Six months after Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) devastated parts of the Central Philippines on 8 November, the humanitarian situation remains fragile but has stabilized across the affected regions largely because of the humanitarian response, coupled with survivors’ remarkable resilience. In the current early recovery phase of the response, millions of people still require urgent assistance. Humanitarians’ priorities are to help restore livelihoods and ensure people whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged have adequate shelter.
Basic emergency shelter needs were met in the initial response to the disaster. However, millions of affected people live in inadequate shelter. Over 5,000 of the most vulnerable families still living in evacuation centers and tent cities require continued support to ensure they receive basic services, such as water and education, as well as assistance to secure a livelihood and durable housing solution. The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is helping to ensure Government-built bunkhouses, which serve as transitional shelter for nearly 20,000 people, meet acceptable standards. The vast majority of survivors whose homes were destroyed or damaged have begun to rebuild, but most need support to complete construction. To support this self recovery and help people to build back safer, 133,000 households have received tools and other materials, as well as training – including to mitigate storm risks. Support for an additional 380,000 is critical.
Humanitarians are working with the Government to ensure clarity on policies related to rebuilding, including on no-dwelling zones, disbursements of financial assistance to local authorities and the apparent shortage of suitable land for resettlement, and helping to ensure appropriate communication with affected people.
Rebuilding livelihoods is a critical challenge in the early recovery phase of the response. Of the almost six million workers affected by the typhoon, 2.6 million were already living at or near the poverty line before Haiyan. Over 44 million coconut trees were damaged or destroyed by the typhoon, affecting one million farmers in the Eastern Visayas region alone. Once planted, coconut seedlings take 6 to 8 years to become fully productive. Nearly two-thirds of fishing communities lost their productive assets, with 10,000 mainly small-scale fishing boats lost or destroyed and 20,000 damaged. Cash-for-work and emergency employment has been critical in the first six months of the response to sustain affected families and pump funds into devastated economies. Emergency employment programmes have focused on debris clearance of fallen coconut trees, waste management, and the repair and restoration of critical community facilities.
To support authorities’ efforts to restore livelihoods, humanitarians are shifting their focus to skills and enterprise development support, including alternative livelihood activities being developed in consultation with communities, while continuing critical cash-for-work programmes. Ongoing activities include programming to help small-scale coconut farmers build alternative livelihoods through intercropping, crop diversification and livestock/poultry raising. Partners work with the authorities to replace fishing gear and other maritime livelihood inputs and provide boat-building training.
The HCT is concerned about the potential for a significant humanitarian crisis during the imminent cyclone season. Coastal areas of Eastern Samar (Region VIII) affected by Haiyan are critically short of evacuation centers. The potential El Niño phenomenon could result in more severe weather, according to international meteorological agencies. People’s fear of future storms hampers psycho-social recovery.
The risk of disease outbreaks, so far largely contained, remains a major concern and must be mitigated. From January to mid-March, ten people died from dengue fever in the Visayas regions, while there were 2,791 probable and suspected cases reported; under-reporting outside of cities is likely. Chikungunya virus is also prevalent. With the main dengue season expected to begin in July, funds are urgently needed to sustain progress on vector-borne disease control, as well as preparedness. Measles outbreaks are also a serious threat to children, with 17 cases reported in Tacloban in the first two weeks of April, including some in a bunkhouse. To meet the backlog in immunization, efforts are underway to repair or rebuild health facilities and procure vaccines.
II. Required funding
- The Typhoon Haiyan Strategic Response Plan calls for US$788 million to deliver both humanitarian assistance and programming linked to Government-led early recovery efforts. Donors’ generous support for the emergency phase of the plan made the stabilization of the humanitarian situation possible. Launched in December, the plan is 56 per cent funded as of 2 May. Funds are urgently needed for programming that is needed to consolidate the gains.
III. Key achievements in the first six months
In support of Government-led efforts during the emergency phase of the response, humanitarians provided more than four million people with food assistance, 44,000 families with seeds and 80,000 with fertilizer in time to plant ahead of the March/April rice harvest, which was expected to yield enough to feed 800,000 people for a year.
Educational materials were distributed to 500,000 children, while 132,000 children benefited from 1,320 temporary learning sites.
Three million people (560,000 households) received basic emergency shelter materials, such as tents and tarpaulins, while 133,000 households received durable roofing materials, tools and other materials needed to rebuild their homes. In addition, 88,000 households received either additional construction materials, such as coco lumber and amakan wall matting, or cash to help pay for such things as carpenters.
More than 50,000 families received solar lanterns that help light up areas without electricity and minimize protection risks, including theft and sexual and gender-based violence, which thrive in the dark. Women-Friendly Spaces set up in evacuation centers, tent cities and affected communities provide critical information, including on genderbased violence
A major health response was coordinated across affected areas mitigating the high risk of disease, while 308,000 children under 5 years of age were screened for malnutrition and 390 of them received life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Over 108,000 children were immunized for measles in typhoon affected communities. To prevent maternal and child mortality 103 reproductive health medical missions have been conducted reaching more than 14,500 pregnant and lactating women.
Humanitarians are supporting the Philippine government’s Free Mobile Civil Registration project to help individuals obtain lost civil records and legal documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates. In April, at least 43,000 people were assisted, allowing them access to state welfare, education, and employment.
As of mid-April, 118,000 people were provided with immediate short-term employment, livelihood support and services, including skills training and micro-enterprise support.
Nearly two-thirds of these workers participated in short-term emergency employment and cash-for-work activities across the affected areas, which stimulated local economies and restored purchasing power. Workers were engaged in the repair of public infrastructure and provided with livelihood support, including skills training and micro-enterprise and small business support.
Debris clearance contributed to the restoration of hundreds of schools, health clinics, hospitals and barangay/municipal halls.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.