The Importance of Pre-Positioned Aid

by JoAnna Black September 7, 2023

Why does ShelterBox pre-position aid?

Before a disaster happens, we make sure we are ready to help. One way we do that is by storing aid in strategic locations around the world which means we can get it to the people who need it as quickly as possible.

Pre-positioning aid in different regions of the world helps to make the supply chain more efficient and makes it quicker and cheaper to move the aid to where it is needed.

That means your donation becomes aid in someone’s hands faster, and more efficiently! By donating today, you can ensure that aid is stocked in warehouses, ready to deploy when disaster happens.

Where do you pre-position aid?

We currently have pre-positioning locations in Europe (Belgium), the Middle East (United Arab Emirates), South America (Panama), and Asia (Philippines and Malaysia). We store aid in regions close to the places we are most likely to respond, in areas we know we can ship from quickly. We regularly review these locations as part of our global pre-positioning strategy.

We store aid in the Philippines because we regularly respond in the country and there are significant benefits to moving aid to our warehouse ahead of when it’s needed. As well as internationally imported aid, we also source items locally, like corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheeting. It means we can respond quickly and get locally-appropriate aid to people that need it.

What type of aid items do you pre-position?

We store vital shelter items like tents, tarpaulins, rope, and shelter tool kits. We also store other essential items like blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, solar lights, and water filters and buckets. These are items we know from experience that people often need when they are affected by disaster.

We constantly monitor the amount of aid we have stored in each of these locations. When it’s used in a response, we place orders immediately to restock the warehouse. We try to be as pro-active as possible when replenishing warehouses, to ensure that we’re covered for future emergencies. You can help ensure our warehouses are fully stocked!

How do you make sure pre-positioned aid doesn’t go unused?

We choose locations for our warehouses that ensure we can get aid quickly to the places we are most likely to respond. We regularly monitor the amount of aid we have stored in each of these locations, because having more items stored is not always the right thing to do. Some items like mosquito nets have a strict shelf-life that we must take into consideration. Items that have been stored for longer are generally used first and rotating stock like this helps prevent items becoming unusable.

We never know when the next disaster will happen, so it’s important that we have access to additional aid too. That’s why we reserve stock with some of our suppliers, allowing us to access aid items that are ready to go when we need them.

The manufacturing time of our aid items varies, so reserving items that take longer to produce makes a significant difference. Although we reserve the items, we don’t have to pay for them until we need them. The stock is rotated by the supplier, so it has a long shelf-life when we access it. It also means that other organizations can request to buy and use these items if they need them, and we don’t.

Do you work with others in the sector to pre-position aid?

Humanitarian organizations often pre-position aid in the same locations we do. It means services like storage, procurement, handling, and onward transport can be shared, which helps keep costs lower. An example of this is the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), which has hubs across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Latin America. The hubs are run by the World Food Programme (WFP) and used by the humanitarian community, including ShelterBox, to pre-position aid in strategic regional locations.

Where possible, we work with others in the sector like The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and our suppliers to make use of existing global networks and supply chains. This helps us ensure our supply chain is as efficient and robust as possible.


Learn more about our aid items to see the impact that your support can make around the world.

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