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Shipping Containers Deliver Vital Humanitarian Aid

Most of the sea-containers you see departing on gigantic freighters from major US shipping ports, such as New York and New Jersey, Long Beach, Seattle and Savannah carry run-of-the-mill, commercial cargoes, but an increasing number carry essential relief for countries ravaged by war, natural disasters or extreme poverty.

Tough Shipping Containers Handle Tough Tasks

NGO’s based in the US, including the American Red Cross, Mercy Corps and Americares, collect donated medical supplies, clothing, non-perishable foodstuffs, tents and blankets, then convey them to disaster zones across the world, in robust shipping containers of the type built by Port Containers USA. These units, constructed from nigh on indestructible, marine-grade steel, can take a hell of a lot of punishment, including all that the world’s wildest oceans can throw at them and perhaps even the odd stray bullet! Many perfectly serviceable goods that might otherwise become useless landfill can literally end up saving lives.

Lifesaving Supplies Dispatched to Peru via Sea Container

One American charity, operating out of Los Angeles, uses steel shipping containers to send urgent medical supplies, donated by companies like Stanford and Kaiser Permanente, down to poverty-struck Peru. Back in 2015 they filled no less than sixty 40-foot container units, using a vast army of volunteers to sort, catalogue and pack the contents, before dispatching them to Lima. Although it costs around $12,000 to ship a container the 4,000 miles from LA to Peru, a full load can be worth in excess of $700,000, making it a rewarding venture. The upside for companies donating supplies is that they are increasing their commitment to green initiatives and corporate social responsibility, and enhancing their PR message along the way.

Shipping Containers Offer Far More Than Simple Storage

Repurposed shipping containers – sometimes known by the portmanteau word ‘cargotecture’ – have long been used as a cheap accommodation in the US and right across the world, but they are also a smart solution to providing emergency shelter for those struck by disasters like floods and hurricanes. Provided there is access for container ships, 10, 20 or 40-foot units can be delivered relatively quickly, providing victims with warm, safe homes for weeks, months or even years. Shipping containers can also serve as emergency medical centres, canteens, offices, bathrooms and food stores.

Versatile Spaces Bring relief to Haiti

In 2015, two enterprising Tennessee brothers founded a non-profit organization to build shipping container homes in Nashville, purely to fund a programme for constructing similar emergency homes in Haiti, in the wake of its devastating hurricanes. There are even plans by another NGO to build 900 long-term shipping container homes on the island, with the potential to house 5,000 people, close to the capital of Port-au-Prince.  In an area repeatedly threatened by storms, steel shipping containers not only fulfil an initial need but are also resilient enough to cope with future extreme weather events. They require little maintenance, thanks to the use of Corten steel (also known as weathering steel) which eliminates the need for painting, by forming a stable rust-like patina that will protect the container for many years. It’s commonplace for sea-going shipping containers to provide at least a couple of decades of dependable service.