ShelterBox and Rotarians serve devastated communities around the world

By Alex Youlten, Rotary Partnership Manager for ShelterBox, and Ellina Kushnir, Supervisor of Service and Engagement for Rotary International

As the 2017 Rotary year came to a close last month, Rotary and ShelterBox reflected on our most recent collaborations to save lives and help families and communities devastated by conflict and natural disasters.

Over the past year, Rotary groups around the world have raised the equivalent of US $2,846,956 to help families who have lost everything following disaster.  The funds enabled deployments to disasters in 12 countries (Afghanistan, Cameroon, Columbia, Ecuador, Fiji, Haiti, Iraq, Mozambique, Niger, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Syria) and relief efforts included responding to floods, political conflict, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones to help more than 20,150 families.

Natural disasters

Responding to flash floods and mudslides in Peru, ShelterBox worked closely with Rotarians and Rotaractors to conduct an assessment of affected communities in April 2017. As a result, 2000 solar lights and mosquito nets along with 1000 ShelterKits were distributed in the Trujillo and Piura Provinces. The ShelterKits allowed some families to stay in their homes and temporarily fix damaged structures while the nets and lights were used in camps by families who had lost their homes completely in the floods. Rotarians worked with ShelterBox on a range of activities, from identifying the worst affected communities and assisting with assessments, to clearing aid through customs. Rotary members also introduced ShelterBox’s operations team to the President and First Lady of Peru, to ensure consistency with national priorities.

In response to the Sri Lankan government’s appeal for help with rescue and relief following devastating mudslides and monsoons, ShelterBox re-established partnerships with the Sri Lankan government, colleague charities and local Rotary clubs. The Rotary Club of Capital City was awarded the District 3320 award for ‘Outstanding Project in Community Service’, “Economic & Community Development” for their tireless work with ShelterBox in response to the flooding and landslides in 2016.

Drought in Somaliland

More than 1.5 million people have been affected by severe drought over the past three years. With up 70% of livestock wiped out, high volumes of communities are moving throughout the country in search of food and water. After a March assessment, ShelterBox partnered with Action Aid to provide life-saving materials including tarpaulins, water containers, and sanitary products for women. Aid boxes have been redesigned for nomadic communities in Somaliland with additional resources arriving by late June.


In most conflict zones, it is unsafe and impractical for ShelterBox to deploy Response Team members to hand-deliver aid, as done with natural disasters. As a result of the generosity of Rotary clubs and districts all over the world, ShelterBox was able to team-up with implementing partners to distribute desperately needed aid in these regions.

Syria Refugee Crisis

As the conflict in Syria runs into its sixth year, ShelterBox continues to work with partners to help the estimated 6.6 million of affected people displaced from their homes. ShelterBox is working with on-the-ground implementing partners including Hand in Hand for Syria and ReliefAid to distribute ShelterBoxes, ShelterKits, and SchoolBoxes.

Iraq – Mosul Offensive

Since October 2016, around 900,000 people have been displaced in Iraq as forces battled to retake Mosul. Since the offensive began, ShelterBox and partners, including ACTED, have been helping people fleeing the city. In total, 6000 families have received shelter and other aid items, with a further 2000 families receiving additional essential lifesaving items.  ShelterBox continues to work with partners to reach more families.

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