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Disaster relief

Disaster Aid making an impact for Rotary

Disaster Aid making an impact for Rotary

Disaster Aid UK has come a long way in 43 years since its earlier guise at Rotary Emergency Box formed by Rotarians in Lancashire. Now this global charity has received official Rotary recognition.

Disaster Aid International has gained recognition by becoming a Collaborative Organisation of Rotary International.

The guidelines say: “Collaborating organisations adhere to Rotary’s ethical standards, have no conflicts of interest in their work with Rotary, and have a regional or global presence. Collaborating organisations work alongside Rotarians or Rotaractors, or they offer Rotary members opportunities to participate actively in humanitarian service.”

Disaster Aid UK and Ireland has its origins in the Rotary Emergency Box, which was conceived in the then Rotary District 105 (now 1285) by the late Arthur Bowker.

Disaster Aid

Disaster Aid International has gained recognition by becoming a Collaborative Organisation of Rotary International.

Arthur was a founder member of the Rotary Club of Manchester South, a past president of the Rotary Club of Dukinfield and Stalybridge, and a member, at that time, of the Rotary Club of Ashton-under-Lyne. He was also a member of the District’s International Committee.

Arthur recognised that there were people affected by all kinds of natural disasters around the world who had lost everything they owned.

Provision of a few very basic things quickly would help these people survive. He also knew that Rotary was a huge force for good with a global reach.

Arthur recognised that there were people affected by all kinds of natural disasters around the world who had lost everything they owned.”

The concept of a Rotary box with contents for survival was born. and adopted by Rotary International of Great Britain & Ireland in 1974.

From 1975 to 2002, more than 30,000 emergency boxes were shipped around the world.

In 2002, the decision was taken to change the contents from a selection of new or second-hand items to a standard set of new items.

Disaster Aid

From 1975 to 2002, more than 30,000 emergency boxes were shipped around the world.

This was because the inconsistency in the contents of the box often caused problems at customs and did not always meet the requirements of the recipients.

This meant that instead of clubs packing the boxes, the charity packed them themselves, and the costs of the contents and shipping the filled boxes were met by donations. To emphasis this major change, the name of the box was changed to ‘LifeBox’.

In 2010, the organisation was asked by fellow Rotarians in Canada, USA and Australia to join them in a new humanitarian relief organisation called Disaster Aid International. They agreed, and changed their name to Disaster Aid UK & Ireland.

The pooling of respective resources and expertise inevitably resulted in an organisation that now has a significant impact on disaster relief.

Disaster Aid International currently has country partners in: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Uruguay, UK & Ireland, and USA.

In the UK, Disaster Aid UK and Ireland is a project of Denton & Audenshaw Rotary.

Disaster Aid International currently has country partners in: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Uruguay, UK & Ireland, and USA.”

Walter Thomas, an ambassador for Disaster Aid UK, and a member of Denton & Audenshaw Rotary, said: “We have been responding to disasters around the world for 43 years, sometimes on our own but more often, since 2010, in partnership with global Disaster Aid country partners.

“Collectively these country partners become Disaster Aid International and maximise our effectiveness at delivering help to rebuild communities in disaster-stricken areas, anywhere in the world.

“All Disaster Aid country partners are separate entities but all are Rotary club or District projects.

We have been responding to disasters around the world for 43 years, sometimes on our own but more often, since 2010, in partnership with global Disaster Aid country partners.”

“As part of Disaster Aid International, we have taken part in projects recently in the Nepal, the Caribbean, Indonesia, India, Mozambique, Bahamas and now Beirut, pooling resources of finance, materials and our volunteer Disaster Aid Response Team Members.

“They go out and ensure that the aid is delivered in the best possible way, to those who need it most, working alongside local organisations and people.”

And now Disaster Aid International has gained further recognition by becoming a Collaborative Organisation of Rotary International.


The main responses provided by Disaster Aid International, taking account of local needs and following dialogue, are:

Refuge: whether temporary such as tents or tarpaulins or more permanent by home repair kits, aid boxes or locally purchased building materials

Water: providing clean safe water solutions such as family water filters or filters capable of serving whole communities

Training: identifying local needs and having local people assist with installation and then taking responsibility for ongoing operations and maintenance

Disaster Aid International’s mission is:

  • To respond to disasters with the supply of humanitarian aid to the affected communities or individuals
  • To work in partnership on humanitarian projects funded by other organisations including Rotary Clubs or Districts.

The philosophy is underpinned by smartaid “giving a hand-up, not a hand-out”

If you would like a speaker to come to your Rotary Club please contact: admin@disasteraiduk.org