Rotary New Zealand’s sole humanitarian first response for those left homeless following cyclones and floods is the Emergency Response Kit (ERK). Established in 1983 the original “fill your own” wooden Emergency Box (EMBOX) with second-hand goods replicated a scheme that had been operating in the United Kingdom by Rotary since 1971.
Early in 2009 devastating floods in Fiji saw 150 Boxes distributed from stock held in Lautoka with a further 300 flown in from Auckland. In September of that same year, in Samoa, some 3,200 people were made homeless following a devastating Tsunami. Rotary New Zealand responded within hours with 400 Boxes.
In 2010 change was called for. Out with the wooden box of second goods and in with a new plastic box and all new contents.
Each ERK contains essential items including tarpaulins, blankets, household cooking, eating and cleaning gear, hardware, tools, fishing gear, toiletries and hygiene necessities with a limited amount of essential clothing items.
Under the leadership of the ERK operations manager and his team, filling of ERK’s is now done in batches of 500 to 1,000 by members and supporters of combined Rotary Clubs in New Zealand. Prepositioned stock is stored in Auckland, Fiji (Suva, Lautoka and Labasa), Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Vanuatu (Port Vila and Santo). Stock prepositioned in the Pacific is monitored for all countries by a Rotarian appointed as ERK Manager in Fiji.
Forward planning by Rotary is essential and crucial to ensure there is sufficient stock prepositioned in the Pacific Islands to cater for an urgent response with adequate stock on hand to replace that depleted overnight following a disaster.
Since 2009, a total of 10,886 ERKs have been purchased and packed responding to 18 devastating cyclones and flooding and 1 tsunami.
Distribution is coordinated with the local in-country National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). NGO’s who provide transportation, personnel and volunteers to ensure the kits are distributed in a timely manner are called to assist Rotary.
One recipient from Fiji visiting a Rotary information booth in Auckland some years later was reported to have said “I was not a Rotarian but when my family desperately needed help after disastrous flooding in Fiji, Rotary gave us one of these ERK’s – that’s why I wanted to join Rotary and became a Rotarian.”
For further information contact Lynne Joseph (Rotorua Passport) email Donations to RNZWCS Limited 03 1702 0192208 02 Ref : 308