International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The strong winds and heavy rainfall triggered floods and storm surges, causing widespread devastation, particularly in coastal villages and towns.
Official figures estimated that at least 6,300 people were killed and more than 16 million people were affected across the region.
In the wake of the typhoon the Philippine Red Cross, supported by partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, launched a large-scale relief and recovery operation. The Red Cross provided emergency relief to 1.3 million people, including emergency shelter, water, food, cash and medical assistance. Since then, the focus has been on supporting longer-term recovery. So far over 622,000 people have benefited from new or repaired homes and cash to restore their livelihoods. Another 222,500 will have access to better health and school facilities and sanitation.
Thousands more householders and carpenters who participated in the construction process have been taught simple techniques to build homes that will be stronger and more resistant to future disasters. As the operation has unfolded, thousands of people have joined Red Cross as community volunteers, passing on what they learned about disease prevention and disaster mitigation to families, friends and neighbours.
Now, two years on from the disaster, the Red Cross continues its work to empower communities, families and individuals to improve their lives.
Support for livelihoods extends beyond providing cash grants to households to start up income-generating activities. For the first time, Philippine Red Cross is putting more than 1,100 young people through skills training and giving grants to up to 100 community enterprise projects.
The Red Cross continues its vital work of training and equipping thousands of volunteers in disaster risk reduction, ensuring that communities are better prepared for future disasters.
“Haiyan was an enormous challenge and we’ve been enormously successful. We are happy for those whose lives we have improved by creating opportunities. The most important thing is giving people their dignity.
“Nature smashed us and we smashed back. We learned from the storm. Now we are better equipped, better prepared and have supplies and goods pre-positioned. Our volunteer network is growing.”
Richard J. Gordon – Chairman and CEO, Philippine Red Cross
Since April 2014, the Red Cross has built or repaired more than 65,000 homes. About 3,500 carpenters have been trained in simple yet effective build back safer techniques. Now most houses can be built in less than a week.
‘Giving beneficiaries a stake in building their own homes gives them a chance to acquire new skills,’ says Patrick Elliott, the IFRC’s operations manager in the Philippines.
‘The IFRC’s half-concrete houses are designed to withstand strong wind and typhoons. If they are damaged, the householder can easily replace the upper part.’
More than 59,000 households have received up to $220 for their chosen livelihood activity. While many choose to replace lost livestock or replant their crops, a small but growing number are transforming hobbies or existing skills into small businesses. They include families in Aklan province who are determined to continue the tradition of weaving pina using fibres from pineapple plants; women in Cebu province who specialise in cooking local delicacies; and a dressmaker in Capiz province who makes garments for most of her village.
Noriel, a farmer-turned-sausage maker in Aklan, kickstarted his roadside stall with a cash grant; Manuel from Antique built an oven and bought equipment for his backyard bakery, and Angelie Suarez, has establish a candle-making business; meanwhile Erick Gil sells ice cream.
Elderly couples such as Illuminada and Gil supplement their tiny pension by making straw hats and selling them in the market, while Francisco fixes electric appliances for neighbours in his rural community.
Wood carver Basilides lost his house and tools when Typhoon Haiyan struck. Two years later, his unusual carvings and wooden spectacle frames are a big hit with locals and visitors alike.
Café owner Irene Collera lives in Palo, Leyte, across from the beach where the storm surge caused by Haiyan swept away people, homes and fishing boats.
“Red Cross gave me and my family a head start back in the early days when we lost everything. Now I have a good business selling coconut juice and am opening another stall. I’ve rebuilt my house and I’m able to save for my kids’ education,” she says.
As part of its recovery operation, the Red Cross agreed with the Philippine Department of Health to construct or rehabilitate 64 facilities, reinforcing them against future typhoons and installing new equipment. Each facility serves on average three communities, or more than 100,000 people.
Improving healthcare is also about training people to support and prepare their communities. Hundreds of volunteers are being trained in basic healthcare so they can work closely with government health workers to educate and build awareness around preventable diseases in their communities. The Red Cross Community-Based Health and First Aid programme works across 101 communities.
“Our health programme is holistic. It’s not enough to build a health facility in a particular place and leave it at that; it needs to be linked to the needs of surrounding communities,” says IFRC’s health coordinator Dr Bhanu Pratap.
“The facility becomes a focal point for vaccination and other health campaigns as well as training for community health volunteers (CHV), who then take key health messages to the wider population.”
The CHV programme includes elements of community assessment, mobilization, first aid, water and sanitation training, disease prevention and health promotion. The volunteers are taught to use tools such as flip charts, create seasonal calendars and hazard maps to share information. They also learn how to collect and analyse household data using mobile data collection (Open Data Kits). Information collected on mobile devices is fed back to local authorities.
These trained volunteers help bridge the gap between community and local government health workers. So far, more than 1,100 have received the week-long training and are already undertaking a variety of tasks.
Water, sanitation, and hygiene
More than 55,000 families and 10,000 school children have joined in hygiene and sanitation sessions, including peer education and classroom-based activities. These programmes raise awareness of good hygiene practices, such as handwashing and proper use of toilets, to reduce the spread of communicable disease.
Nearly 100 schools and pre-schools have newly repaired water and sanitation facilities, while each new house has an inside or outdoor latrine. Nearly 1,500 water systems have also been repaired.
More than 3,200 schools and daycare centres were destroyed or damaged, leaving over one million children without access to a space for learning. The Movement aimed to rehabilitate or rebuild these facilities and to re-equip them for students and teachers. Psychosocial support through play therapy was also undertaken to tackle anxiety.
To ensure that risks of contracting and spreading diseases are reduced, the children’s hygiene and sanitation transformation (CHAST) approach is being used with children to teach them good hygiene and sanitation practices.
Since the typhoon, the Movement has rebuilt and rehabilitated 360 classrooms.
To ensure that children can prepare for disasters and raise their own, and their families’ awareness on the risks faced by the community, disaster risk reduction activities have been included in the curricula of 23 schools. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s support to education enables the children to maximize their potential and become active partners in reducing disaster and health risks in their communities.
With teachers and schools nurturing the children affected by Haiyan, their transformation into beacons of hope for a healthier and better prepared next generation is assured.
Disaster Risk Reduction
The Philippine Red Cross contributes to achieving the objectives of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 by supporting communities as they prepare for future disasters. During training, the National Society gives special attention to including and addressing the needs of vulnerable groups such as children, seniors and people with disabilities.
To update the approaches and methodologies of the disaster risk reduction and management, the Philippine Red Cross, with support from partners, developed a framework comprising a strategy, advocacy plan and implementation guidelines.
Similarly, the Philippine Red Cross also developed curricula for standard DRRM at the community level, in schools and workplaces, highlighting the responsibility of different stakeholders. These activities are implemented by trained Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers via the 143 programme, which aims to train 44 volunteers across all barangays to act as an extension of the Philippine Red Cross at community level. Volunteers are provided basic training in disaster preparedness and response, as well as first aid.
National disaster response teams and staff members from the headquarters and chapters of Philippine Red Cross are also being trained to improve their skills in responding to disasters and implement recovery programmes.
Since the typhoon, the Movement has reached 12,110 people and organized 63 training sessions for staff and volunteers in disaster risk reduction.