Recovery efforts expand as people try to rebuild their lives following Haiyan (30 03 2015 - Operational Update - The Philippines)

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In the Philippines, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Typhoon Haiyan recovery operation in the Central Visayas and Palawan is targeting 500,000 vulnerable people as they restore their homes and livelihoods. The operation, one of the largest and most complex yet mounted by the movement, has 17 in-country partners supporting the work of the Philippine Red Cross, including the IFRC and ICRC. See the latest recovery programme targets and achievements (March 2015).

At the end of last year thousands of people in the same regions were badly hit by two typhoons, Hagupit and Seniang, which brought landslides and some of the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in some areas. Luckily, the population heeded the lessons of Typhoon Haiyan and government warnings to evacuate, with well over one million people pre-emptively sheltering in evacuation centres or secure private dwellings.

Since April last year, when the operation moved to early recovery, more than 51,300 homes have been built or repaired and 55,320 households have received cash to buy livestock or start a business. In other key sectors, the Haiyan operation is also rehabilitating and equipping health clinics, restoring latrines and sanitation facilities in schools and repairing 388 classrooms destroyed or damaged by the typhoon. Improving health and providing volunteer training is a clear priority for the Philippine Red Cross, which is training community health volunteers in Community Based Health and First Aid as well running hygiene promotion activities in schools and communities. The programmes also include sessions on prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases, such as dengue and diarrhoea, many of which become more common with the arrival of the monsoon.

Building Back Safer

Repairing or re-building housing and helping to restore people’s lost livelihoods is a significant part of the Red Cross recovery programme. While emergency shelter materials such as tarpaulins are still needed, support for self-recovery is fast becoming the priority. The vast majority of families have already started rebuilding and repairing their homes, however most of them require help. We provide shelter and tool kits to support that process. The focus is not only on providing materials but also on technical help to ensure homes are built back safer and stronger. The Government has begun constructing bunkhouses for people living in evacuation centres or informal settlements. Building Back Safer is an important message of the shelter programme that has been reinforced through community workshops and training. All new homes are designed to be more resistant to typhoons and incorporate simple design features that make roofs and foundations stronger. Beneficiaries who are able to contribute their labour to the construction process, and Red Cross provides materials and skilled workers. In all, the Haiyan operation has provided work and skills enhancement for at least 5,000 people, many of whom have been able to find work on other projects. Some skilled workers are now employing others and passing on vital knowledge about safer building techniques to others.

Strengthening Livelihoods

Tens of thousands of livelihoods beneficiaries received the equivalent of USD220 to buy livestock, equipment or goods for a nominated project. While the majority in rural areas opt for farm animals and seed crops that can be grown and sold at the local market, the more adventurous, especially women, have set up small businesses selling produce or cooked items. The Red Cross is now documenting their experiences in a project called Stories for Change that will be published later this year.

Soon the next phase of livelihoods support will see Philippine Red Cross partner with technical colleges to offer hundreds of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a range of courses designed to improve their chances of employment. In addition, Red Cross will also support up to 100 communities in income-generating projects and initiatives.

Follow @philredcross for updates on Philippine Red Cross preparedness and response actions.