Six months after: new houses for Haiyan-affected Filipinos

Iona, a 28-year-old woman with four children, is one of the 4 million Filipinos who lost their house back in November 2013, when the mega typhoon Haiyan hit central Philippines. I met Iona while visiting the affected areas in March this year, as part of my mission to assess progress of the projects funded by the EU.

When the disaster struck, Iona’s house was completely destroyed by the heavy rain and wind. Her family had no option but living next to their destroyed house under salvaged shelter material. She did not have the resources to rebuild the house on her own. The family income depends on seasonal farm labour, providing less than € 2 per day. They do not have land to plant their own crops on which would give them some extra income.

Iona is part of the San Dionisio community (Iloilo) in the coastal area of Panay Island which is remote and hard to reach. The majority of people work in farms as labourers and have only seasonal income. Their houses (made of light materials) were severely or totally damaged by Haiyan, and they have no means to buy materials to rebuild their houses.

With EU funds, CARE Netherlands (CARE NL) offered Iona, and other members of her community, shelter repair material to rebuild her house. Family and community members joined forces for the reconstruction. The new roof is now being constructed in a way so that her family will be protected from further adverse weather conditions. What a joy to hear the thankful words of Iona and see with my own eyes how the solidarity of EU citizens means so much for these people.

Seven new projects funded by the EU are helping Haiyan victims to recover from the disaster. They complement another 12 projects focusing on emergency relief which are now close to completion. The new phase of EU-funded actions aims to help people in early recovery efforts with particular emphasis on increasing their resilience and that of their houses and infrastructure.

The project which Iona is benefitting from is part of the emergency actions and it is led by Action Against Hunger (ACF) Spain working in consortium with CARE Netherlands (CARE NL), Save the Children (STC) Spain and Merlin. Besides providing assistance with shelter solutions, the partners’ actions focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food security, health, and non-food items. Panay and Leyte Island are the implementation areas of these actions.

I was very positively impressed by the work which our partners are leading on the ground. The four members of the consortia are very professional and have extensive experience in collaborating together. They complement each other in their respective expertise: ACF provides WASH, CARE NL shelter repair kits, Merlin health care, STC livelihood support. They are doing a very good job in targeting the most vulnerable communities, and informing and involving beneficiaries during the project implementation.