting aid into Syria itself via Turkey to help families displaced by the ongoing conflict. 

The ShelterBox Operations team has been studying the Hatay and Kilis regions between Turkey and northern Syria, and talking to humanitarian partners in the area. They believe they have now found a route that will get vital equipment across the borders into Syria to families in need.

According to the Humanitarian Information Unit an estimated 3.6 million people in Syria have been forced from their homes, but are still within the country’s borders. They are living in fear and desperately in need of basic aid.

United Nations envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said: ‘Yes, this situation appears to be totally hopeless, with no light to be seen at the end of a long tunnel Syria is lost in… Almost 50 percent of the Syrian population are being gravely affected by the conflict. I wonder if this is not a depressing record in the history of conflict.’

While the distribution of ShelterBoxes in Lebanon and Jordan continues, the charity has now made a strategic decision to send ‘non shelter items’ into Syria – including water purification equipment, water carriers, insect nets, solar lamps, kitchen sets and SchoolBoxes containing children’s packs and activities. There are fears that tents supplied in the familiar green ShelterBoxes may draw attention, making displaced families a target for snipers or looters. So difficult choices have had to be made about which lifesaving items can safely be distributed without endangering the recipients.

Aid leaves today 

The first truckload of aid leaves the charity’s headquarters in Cornwall, UK, today to begin its 3,000 mile journey and is expected to reach the Syrian border in around 10 days. If successful, this new aid ‘pipeline’ will see final distribution within Syria by implementing partner Hand in Hand for Syria.

Read more here: TURKEY

You can donate here: PLEASE DONATE

World Water Day 2013: Cooperation

Field workers from Blue Ventures being trained to use the LifeStraws, Madagascar, March 2013. Credit: Blue Ventures.

Field workers from Blue Ventures being trained to use the LifeStraws, Madagascar, March 2013. Credit: Blue Ventures.


Every year, World Water Day is held on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. 

World Water Day annually highlights a specific aspect of freshwater, this year being the UN International Year of Water Cooperation. It is important to recognise that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace.

As part of ShelterBox‘s response to Cyclone Haruna in Madagascar, the disaster relief charity has partnered with Blue Ventures, a charity and social enterprise that works with some of the word’s poorest coastal communities to conserve threatened marine environments, both protecting biodiversity and alleviating poverty, to bring clean water to the disaster-affected communities.

‘The areas where we have been distributing emergency shelter to cyclone survivors have a good water source so the water filters in the ShelterBoxes have not been needed,’ said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Peter Pearce (AU). ‘However, we heard that there were other villages that have been struggling to access clean water with contaminated water sources. So we got in touch with Blue Ventures, who has had a permanent base here since 2003.’


A Family LifeStraw goes into every ShelterBox packed at the charity’s headquarters in Cornwall, UK. Each one filters up to ten litres of water per hour and has a lifespan of around 18,000 litres.

‘ShelterBox has provided us with 200 Family LifeStraws to be distributed in the isolated commune of Befandefa, some 200 kilometres north of Toliara, right where Cyclone Haruna hit on 22 February,’ added Laura Robson, Blue Ventures Community Health Programme Coordinator.


Read more here: WATER