Posted by Ian FAIRNIE on Jun 17, 2024
ShelterBox - what’s in a name?
What do you think of when you hear the word ShelterBox?
And do you think ShelterBox when you see this logo:
For those members who have been a Rotary member a while, ShelterBox was a Millennium project.  The original ShelterBox contained what a family might need to survive after a national disaster, be it a natural disaster such as an earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, or man-made disasters such as we are currently witnessing in Gaza and Ukraine.  It contained a tent, cooking equipment, fire lighters, blankets, and water purification tablets.
Typically these ShelterBoxes were filled and stored in countries like Australia and the UK, awaiting a disaster somewhere else, when they would be dispatched to where they could help.  There have been over 300 disasters where recovery has been assisted by ShelterBox, since it was established 24 years ago.
There are no ‘typical' ShelterBoxes any more, and none are stored in Australia or the UK awaiting dispatch overseas.  The COVID pandemic played a part in this, severely interrupting shipments from Australia to where they needed to go, and also raising the shipping costs astronomically.  As well, some countries also questioned some of the standard contents, like a tent.  It seems that sometimes when displaced families started living in a tent they were reluctant to leave it for more permanent housing.  And the financial benefits for supplying the contents of the ShelterBox stayed with the manufacturers, whereas they could form part of the recovery process if the goods were supplied in the country being assisted after the disaster.
So ShelterKits were added to the menu and were more ‘made to order’ tailored to the circumstances, and could include solar lights (, and mosquito nets for example, with vouchers to buy other needed goods in country.  
These galvanised straps produced in the Phillipines, can be included in the ShelterKit and used to stabilise damaged buildings so they can be reoccupied.
So the name has stayed the same, as has the logo, but what it means and how it works have changed.  But the brand reputation is strong and very high, so that even when a country might state they will not accept help from other countries after a natural disaster, like Morocco and Türkiye (Turkey) have done, they allow ShelterBox in to help because of the way it has evolved to meet their needs.
Mike summarised the ShelterBox philosophy thus: By meeting the immediate shelter needs of families in the days, weeks and months following a disaster, keeping households together, reducing displacement and providing the skills and knowledge to build adequate shelter, we anticipate that our actions will contribute to recovery at the household, community and national level.