On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (Yolanda) made landfall on Guiuan, in the province of Eastern Samar in the Eastern Visayas region. As the typhoon swept through the central Philippines, it caused extensive damage to houses, livelihoods and infrastructure. Government figures estimate that the typhoon affected 14.1 million people and left 4.1 million displaced. An estimated 102,000 people were in evacuation centres and more than 1.1 million houses were damaged, about half of them completely destroyed. As of January 7th 2013, the confirmed death toll is 6,183 (NDRRMC 2014/01/07, OCHA 2013/12/30).
The impact of Typhoon Yolanda followed a relatively clear geographical pattern. Among the worst hit areas were the east coast of Leyte and the south coasts of Samar and Eastern Samar in the Eastern Visayas region, which were hit by the tidal surge. In the inland areas of Leyte and the Western coast of Samar in the Eastern Visayas region there was significant damage as a result of extreme winds. In areas in the direct vicinity of the typhoon path in Central and Western Visayas, strong winds also caused damage in coastal areas of northern Cebu, Panay, and Coron (MCNA 2013/12/20).
Experts estimate the typhoon was among the strongest ever to make landfall. The Philippines is considered to be among the world’s most disaster-prone countries (WB 2013). In 2012, the Philippines had the highest number (2,385) of natural disaster fatalities anywhere in the world (CRED 2012). Recent successive emergencies in the Philippines include the outbreak of fighting in Zamboanga City and Basilan (Mindanao province) on 9 September and the 7.2 magnitude Bohol earthquake on 15 October, which put a significant strain on the already overstretched capacities of many agencies in the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) (OCHA 2013/11/07).
On 9 November, the Philippine government accepted the UN offer of international assistance. Local government authorities have been leading the humanitarian response in the typhoon-affected areas with additional support being mobilised by the national government and the HCT through the Cluster Coordination Mechanism. As response is shifting to recovery, the humanitarian community’ has developed a Strategic Response Plan covering 12 months from the date of the disaster. The Government has launched on 16 December the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) to guide the recovery and reconstruction of the economy, lives, and livelihoods in the affected areas.