Kate Marshall for IFRC – WNN Improve It
(WNN/IFRC) Dagami, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH-EASTERN ASIA: Outside a crowded hall in Dagami, Leyte, scores of people are queuing to register with the volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross cash distribution programme. A group of mothers who have each just collected 5,000 pesos ($110 US dollars) chat and share their experiences of the last 100 days since Typhoon Haiyan hit the islands.
The typhoon, one of the most powerful in recorded history, made landfall in the Visayas region of central Philippines. 16 million people were affected, 1 million homes were damaged or destroyed and over 5 million people saw their livelihoods ruined.
The women from Dagami recall the difficulties they have faced; what it was like to have the roofs ripped from their homes, to go without food and water, to live under a tarpaulin and be soaked to the skin when it rains.
On the positive side, they have been recipients of a massive relief effort but despite this, Evelyn, Golie, Jocelyn and Jenny are really worried about the future. “What will happen to us when the aid stops?,” they ask. Their main concern is being ready for when the next typhoon comes along. Like most survivors, they want a secure income, durable shelter and access to education for their children.
In the last 100 days the Philippine Red Cross reached over 1 million people with emergency relief – cooked meals, dry food rations, non-food household items – and covered nearly a quarter of total shelter needs in the affected area. The Red Cross has also distributed emergency cash grants to almost 50,000 households.
As part of the recovery plan, the challenge now for the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies will be to focus on the recovery needs of survivors particularly in the areas of rebuilding homes and restoring livelihoods.
A recent Philippine Red Cross-led recovery assessment vindicated this approach with a strong recommendation to integrate shelter and livelihood programmes and for better geographic targeting of the poorest areas. Among the recommendations to promote livelihoods were activities to restore the purchasing power of farmers and fishermen, programmes to diversify income sources, and skills training.
For its part, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a 126 million Swiss francs ($139 million US dollars, 102 million Euros) appeal to meet the long term recovery needs of 100,000 families (500,000 people) over the next two years. So far, only 55 per cent of the appeal target has been reached.
Like other tenant farmers who received cash from Red Cross, farm labourer Benjamin Cabriros barely earns enough to support his family of seven. “Life is more difficult now,” he says. “I can’t find a proper job and can only get casual work in the rice fields. Of course I’m worried about the future and how we’re going to eat, but so is nearly everyone else in my barangay (village).”
Like many others, Benjamin has already made basic repairs to his house, but admits they are unlikely to withstand another storm because he lacks the skills to do a good job. He is keen to retrain as a carpenter because they are always in short supply and make good money.
Eric Salve, Philippine Red Cross disaster management service manager, says just as the Haiyan response required the resources of the entire Red Cross movement, so recovery will need a long-term commitment.
“The Philippines is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and they tend to be multiple ones,” he says. “We met our relief target in less than three months. Now we need raise further funding for two to three years of recovery work in shelter and livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, capacity building, health and education. We need to make sure communities are well prepared to face any future disaster.”