Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020 - 58

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ABOVE: A PVC tent acts
as a temporary school in
a Vanuatu village after
Cyclone Pam in 2015.
AT RIGHT: Peter O'Connell
of Douglas Outdoor &
Textile Innovation and
Lyndon Tamblyn of
Byond Disaster Relief
New Zealand. Douglas
has donated more than
a thousand pounds of
shelter-type fabrics.

58 REVIEW FEBRUARY 2020

welding, that could be useful and that they
could source or donate. It was obvious that
this was an opportunity for a win-win, a way
to keep unsaleable materials out of landfills
while serving a greater good.
Tamblyn is well-acquainted with the high
quality of industrial fabrics, particularly the
PVC used to make billboard skins, and knows
they can be incredibly useful in the immediate
aftermath of a disaster. Tough, waterproof and
flexible, the skins can be used for temporary
shelters, ground cover for sleeping, tarps for
covering food and medical supplies and can
even be welded together to create collapsible
buckets to collect fresh water. In later stages
of recovery, the fabric can be used again as a
roofing membrane when rebuilding homes.

"A simple piece of fabric has so many uses, and
you don't realize how valuable it is until you
have nothing," Tamblyn observes. "And no
one cares if it has advertising on one side."
Other products and accessories such as
ropes, cords, and anchor screws can be useful
in building and securing shelters, binding
goods for shipment and functioning as
bucket handles. Also on Tamblyn's wish
list are inflatable tents, which can be used
for medical tents, temporary classrooms or
emergency management centers.
SITE SPECIFIC
The process of distributing aid to a damagestricken area usually starts with people
on-site-either a local contact, one of Byond's
aid partners or someone at an emergency
management agency-who can offer their
assessment of the situation and give reliable
information on what is most needed. Byond
NZ then mobilizes and connects with partners
such as Sea Mercy (transportation), Rotary
clubs (service), SHaRM Foundation (school
rebuilding) and others to gather and deliver
supplies. All of the work is done by volunteers,
mostly mid-career people in their 40s and 50s
who have the ability to take a few weeks off
and help out.
As nimble as Byond NZ is, the group has
faced challenges on the ground, including
discovering that some products intended
for aid can find their way to the markets for
sale. The team has learned that stamping aid
items with "Byond Disaster Relief NZ Do
Not Sell" is a good deterrent for this kind
of theft. A thornier issue is navigating the
tax-exemption rules in various countries.
Some grant a two-week tax-free window
immediately following a disaster, but after
that charities must negotiate a tax-exempt
status with the customs minister and/or
local government to avoid paying a tax on
donated items such as buckets or water
purification systems.
Byond NZ also occasionally runs into
cultural challenges such as villages taking
issue with the color of their tarpaulin relative
to their neighbors'. "We try to be culturally
sensitive and compassionate because we're
in their home, but ultimately we're there
to meet basic survival needs. Our primary
concern is giving them a high-quality shelter


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Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020

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