Monday, 3 November 2014

Typhoon Haiyan - One year on

I am leaving shortly for the Philippine Red Cross led press conference where the Secretary General, Gwen Pang, will give an overview of the work done by the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement since the devastating Super Typhoon struck one year ago.
On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines and was marked as the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall in recorded history. The typhoon tore through the Central Visayas region with 300kph winds and heavy rain, triggering floods and mudslides and causing tsunami-like storm surges that destroyed coastal villages and towns.


Powerful winds, heavy rain, and tsunami-like storm surges caused by Haiyan wiped out entire coastal villages and inland towns, affecting more than 16 million people, forcing some four million away from their homes, and killing 6,300. More than 1.1 million families had their homes damaged or destroyed, while countless others had their crops, livestock, and belongings swept away. Hospitals and health facilities, schools and day care centres, water systems, power lines and telecommunications channels were torn apart. Roads, airports and seaports suffered heavy damage, cutting off entire communities from much-needed relief assistance.


The Philippine Red Cross’ response to Typhoon Haiyan was immediate, and with the international call for support from the Philippine government, the entire Red Cross Red Crescent Movement came together to further strengthen the National Society’s efforts. In the first four or so months following the typhoon, focus of the response was largely in fulfilling food, emergency shelter, healthcare and medical services, access to safe water, improved sanitation and essential household needs. With time, emphasis moved from emergency towards recovery efforts in support of those affected by the disaster

The Philippine Red Cross responded quickly to the emergency needs of the population largely in fulfilling food, emergency shelter, healthcare and medical services, access to safe water, improved sanitation and essential household needs.A typical distribution of CGI sheeting and shelter repair kits in Bantayan 2 weeks after the typhoon. This program was supported by Swiss Red Cross. Photo; Bob McKerrow

One year after Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines, tens of thousands of families whose livelihoods were devastated are returning to work with the support of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Almost 30,000 households have so far received cash grants of up to USD 220 as part of the Philippine Red Cross’s three-year USD 360 million recovery plan which will support 500,000 people across Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Panay and Palawan islands.

Pigs, goats, chickens and stock for convenience or ‘sari-sari’ stores are among the most popular items being bought by Haiyan survivors as part of the livelihoods programme.[i]

Initial data shows farming, rearing livestock and setting up local convenience shops are the top three income-generators for those who have received Red Cross support.[ii]

“Kick-starting livelihoods is key to the long term recovery of disaster-hit communities and we have made this a priority in our work, as well as housing,” said Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Richard Gordon. “One year after Haiyan robbed so many families of their income, we are seeing people return to work and others setting up new businesses.”

Peanut butter production, candle making, and turning truck tyres into kitchen kit are also among the micro-enterprises that have been set up by entrepreneurs using the grants.

Six million workers saw their livelihoods either wiped out or damaged by the disaster – of which 2.6 million were living on or below the poverty line before the typhoon[iii].

Vocational training such as sustainable farming techniques, hog rearing, book keeping, arithmetic and advice on how to diversify and grow businesses is also part of the Red Cross support package.

Father-of-three and rice farmer Jessie Lape Jnr, from Luca in Ajuy, Panay, said: “The typhoon wiped out our crops and we had nothing to harvest – it was a desperate time. But the livelihood support has changed everything - I had the money to buy seeds, repair tools and now I have crop insurance. I can sleep easier knowing we are in a better position when the next typhoon hits.”

Since Haiyan devastated the region, PRC together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been on the ground supporting hundreds of communities. Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies from around the world are also working across the country as part of the typhoon recovery effort.

More than 1.3 million people were provided with emergency relief in the aftermath and one year on, the Red Cross’s long term recovery plan is targeting some of the most vulnerable typhoon survivors. 

A Philippine Red Cross progressive core shelter and latrine in Palawan is an example of building back safer and lifting the standard of hygiene. These shelters in northern Palawan are funded and supported by Swiss Red Cross. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Building back safer shelters and community training on construction practices are a central part of the plan, which places resilience and risk-reduction at its heart.  Courses for masons and carpenters are being held and more than 6,500 fishermen have been provided with cash to buy or repaidamaged boats.

Almost 6,100 houses have been rebuilt and in the next 15 months, 40,000 families will have received safer homes. More than 23,000 households have also received roofing sheets to repair their homes.  A total of 192 classrooms have been repaired or rebuilt so far and rural health facilities are also being restored.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said: “Recovery is well under way but there are still humanitarian needs on the ground and we are working across 400 communities (barangays) to ensure people get the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

Thanks to IFRC for access to this information.

For b-roll, photo galleries, case studies and more details on Philippine Red Cross recovery programme, go to

I can recommend this link:

 Spokespeople are also available for interview.

For further information:

In Philippines:

·         Robert Gonzaga, communications manager, PRC

Tel: +63 909 687 8872

·         Kate Marshall, communications delegate, IFRC

Tel: +63 998 960 6287 or +63 928 904 7115

Email:; Twitter: @kateamarshall

·         Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, communication coordinator, ICRC

Tel: +63 918 907 2125

In Geneva:

·         Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Senior Communications Officer, IFRC

Mobile: +41 79 213 24 13   Email:

·         Ewan Watson, public relations officer, ICRC

Tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70

Email:, Twitter: @EWatsonICRC  

[i] Based on IFRC data from 13,047 conditional cash grant beneficiaries – October 19 2014

[ii] Based on IFRC data from 13,047 conditional cash grant beneficiaries – October 19 2014


No comments: