ShelterBox eNewsletter March 2020

All of our lives are being affected by Covid-19 in some way, but those living in refugee camps or in makeshift settlements are particularly vulnerable.

We live in strange and challenging times. The Covid-19 outbreak is affecting everyone to some degree. Rightly, our priority is the health of our staff, volunteers and supporters. We encourage everyone to follow directives from government sources, stay safe and healthy.

Here in Australia, we are lucky: we are well-resourced and have a world-class health system; we are able to self-quarantine at home and care for ourselves and each other. But for people who are already homeless due to conflict or disaster and no access to healthcare, Corona virus is a new and deadly threat.

How can we help? Tents and shelter are now more important than ever to help people isolate themselves when they have lost their homes and help to limit the spread of Coronavirus. ShelterBox remains committed to reaching the most remote communities and to support them to get through the current outbreak.

Much of our protracted work is largely unaffected in the short-term: our work continues in Syria and Somaliland and upcoming projects in Cameroon and Ethiopia remain on course. Travel restrictions may affect our ability to respond to sudden-onset disasters, but we have aid strategically pre-positioned and our deployable roles are set-up to work remotely.

So, challenging times ahead; but as a disaster relief agency, we are determined to maintain and protect our ability to respond.

This month’s quote comes from Jimi Hendrix, “”Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”

Many thanks for your support

Mike Greenslade

CEO ShelterBox Australia

0459 959 501


Philippines – Typhoon Kammuri

A response team member demonstrates how to use a Luminaid solar light.

In early December Typhoon Kammuri, known locally as Typhoon Tisoy, ripped through the Philippines and many people across Northern Samar were severely affected. Coastal communities were hit the most and beaches were covered in the debris of destroyed homes. Electricity was wiped out, roads washed away and scores of fishing boats, the main source of livelihoods, were smashed to pieces.

Working through our Philippines office and local Rotary clubs, we supported over 2,500 families whose homes were either damaged or totally destroyed. NSW-based Response Team volunteer, Anthony Keating has recently returned from Northern Samar as part of a Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEAL) team.

The team undertook post-distribution monitoring activities, including surveys and conducting focus group discussions with communities who received a ShelterBox aid package. They were also able to evaluate the cash element of the project with communities who received a cash component.​

Unfortunately, due to restrictions introduced by the Philippines due to Coronavirus, the team were unable to visit some of the communities where they had planned to undertake PDM activities. Due to this, the team departed early before areas of the Philippines entered a lock down period.​

Somaliland – Drought

Ongoing drought and conflict have forced communities to move increasingly large distances to find fresh food for their animals, creating an estimated 2.6million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The first phase of distributions to 1,200 households is now complete. A second phase is planned to support around 540 households, with the aid for the second phase currently in transit.​

A team recently deployed to Somaliland to review the response and consider the changing context with our project partner ActionAid, as well as with the government and other humanitarian agencies. The team also joined a distribution of ShelterBox aid with the ActionAid team.​

Syria – Conflict

The ongoing civil war in Syria has left over 13 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2020, there has been renewed air-strikes and artillery incursions focused on the last rebel stronghold, Idlib. This has resulted in additional mass displacement of civilians fleeing from the violence in Idlib. A ceasefire has been in place since early March, which is currently still holding.​ Since 1st Dec 2019, it is reported that 950,000 people have been displaced.​

ShelterBox has helped over 50,000 families fleeing the conflict and plans are well underway to support a further 4,233 households. Work will continue with our partners, Relief Aid and Bahar Organisation.

Safiya’s Story

We lost our livestock”, said 40-year-old Safiya as she sits next to her temporary house. Speaking to ActionAid, ShelterBox’s implementing partner in Somaliland, she said she had to carry their limp bodies from her home out to a field every time they passed away. The harshest drought to hit the Horn of Africa in two decades has killed off all of her sheep and goats. “Even our donkeys have died”, said Safiya.

Dharyaalay village in the eastern part of the Togdheer region of Somaliland, where Safiya had lived for the past 20 years, suffered from the most extreme drought in recent history. The drought resulted in hundreds of thousands of vulnerable rural communities in Somaliland losing their livelihoods.

We’ve had droughts there in the past, but I don’t remember one as bad as the one that has forced me to become displaced”, said Safiya as she pointed towards her temporary house.

Safiya is living with hundreds of families in a camp for internally displaced people. She said they all agreed that they are used to seeing a shortage or lack of rain, but insist that they have never experienced one as hostile as the one that has killed their livestock and forced them leave their homes.

We have no proper shelter. Until only recently have we been able to build a temporary house out of cartons and plastic bags”, she said.

Safiya has nine children, five daughters and four boys. They find it difficult to sleep in their current shelter. They either sleep outside under the stars, or together inside with no comfort or privacy.

I have no choice, it’s me alone who is the head of the house and takes care of the children”. Her husband passed away four years before, but she gets some help from her relatives. With this help she manages to get the basic necessities of life including water and food. “Sometimes we don’t get enough money to buy batteries for the small torch we use for lighting”, said Safiya.

We had two blankets only and we used to share them. Every night there were disputes as everyone needed a blanket to keep them warm. At times, I did not sleep day and night as my house was not protecting me from the cold and the two blankets were being used by my children. I used to worry whenever the sky collects clouds fearing the rain would smash my temporary house.”

In August 2019, Safiya collected a ShelterBox which contained two tarpaulins, rope, solar lights, mosquito nets, five blankets, a water filter and a kitchen set. Upon collecting the aid item, she said:

This has helped my family a lot in getting light, giving enough blankets, and preventing security risks. Now I don’t have to worry as everyone has a blanket, the whole family can gather in one place and chat each with the help of the solar lights, thank you to those who donated this important kit.”


Support families affected by disaster and crisis. Please ………..

EFT: Bendigo Bank: ShelterBox Australia: BSB 633 000: Account no. 166 780 163 (please email to notify us of your donation and receive your tax receipt).

Cheques can be mailed to: ShelterBox Australia, PO Box 254, Parramatta, NSW, 2124All donations above $2 are fully tax-deductible.



ShelterBox Monitors Earthquake In Philippines

Photo taken during the ShelterBox deployment in response to an earthquake that hit Visaya island, February 2012, Philippines.

Photo taken during the ShelterBox deployment in response to an earthquake that hit Visaya island, February 2012, Philippines.


Three popular central islands in the Philippines have been shaken by a powerful earthquake that hit earlier this morning on a national public holiday. 
The effects of the 7.2-magnitude quake were felt in Cebu and Bohol, where infrastructure has crumbled and major roads have been ripped open and blocked by landslides. There has been loss of life as well as many people injured.
ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy has been monitoring the disaster:
‘There was a tsunami alert but luckily this came to nothing. Although there has been significant damage to buildings there are still no reports of a need for emergency shelter. However we will continue to watch the updates and monitor the disaster in case further news emerges.’
There are warnings of an increase in fatalities as search and rescue operations continue with the full extent of the damage yet to be assessed.
However relief has been expressed that the disaster happened on a public holiday as this meant there were fewer people than usual in many of the major buildings that suffered damage.
Aftershocks continue
The tremor triggered power outages in parts of Bohol, Cebu and neighbouring areas, according to the country’s national disaster management agency. Strong aftershocks still continue.
There is ShelterBox aid prepositioned in the Philippine city of Clarke including disaster relief tents as well as other vital equipment to enable a speedy response if a need is found.
You can help by DONATING HERE thank you


ShelterBox Tents Save Lives in Philippines

SRT members Abner Tayco (PH) and Liz Odell (UK) speaking to one of thousands affected by Typhoon Utor, Philippines, August 2013.

SRT members Abner Tayco (PH) and Liz Odell (UK) speaking to one of thousands affected by Typhoon Utor, Philippines, August 2013.


Typhoon Utor wreaked havoc in Luzon, one of the largest Philippine islands, two weeks ago. The storm has not only displaced thousands of people but also damaged infrastructure including hospitals, affecting much needed medical services, particularly in the Aurora Province where ShelterBox has been assessing the needs of the communities.   
‘The hospital’s roof was completely blown off on the night the storm hit,’ said Dr. Nelia Diesta, the assistant hospital administrator in Casiguran municipality hospital. ‘We were forced to move patients to the small area of the hospital that remained intact which has meant that many patients are being made to stay outside under some tarpaulin. Patients are also being seen to slowly due to the lack of space.’
The hospital is already relatively small and serves four municipalities, it cannot close. Furthermore, rebuilding efforts are likely to take months to make the building safe again. Therefore a few ShelterBox tents that were already prepositioned in the country are being used to accommodate patients.
Damaged hospital in Casiguran, Aurora Province, Philippines, August 2013.

Damaged hospital in Casiguran, Aurora Province, Philippines, August 2013.


‘There has been an influx of patients since the storm as it inflicted injuries, like lacerations, upon people,’ said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Liz Odell (UK). ‘Setting up the tents here enables more patients to be seen per day quickly and gives them a clean private space to recover. It’s the only hospital for 100 miles and therefore a vital contribution to the communities’ wellbeing.’
The SRT continues with assessments in and around the capital city of Manila as heavy rains continue.
‘Even being from the Philippines, I have never seen such poverty and isolation,’ said SRT member Abner Tayco (PH). ‘Typhoon Utor has had a particularly destructive impact on the region as it was the strongest to hit in many years.’
You can help families affected by disaster by DONATING HERE. Thank you



ShelterBox Response Team in the Philippines Told, ” Bopha the Worst Storm the Area Has Ever Seen”

Destruction left behind by Typhoon Bopha in Compostela Valley, Philippines, December 2012.

Destruction left behind by Typhoon Bopha in Compostela Valley, Philippines, December 2012.


‘As we were driving I saw miles and miles of people lined up on both sides of the road holding cardboard signs asking for donations of anything like food or water, eyes desperate and scared. I have never seen anything like it on previous deployments.’ 

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member John Cordell (US) describes his journey to Compostela Valley in Davao Oriental province, Philippines, one of the worst hit areas by super Typhoon Bopha on the island of Mindanao. He is part of a three-person team who has been assessing the need in the region.

Almost a quarter of the 4.1 million people affected by the destructive storm are in Compostela Valley, also known as Camval, with ninety per cent of the 7,200 totally destroyed homes being here. Out of the 800 people still missing, 500 are in Camval. Buildings have been washed away or buried by flash floods and mudslides. Food and water is scarce.

‘Worse storm ever’ 

‘We have been told that Bopha is the worst storm this area has ever seen,’ said John.

ShelterBox has aid pre-positioned in the Philippines (this is our 12th deployment to the disaster-prone country). SRT’s from ShelterBox Philippines responded immediately.

Read more here: PHILIPPINES