Typhoon Haiyan Remembered – Partnerships & Innovation

Typhoon Haiyan RememberedWhen Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines almost a year ago, experts called it ‘a true one hundred year event.’ As other charities and the world’s media descended upon Tacloban, ShelterBox concentrated its efforts upon trying to reach the more remote islands, assisting families whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the storm and for whom there seemed little hope of help. 

As has been the case in the past, offers of assistance for logistics began to trickle in to ShelterBox’s operation team and before long the offer of freight from Dubai to the Philippines was made to the team. Upon consultation and examination of the situation, ShelterBox’s logistics experts decided that sending tents would be the more effective first response aid, which was then followed by ShelterBoxes and other aid items. Several teams were deployed at once and soon ShelterBox had established a vast network of response teams operating across several islands working to get aid to families as fast as was possible under the challenging conditions.

As the momentum of ShelterBox’s response grew, and as a result of our donors overwhelming support, we took great pride in reporting stories of beneficiaries moving into ShelterBox tents. However it quickly became clear to us that a longer-term commitment was needed to fully accomplish what donors had entrusted us to achieve.

After around three months the need for tents for emergency shelter in the region was diminishing, but there remained a need for humanitarian assistance for these communities left still reeling from the devastation of the disaster.

Families move into their new homes in the Philippines Photo: Toby Ash/ShelterBox.

Families move into their new homes in the Philippines Photo: Toby Ash/ShelterBox.

 

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 these communities. 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. And so it was that alongside tents, ShelterBox response teams also began to distribute Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.

Working in collaboration 

ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we began to investigate opportunities to collaborate with partners in the Philippines who could help us continue our commitment to helping families affected by Haiyan, several months after the Typhoon had first struck.

After a careful assessment process, we 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 are being 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 has ensured 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 overall goal being to develop resilience in the region to future disasters.

‘How could we turn our backs when there is so much still to do to help these families rebuild their lives and their homes?’ said ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace. ‘Our generous donors have given ShelterBox the resources and the mandate to continue, so we are responding by adapting the practical help we offer.’

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan we thank everyone who donated to our appeal and our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster.

More ShelterBox Tents For Displaced Families In Kurdistan

Northern Iraq. November 2012. ShelterBox has been actively heping families in this region for more than two years now (Matt Roberts/ShelterBox).

Northern Iraq. November 2012. ShelterBox has been actively heping families in this region for more than two years now (Matt Roberts/ShelterBox).

As air strikes against Islamic State militants keep the conflict in Syria and Iraq in the headlines, distribution of ShelterBox tents continues in Iraqi Kurdistan, to which more than 800,000 displaced people have fled. 

Few of us will have forgotten the terrible images from last August of the plight of 40,000 people from Iraq’s minority Yazidi community trapped on Mount Sinjar after being driven from their homes by Islamic State fighters. Those that managed to escape sought refuge in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in the north east of the country.

The KRI is now sheltering more than half of the 1.7 million internally displaced Iraqis and Syrian Kurds who have been forced from their homes by the regional conflict. That’s around 145,000 families looking to the KRI government and international aid agencies for help.

Many families are staying in unfinished buildings, or in mosques, churches and schools. The latter is particularly problematic since, with the start of the new academic year in mid September, people sheltering in educational establishments have had to be relocated.

Responding to this need, around 540 ShelterBox tents have been distributed in the last two weeks, the majority near Dohuk in the northern part of the KRI, which has the largest concentration of displaced persons. A further 1,388 tents are awaiting distribution, some of which will also be going into the north of the country while others are destined for central and eastern areas of Kurdistan.

This is a complex and difficult situation. ShelterBox operations coordinator, Malcolm Shead commented:

‘We’re not sure exactly when the remaining distributions will take place. It’s a slow process as we have to resolve issues around land ownership, sanitation and hygiene and camp management.’

However, ShelterBox is working with partners to reach the families in need. For example, we are cooperating closely with French aid agency ACTED, which is well-established in Kurdistan. We have also supplied a number of tents to medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres for use as mobile clinics.

ShelterBox has been active in Kurdistan for more than two years now. With no end in sight to the chaos in Syria and Iraq, we remain committed to doing all we can to provide shelter for those displaced by the conflict.

You can help here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterBox Tents Await Iraqi Families Fleeing Sinjar Mountain

IRAQI KURDISTAN. SEPTEMBER 2013. ShelterBox has previously assisted families in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

IRAQI KURDISTAN. SEPTEMBER 2013. ShelterBox has previously assisted families in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Simon Clarke/ShelterBox)

As the United Nations (UN) declares a ‘Level 3 Emergency’ for Iraq, ShelterBox partners with both the UN and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) to attempt to deliver vital shelter to families previously stranded on Sinjar Mountain. 

Thousands of people, mostly religious minorities, were left stranded atop Sinjar Mountain after being driven from their homes by the advance of Islamic State militants in the region. The rapid advance of militant fighters has thrown Iraq into crisis and has now led to overseas involvement in the form of aid interventions. The UN estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have now been internally displaced by the crisis. ShelterBox has a wealth of experience in humanitarian responses in the region having been responding to the Syria crisis since early 2012.

The UN has issued a statement explaining ‘Given the scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe, this measure [declaring a Level 3 Emergency] will facilitate mobilization of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements.’

The severity of this crisis is not to be overlooked, today’s UN statement goes on to clarify that a Level 3 Emergency ‘represents the highest level of humanitarian crisis’.

In a week that has seen both the UK and US completing aid drops of food and water into the region, the latest announcement from the UN comes amidst growing concerns for what lies ahead for the families stranded atop Sinjar Mountain. Concern is also mounting for those families who have, in recent nights, fled the mountain under the cover of darkness and are now in search of shelter.

ShelterBox currently has prepositioned stock in Iraq and will be working with UNHCR and ACTED to move 500 UN specification tents to Duhok, near the border with Syria, to be used to establish a camp to provide shelter for internally displaced people (IDP’s) such as those fleeing Sinjar Mountain.

Although daytime temperatures in the region are currently high the ShelterBox Operations team are currently making provisions to supplement the current stock of shelter in Iraq with winterisation kits. This is more of a precautionary measure should the need for shelter sadly extend into the colder winter months.

You can help by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterBox Prepares for Cyclone Mahasen

Satellite image of Cyclone Mahasen, NASA's Earth Data.

Satellite image of Cyclone Mahasen, NASA’s Earth Data.

 

ShelterBox has been monitoring the path of Cyclone Mahasen this week as it makes its way to Bangladesh and Myanmar across the Bay of Bengal, threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. 

Based at the disaster relief charity’s headquarters in the South West of England, ShelterBox’s Operations Department has been preparing to provide emergency shelter and other lifesaving supplies to affected communities.

The cyclone is expected to make landfall somewhere between Bangladesh’s Chittagong and Myanmar’s Maungdaw.

‘Although our partners in Myanmar, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), have said that the cyclone has weakened to a category one tropical storm, it still has the potential for frightening consequences for many people,’ said Operations Coordinator Dr Alison Ashlin.

‘There could be a storm surge of eight feet in Northern Rakhine in Myanmar, where 140,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in makeshift shelters and tents. Maximum winds are predicted at 97 kilometres per hour, this could cause damage to camps. Additionally, rains and thundershowers are also expected to be widespread which might lead to local mudslides, landslides and flooding.’

Even though evacuation plans are underway in both countries led by their governments, humanitarian organisations in the region continue to prepare for an emergency response to the disaster that still could affect many communities.

‘Help families’ 

‘We have good communications with our partners in both countries and are receiving regular updates on the situation,’ added Alison, also a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member who was recently in Myanmar working with ACTED to bring shelter to IDPs displaced by ongoing conflict.

‘SRTs are being mobilised and are on standby and we are also looking into flights and visas. Moreover the logistics team is looking at the quickest way of sending ShelterBox aid to both countries, be it from prepositioned stock in Dubai or elsewhere, or from our headquarters. We have to be proactive in order to help families in need as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible.’

Families Forced From Homes in Myanmar

A mother and child who have been forced from their home and now stay at one of the Internally Displaced Person camps in Myanmar, March 2013.

A mother and child who have been forced from their home and now stay at one of the Internally Displaced Person camps in Myanmar, March 2013.

 

When the gunmen attacked the village where Sitnoupan’s parents lived, her mother was only five months pregnant with her. Their home was burnt to the ground and their animals were slaughtered. Forced to leave, they took very few possessions with them and fled to the jungle where they hid for months. Without even access to plastic sheeting, they made rudimentary shelters of banana leaves and foraged for food. On hearing about a camp in Myitkyina, a city in northern Myanmar, they walked for days with other families from other villages. However, on the outskirts of the town they were stopped by the military and sent back to the jungle. Two days later they tried again, this time under the cover of darkness. They successfully arrived at the camp in December 2012. Sitnoupan was born the following month. 

Dr Alison Ashlin (UK), ShelterBox Operations Coordinator and Response Team (SRT) member, said: ‘We met Sitnoupan’s family last weekend where they were living in a communal shelter, with no privacy along with 16 other families. Lying on a mat, the mother was suffering from a fever, whilst the father was caring for the two-month-old baby. It is shocking to think that these are the lucky ones, because there are many more families still hiding in the jungle, and the rainy season is just a month away.’

Two-month-old Sitnoupan who was born in a communal shelter, Myanmar, March 2013.

Two-month-old Sitnoupan who was born in a communal shelter, Myanmar, March 2013.

 

‘A consignment of ShelterBoxes has arrived in country,’ added SRT member Sallie Buck (UK). ‘We have had extensive consultations with humanitarian actors in Yangon, bilateral meetings with the United Nations in Myitkyina, and detailed needs assessments conducted by field officers from the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) in Kachin, to ensure this aid will reach other vulnerable families.’

The Kachin conflict in the north-east has displaced tens of thousands of people and is one of many collectively referred to as the Burmese Civil War. Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and Myanmar Army restarted in June 2011 after a 17-year-old ceasefire broke down and continued throughout last year.

 

ShelterBox Responds to Conflict in Myanmar

SRT member Sallie Buck with Colombia’s first lady, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez. Colombia 2011.

SRT member Sallie Buck with Colombia’s first lady, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez. Colombia 2011.

 

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) consisting of Sallie Buck (UK) and Alison Ashlin (UK) is traveling to Myanmar to meet with the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) to find a suitable way to support families displaced by the Kachin conflict in the north of the country. 

The conflict is one of many collectively referred to as the Burmese Civil War. Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and Myanmar Army restarted in June 2011 after a 17-year-old ceasefire broke down and continued throughout last year.

‘We have been monitoring the deteriorating situation in Myanmar over the past few months and have seen the violence escalate and displacement increase,’ said ShelterBox Operations Coordinator and Response Team member Alison Ashlin (UK)

Alison Ashlin in Congo, April 2012.

Alison Ashlin in Congo, April 2012.

 

Meeting with ACTED who already have an office in country will enable us to establish a clear need for ShelterBoxes and look at possible distribution plans. If our aid is appropriate for the area, we will transport boxes prepositioned in Singapore to allow for a rapid response.’

Dire need 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between ACTED and ShelterBox, both agreeing to work together to help, where possible, respond to the dire need of the displaced families, who have been suffering since the outbreak of the conflict over one and a half years ago.

Please DONATE

 

Families Call ShelterBox Tents ‘Home’ in Niger

Thankful children in Niger/Photograph by David Hatcher.

Thankful children in Niger/Photograph by David Hatcher.

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is currently working to deliver vital lifesaving equipment to families in need in Niamey, Niger. 

David Hatcher (UK) and Joanna Reid (UK) arrived in the African country on Monday 15 October following widespread flooding, the extent of which has left damage across all of Niger’s eight regions. The flood damage has only compounded the already overstretched resources of the country, which has received an influx of displaced families from neighbouring Mali where political instability and conflict continues.

Upon arrival the team quickly set to work to begin distribution of 497 ShelterBoxes that were pre-positioned in country with Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED).

It has been as a result of collaborative working that the ShelterBox Response Team has been able to help families find shelter in disaster relief tents. On Wednesday 17 October the team worked with the Fire Service to erect tents at the Abadan Goungou camp.

‘The site chief of Abadan Goungou was really pleased with the efforts today but most importantly we were able to help 39 families begin to rebuild their lives.

‘It’s been great to work with the Fire Service Team as well as workers from neighboring camps. It’s truly been a communal effort with people of all ages working together to get families moved under cover and into the ShelterBox tents’ said David Hatcher.

Read more here: NIGER

ShelterBox Returns to Help Families in Niger

ShelterBox worked with Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International to set up this camp in Kollo District for families made homeless by recent flooding, Niger, September 2012.

ShelterBox worked with Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International to set up this camp in Kollo District for families made homeless by recent flooding, Niger, September 2012.

Extensive flooding in Niger has caused significant damage and displacement across all of the African country’s eight regions, including the largest of Tillabery, Dosso and Niamey, said top official Aghaly Abdoulkader, the director of the cabinet.

Over the past few months, heavy rains have damaged infrastructure, fields, rice paddies and water points destroying large quantities of food and washing away many cattle.

Furthermore, there are displaced Malian families who have been forced to flee their homes into Niger due to political instability and ongoing conflict in their country.

Flooding in Niger, October 2012.

Flooding in Niger, October 2012.

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has arrived in Niamey to continue the disaster relief charity’s response to both disasters by finding suitable solutions to distribute shelter already in country with various aid agencies, including Femmes France-Niger, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). 

‘Yesterday we had meetings all day with organisers of response to both issues,’ said SRT member David Hatcher (UK). ‘Today we have plans to recce some sites with Femmes France-Niger where flood survivors can be possibly relocated, and to talk to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) about how we may be able to support them with the Mali refugee crisis.’

‘Kidnapping’ 

Joanna Reid (UK) is the SRT member accompanying David: ‘As far as challenges are concerned, there are a few. The kidnapping of six aid workers in country last night is on our minds; providing the displaced families the help they need; and identifying local partners who can help with constructing the tents. Also we have to be aware of the local policies about the provision of tents that differ from region to region when looking at distribution options.’

‘What started out as a challenging day, not helped by all of my kit going missing during the flight here, has ultimately proved to be very positive,’ said David. ‘Though the heat is proving to be a bit of a challenge with the temperature forecasted to be well over 100°F (38°C) every day this week.’

ShelterBox in Sahel: Working Partnerships in Niger and Mali

Representatives from various aid agencies that ShelterBox has been working with on deployment in Niger at a tent demonstration class led by the Response Team, September, 2012.

Representatives from various aid agencies that ShelterBox has been working with on deployment in Niger at a tent demonstration class led by the Response Team, September, 2012.

 

Various aid agencies working with ShelterBox in Niger in its response to the recent flooding, food insecurity and conflict have been undertaking tent training led by one of the disaster relief charity’s Response Teams. 

Representatives from Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), Red Cross, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), as well as the Niger Civil Protection and Fire Brigade, attended a tent demonstration class with ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members John Cordell (US) and Laura Jepson (UK) last weekend.

‘It was a great opportunity for some of the other organisations we have been liaising with to see ShelterBox disaster relief tents first hand,’ said Laura. ‘It was also a fantastic opportunity to train a team of people in preparation for upcoming distributions as ensuring tents are set up correctly is the key to their longevity.’

ShelterBox has been in Niger responding to numerous disasters including flooding that have affected an estimated 400,000 people, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The floods have also destroyed hundreds of hectares of rice fields in the country, which is already facing a food crisis along with others in the Sahel region of West Africa including Mali.

Read more here: SAHEL