Success of Philippines aid effort in doubt three months after Haiyan: IOM

Report
from International Organization for Migration
Published on 07 Feb 2014 View Original

Philippines - Three months after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda devastated much of the Central Philippines, IOM is calling for an urgent global refocusing of attention on the long-term recovery effort, in order to build on the successful emergency response.

The agency’s funding needs for its six-month programme appeal of USD 57.6 million are only 30 per cent met, and Chief of Mission Marco Boasso today warned that “unless we put long-term measures in place for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods, we will end up leaving people worse off than before the tragedy.”

His call comes amid a growing realization that failure to provide durable solutions will result in people “building back worse” if materials and technical assistance do not arrive. “Difficult decisions have to be made so that the hundreds of thousands of people in limbo can get on with their lives, rebuild their homes, find jobs and send their children to school,” he noted.

A massive, complicated, but largely successful emergency operation, greatly facilitated by the resilience and dynamism of the Filipino people and government agencies, is coming to a close.

The international community and Philippine government have assisted over four million people with food, water, cash, healthcare, shelter, education, rehabilitation, hygiene kits and other relief items.

Support for community radio and other media has meant that distributions have gone smoothly, and that beneficiaries have a mechanism whereby they can discuss their problems and suggest solutions.

IOM alone has distributed almost 65,000 emergency shelter kits (plastic sheeting and tools), more than 5,000 recovery shelter kits (corrugated iron sheets, tools and technical training), and over 90,000 non-food items across the affected area.

Its camp management teams continue capacity-building work, training government staff to respond and react to this and future disasters, while IOM medical teams have already seen over 12,000 patients.

The Displacement Tracking Matrix that IOM employs during disasters has allowed it to take the pulse of communities in evacuation sites, gathering and analyzing critical information and informing the overall relief effort. IOM is also active in the protection sector, warning people of the dangers of human trafficking and trying to reach those who may have been tricked into exploitative work.

Yet massive needs remain. Some 1.2 million homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm and active schools are still being used as evacuation centres. Some 33 million coconut trees have been lost, crippling one of the country’s foremost industries.

Almost six million workers saw their livelihoods destroyed or disrupted. Some 30,000 fishing-boats were damaged or destroyed. And a fresh mini-response was launched two weeks ago when a new typhoon dumped heavy rainfall onto areas recovering from Haiyan, which claimed over 6,000 lives when it hit on November 7th.

“The data show that swift action has to be taken on the funding and planning side if we are to build on initial successes and avoid failure,” says Boasso. “It is imperative that we get all the most vulnerable into long-term shelter and that we work out sustainable relocation for everyone living in zones that are currently or potentially hazardous.”

“If that doesn’t happen we will be left with ongoing displacement and vulnerable communities living exposed to the elements,” he warned. “This region is highly prone to extreme weather events and earthquakes so we must ensure that people are in a constant state of readiness to react and respond appropriately and are supported to build back safer, stronger homes.”

Although shops and markets have reopened in Tacloban and other towns across the affected Visayas region, vast numbers of people are still surviving on relief food, sometimes supplemented by short-term, cash-for-work programmes, which pay 200 pesos (USD 4.40) per day.

Father-of-six Francis Gaspean lives nine kilometres from the centre of Tacloban and has found just five days’ work in the past month. “I can’t afford the time or the transport into town, so I have spent my days fixing up my house and helping to look after the children,” he says.

Marike Malate, an 18-year-old widow, lives in a rebuilt wooden house yards from the shore. She reports that she finds it difficult to get powdered milk for her three-month-old, as she does not produce enough breast milk for the growing baby. “I am filling her with water until she is old enough for solid food,” she says.

While the people of the Central Philippines have faced the tragedy with a spirit of calm and optimism that has impressed the world, there are signs that their mood may be changing after three months living in temporary shelters with few basic amenities.

Charmaine Villa calms her nine-month-old daughter outside a wood and plastic-sheeting dwelling that her brother-in-law built for her, her invalid husband and her parents. It is located on the grounds of the “Astrodome”, the city convention centre which sheltered thousands during Typhoon Haiyan.

“We have no income,” she reports. “My husband’s asthma and heart condition have got much worse since the tragedy. Now I just stay at home. Of course we hope for the best but, if anything, things are getting worse for us.”

For more information please contact

Joe Lowry
IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok
Email: jlowry@iom.int
Tel:. +66818708081

or

Marco Boasso
IOM Manila
Email: mboasso@iom.int
Tel:. +639178485306

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