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Tools and materials


Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Floods. Every year thousands of families see their homes destroyed in a matter of minutes. 

In the wake of a disaster, families can use the contents of a shelter kit to make immediate repairs to their damaged homes. 

Our shelter kits are proven to work. They have helped families survive in the flood plains of Malawi, displacement camps in the Middle East, and the mountains of Nepal. 

We customise the contents of the kit to meet the individual needs of each community we help. Sometimes they include corrugated iron to help make resistant roofing, as well as items like tarpaulin and timber. 

We often add a number of other essentials like solar lights, blankets and water containers to help families return to a normal life as soon as possible.

A home in Malawi


Modestar in front of her new shelter
"I’m very pleased to have this shelter – thank you", Modestar told us.

Modestar saw her home and livelihood get washed away by Cyclone Idai that wreaked havoc in Malawi in March 2019.

For Modestar, a single mother of two, the road to recovery was not going to be easy. 

After moving to a camp where other families were also escaping the flooding, Modestar received tools and essential aid items to help her on the road to recovery.

Just nine days after collecting her shelter kit, she built a new home for her family. Modestar cleverly used some leftover nail hooks to hang up the items from her new kitchen set, helping to make her shelter a home.  

Read Modestar's story

A flatlay photograph of all the items included within a ShelterKit. Spade, nails, hammer, saw, rope

What could be inside a shelter kit?


Inside a shelter kit can be a range of simple and rigorously tested tools to repair a home, start a new life and find a way out of the rubble.

We can offer a range of different items to the people who need support, tailoring the number of tarpaulins, tools and fixings depending on the situation and needs of families.

Items packed in a shelter kit could include:

  • Tarpaulin: sheets of heavy-duty tarp can be used to create walls and roofs
  • Rope(s): this universal essential can make shelters secure and stable
  • Hoe(s): this tool can prepare the ground and later be used for farming
  • Tie wire: fix tarpaulins or bamboo structures with 500g of wire
  • Tin snips: the snips can be used to cut tie wire or tin roofing plates
  • Handsaw: the saw will enable people to use timber or bamboo if it's available
  • Roofing nails: we include 500g worth of nails, with washers to seal out the rain
  • Shovel: this can prepare foundations for a shelter or dig drainage ditches
  • Nails: 1kg of timber nails will also secure any repairs
  • Claw hammer: another universal tool for nailing together a home 
  • Curved needle: to stitch tarpaulins
  • Tape measure: to measure distance for any projects or tasks

More than just tools


A shelter in Kenya made with the help of a shelter kit.

In 2018, flooding swept away homes and livelihoods in Kenya, leaving over 290,000 people homeless. 

We responded by providing essential aid such as solar lights, ground mats, and shelter kits.

See our work in Kenya

The tools were incredibly welcomed by families. Speaking to Mariam from Kilifi county we learnt that she loved the tools and being taught on how to use them.

This came with a sense of pride as, for the first time, she had a responsibility to rebuild her home – not just her husband.

Mariam then taught her own children how to use the tools. She told us:

As a woman I had never been taught how to use tools. I am now able to use them to help build the shelter in the day when my husband is working. 

I will also be able to use some of them in the farm. This makes me very happy.

Shelter kit training


We provide training in the field to help families understand how to use their new equipment. 

In this video, a ShelterBox team works with a local community in Cameroon, training them on how to use our shelter kits.

These community members will then go on to train other members of their community.

Watch this video to see our aid and specific tips and techniques, like how to secure a tarpaulin. 

The tarpaulin sheet can be used...

As a temporary shelter

to offer protection in an emergency. The tarpaulin could be all that stands between a family and the elements.

As a repair

to create a temporary roof or wall, until more permanent materials are found.

As a tool for harvest time

to provide a drying surface for rice crops. Rice has a high moisture level and if it's not quickly dried out is prone to mould.

How shelter kits change lives


Rebuilding after the Nepal earthquakes

After their home had been lost to the earthquakes ShelterBox helped Surya Maya Danwar and her family seek desperately needed shelter.

Recovery in Dominica

How 81-year-old Simon started rebuilding his life with the help of ShelterBox after Hurricane Maria.

Answering prayers in the Philippines

With shelter kits, our team showed Mercedes and Valentin how they could build resilient shelters to protect themselves from future storms in the Philippines.