Photo: ACT/ Z Tiongco
One year ago Super Typhoon Haiyan whipped through the Philippines leaving catastrophic damage. The typhoon made landfall on November 8, 2013 and devastating the Visayas, Bicol and northern Mindinao areas, including those struggling to recover from the earthquake in Bohol. It left 7,200 dead or missing and affected 16 million people. Around 4.1 million people lost their homes.
“How time flies so quickly and yet there are still a lot of things to do! The people in general have not yet completely recovered from the effects of the calamity. In the communities, there is still a need for rehabilitation – livelihood, shelter, infrastructures. Government resources for relief and rehab appear less than private sources though even up to the present in spite of promises given earlier. Psychological support for typhoon victims is virtually non-existent mainly because there are no resources for this. Nevertheless, being resilient people, Filipinos merely focus on surviving and coping from the crisis.
“In our visits in the barangays(villages), the greatest challenge for the residents is still economic development/rehabilitation. Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan) destroyed livelihoods and made struggling people poorer. The people in the barangays will never forget the trauma and the ensuing hardships. Everyone whom we talked with said that they don’t want something like this to happen in their lives again.”
Tet Naraval, Developers
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines has prepared a liturgy to commemorate Typhoon Haiyan. Rising up for Abundant Life includes stories of survivors, music, prayer and symbol.
Pouldo Bacatio remembers his grandmother, Salvacion, a victim of Typhoon Haiyan from Palo in Leyte. Photo: ACT/P Jeffrey
Where we are working
CWS is working with the National Council of Churches of the Philippines and the ACT Alliance across the region. In the first few months they distributed relief supplies and are now working with local people to rebuild homes and livelihoods.
In the northern area of Aklan province CWS is supporting the work of long term partner Developers Foundation to rebuild homes and livelihoods. 12,999 people now have 3 or 4 sheets of corrugated iron roofing to protect them from the rain. They have repaired 6 schools and have provided some help to restore livelihoods. Much more needs to be done. They want to help farmers replant, restore farming and fishing equipment and seeds. They also would like to replant some of the many mangroves washed away to protect them from future storms.
We need your support. Please donate today so we can send support to local partners working on the ground.
Report Back: One Year On
ACT Alliance members organised a large-scale response after thr typhoon. Together they have reached 1 million people. More than 500,000 people received food. They have worked with local people to build 101,889 shelters and assisted 628 families to relocate. Together they have provided water, health and sanitation for 135,000 individuals as well as community based psychosocial report. ACT has enabled 119,212 individuals to restore lost livelihoods, sometimes better than what they had before. People have been trained in disaster risk reduction so they are better prepared for the inevitable future typhoons. The Philippines usually has 20 typhoons a year of which 5 are destructive.
Up to 3 million People still Unsafe
Hanie Ablona, 58, typhoon survivor, beams with happiness as she looks at the freshly-harvested rice stalks in Batad, Iloilo. Their crop of rice and corn increased this year, a much needed source of food and income. Her son Gerald Ablona can hardly believe that this year, his crop almost doubles.
“Before, I was able to harvest 50 sacks of rice per hectare. Now I am harvesting maybe 100 sacks. That is because the seeds were of a good quality.”
Rice and corn seeds were distributed by ACT Alliance member NCCP to farmer beneficiaries in Barangay Bulak Norte, Batad, Iloilo to assist typhoon-affected villages recover their livelihood.
In the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan, the community received relief packages. Through the ACT Alliance typhoon Haiyan response, they have also been assisted to construct new transitional houses.
ACT Alliance has been present since the first moments of the catastrophe across the affected areas. It has provided assistance to over one million survivors. Now it is staying on with them, to provide homes, means of livelihood and to train people to prepare for disasters.
“I want people to have self-confidence. I want them to be able to help themselves and also others”, says Mark Lugo, Community worker in NCCP Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction program.
Reconstruction across the affected areas has been badly hampered by lack of materials, skilled workforce, difficulties to obtain land in safe locations – and political rivalry. The situation has made reconstruction very challenging for all humanitarian organizations.
A disaster-prone nation, the Philippines has an average 20 typhoons per year, with five of them destructive, in addition to floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A month after Haiyan, the Philippine Government launched a “Built Back Better” campaign, but its results have been modest.
One year after Haiyan, many are still without an adequate shelter in high-risk areas. No-one knows exactly how many. According to the UN Shelter Cluster final report (September 2014), the figure may be up to 3 million. 25,000 people still live in tents, now covered in mould. Most evacuation centers still have not been repaired after Haiyan. This means that people have no safe places to stay during a typhoon. There is a high risk this situation may lead to another crisis.
Ulla Karki ACT/NCCP
5 November 2014
Report Back: Six Months On
"The support from CWS has been absolutely helpful," says Tet Naraval of CWS partner Developers. Developers has been supplying corrugated iron roofing to families whose homes have been badly damaged or totally destroyed in Aklan Province. They are also helping rebuild classrooms and livelihoods.
ACT Alliance has helped over one million people with food, bedding, water, hygiene kits, psycho social support, legal support and long term legal advice. Take a look:
God Was Looking After Us
Marilyn (aged 28) was worried when Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, struck the Philippines. With a baby well on the way, she moved from her parents’ to her aunt’s house where she and her husband thought the family would be safer. It was a sturdier house.
She reports, “Suddenly a wave crashed into the house and we had to escape. We fled to my uncle’s house, and there was corrugated iron and nails flying around. I had to keep myself calm, because I didn’t want to go into labour. My husband kept me safe. I was confident that God was looking after me and answering my prayers. With all the debris that was flying around, we weren’t hit. We were kept safe. God was looking over us.
“I didn’t come back immediately after the storm as I was stressed and needed sleep (they were staying in the school). I returned about a week later after my father was able to fix a house. It’s very small and 8 of us sleep in a tight space like sardines. Now we’re unable to make a lot of money, as Renel (her husband) can’t go deep sea fishing because the boats are damaged. Now he’s doing hook and line fishing from a small boat to catch enough fish for us to eat. He hopes to go out in the new moon, which is the best time to catch squid, but we don’t know when the boat he works on will be fixed." (Renel crews on a bigger squid fishing boat).
Before the storm Marilyn ran a small convenience store but everything was washed away. Until ACT Alliance came with a food package, the only support the family had was a small amount of rice from the local government. On 22 November Marilyn gave birth to her son Renel junior (pictured. Before the typhoon the family lived with Marilyn’s parents while saving money to build their own home. “In all the years I have been here, I’ve never seen anything like this (storm). The intensity was crazy,” she said.
“Normally at Christmas, we make sure we save some food and manage to have a meal as a family all together. But now, following the typhoon, we’re not even thinking about Christmas, we’re just thankful we’re alive and we have something to eat,” she concluded.
6 December 2013 (ACT Alliance)
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ACT relief reaching Haiyan survivors – but more is needed
By the light of a dozen torches and two motorcycle lamps, the residents of Hernani, a district of east Samar wrecked by typhoon Haiyan, collect parcels of food that will sustain them for a week. Where a fortnight ago Haiyan made landfall, a marketplace serves as the collection point this evening. Local leaders read the names of residents under their jurisdiction. At their name, residents move up to the table and sign to take a bag. When the last name is called, a cheer goes up.
The next village is an otherwise idyllic setting, just off the beach and overlooked by coconut trees. Except that the sandy gravel where the distribution takes place was once full of houses, washed away by the giant waves that crossed the sea and then the land on November 8. In this area alone, 65 people
died, while another four are still missing. A handful of houses remain but it’s otherwise impossible to tell this is a township.
It’s too late to share relief packs with a third village, so labourers haul the remaining parcels off the trucks, one by one, by hand, as they’d been loaded on the night before. And pack them carefully by candlelight in the United church. At first light the next day, residents gather to collect the precious parcels.
The food is from ACT Alliance member National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) and is funded by ACT Alliance members under a larger US$14.1m appeal. With each parcel of rice, tinned sardines, dried fish, oil and biscuits, comes palpable relief that at least one immediate need is met. With a round of thank yous and words of gratitude, residents return to what remains of their homes or to the rudimentary shelters they’ve built of tarpaulins or materials they have salvaged.
A total of 2200 households in Hernani will get food parcels, following 620 the day before in a town on the west coast. The job is not done: already the next consignment of parcels are being weighed and counted in Manila before making the journey down to the disaster areas. Northern Iloilo/ACT Alliance
It is one ACT Alliance response of many. Across the worst affected areas of the country – the islands of Samar, Leyte, northern Cebu, Iloilo – 10 ACT Alliance members are distributing food, offering tents, carrying out temporary rehabilitation work, and offering health services such as minor surgery, neo natal treatment, vaccination and health promotion.
With local authorities, ACT members are working out who is in greatest need, in what areas and the likely constraints to distribution. ACT members are establishing which areas most need food, shelter, psychosocial support, hygiene kits, and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. A lot of work involves meeting other relief groups to work out the best way of carrying out the work.
Thankful to have family alive
It is strange to hear laughter in the face of tragedy. As the food parcels at Hernani are handed out, young people jokingly voice their satisfaction with the biscuits. Others laugh as they egg their neighbours forward to collect parcels. When a bag spits and the contents disperse, a cry of ‘landslide’ goes up. Down the road, someone’s put up a Christmas tree, virtually a permanent structure in this landscape. The people of Hernani greet visitors with cameras with a wave and a smile, as they always do.
The laughter belies or maybe disguises the severity of the situation in the Philippines. Government estimates, reported by UNOCHA, of affected people have again gone up, now to 13.25 million. Haiyan left 4.4 million people homeless, with most living in places other than evacuation centres.
Collapse of infrastructure worsens the response. On Samar, cell phone reception is patchy, at best. It is without electricity and probably will be until January. That is when Carlos Calvadores and wife Joy, expect to finally be able to start earning a salary again, if classes at the primary school where they teach resume.
“We’re really grateful for this, thank you. We still have our house but now have a lot of uncertainty in our lives. This will help our family.”
Carlos asks to be photographed with his parcel. Their situation is a little brighter than that of their neighbours, who lost their source of income when Haiyan washed their rice and vegetable fields away, smashed their fishing boats and blew over coconut and banana plantations.
We survived the typhoon but will die of hunger
The NCCP/ACT Alliance convoy of three trucks the convoy of three trucks set off early to make the six hour journey to the spot the typhoon made landfall. Access to remote areas is continually improving but the roads are rough. The convoy takes a mountain pass that is badly potholed, being repaired or - closer to ground zero – was stripped away by the typhoon waves. One vehicle has minor mechanical problems and another gets a flat tyre. At the towns, the vehicles must weave through the mounds of debris, over-turned vehicles and building crumbled buildings to reach distribution points.
The convoy is under armed guard from Philippine army reservists. One convoy was hijacked a week ago. The likelihood now is remote but they take the precaution.
Entering towns, people call out that they need food and drinking water. Children shout ‘relief, relief’ and ‘go, go’ as a truck passes. Cries for help are painted on the road for aircraft and vehicles. One sign says that people survived the typhoon but will die of hunger.
In built-up towns, debris is everywhere among ruined buildings, with people trying to salvage what they can and hope for assistance from outside for their next meal.
The ACT Alliance appeal is funded to 30 percent. However, it needs full funding to meet the needs of the nearly 300,000 people ACT Alliance members plan to assist.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Packages of Relief – and Love
Working until 2am, scores of volunteers weigh rice and dried beans, count tins of sardines, packets of biscuits and bottles of cooking oil before carefully packing food parcels destined for families devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
It is a daunting task: fill an entire truck with 11kg relief packages, each put together by hand. In spite of the late finish, work resumes at first light in the small compound of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), in Manila.
With the roar of trains passing nearby every few minutes and in the heat of an airless warehouse, volunteers measure out portions of rice. Outside in the compound, others stuff plastic shopping bags beneath bunting hung up to celebrate the NCCP’s 50th anniversary. Typhoon Haiyan has put a damper on the party and tomorrow’s (FRIDAY) celebrations will be low-key, out of respect for those who lost their lives.
Around midday, the last of the 1700 parcels for families of up to seven travels down the human chain to be hauled onto a truck. And with a cheer from the volunteers, the truck leaves the gate, its cargo destined for the eastern island province of Samar where the typhoon made landfall. It follows two previous trucks bearing a total of 3300 parcels, all of which have been distributed to families most in need.
The combination of high winds, huge volume of rainwater and sea surges on November 8 left Samar badly affected. Across the entire length of its route, Haiyan hit some 11.5 million Filipinos including over half a million forced from their homes, according to the United Nations.
NCCP is the Philippines’ member of ACT Alliance, a network of church-related emergency and development organisations, and one of five organisations taking part in a US$14m ACT appeal for relief work. ACT Alliance has set up a coordination office in Manila and will take part in UN cluster meetings over the coming weeks.
A helping hand for survivors
Khristianne Lineses not only oversees the volunteers but takes seriously his role to motivate them. His enthusiasm is boundless. “Of course, I want to help the volunteers enjoy what they’re doing. It’s not only that they are here to help pack, they are our partners. Just as the people affected are not just beneficiaries, they are our fellows, our brethren.”
NCCP expanded its existing relief stockpiles in response to the severity of the typhoon and urges continued financial support from donors. “The destruction is greater than we can accommodate. Goodness, it’s hard for us. But NCCP goes to the areas that might not get visited because they’re remote or in the interior,” Lineses said.
Lineses says already some food suppliers are taking advantage of the desperate need for food and are hiking up the price of commodities. With large storage facilities, they have the upper hand. “Private companies and multinationals can ask whatever price they want.”
In spite of this, Lineses stays firm to the commitment of NCCP. “Our vision is to help people in need and give them enough to continue their lives. With a week’s worth of food, they can concentrate on re-building their homes and families. A big bag gives them time to sustain their needs for the coming week. We know recovery is a long process.”
Two nurses, Innah Abesamiss and Cyrire Agor, came straight from night shifts at hospital to spend their day off packing at the compound. “Nurses don’t earn much in the Philippines and we can’t help financially but this is what we can give at the moment: our time and our energy,” Abesamiss says.
With them are scores of young Carmenite missionaries who answered NCCP’s call for help. “It is our way of standing in solidarity with the people who we know are really suffering. Thanks for the invitation to help,” Sister Rosie says.
Filipino culture specifically promotes the idea of lending a hand in tough times.
Minnie Anne Calub, who heads the NCCP emergency programme, says the church networks run deep in the Philippines. “Whenever we have an emergency, we call on member churches, church youth organisations and their networks, as well as ecumenical connections – often using social media - for volunteers.” They also have good relations with the Roman Catholic church too.
Her eldest daughter, Trianne Calub, 17, came after school to help fill the bags. “It’s very inspiring to see all these people,” Minnie Anne Calub says of the team. “It gives us inspiration that despite the lean staff of our secretariat, we have a vast number of volunteers and networks willing to help.”
It will take around 18 hours for the trucks to arrive in Samar by road and ferry. Already Calub has started negotiating with an airline to fly the next relief packages out. The task of assembling the next 5000 packs has already begun.
15 November 2013
Spotlight on Developers
Thanks to government evacuation only 7 people were killed in their region. However, 37,947 houses were totally destroyed, along with livelihoods. They report widespread damage especially along the coast. Developers has requested help for an estimated 24,650 people in 14 coastal and farming communities where 94-98% of homes were damaged or destroyed. We are nearly there - but would like to give them more help to buy corrugated iron roofing for approximately 2,000 homes.
Donations to the Philippines Typhoon Appeal can be made:
• On line and by direct deposit
• By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72
• By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140