Half a year after the worst storm to ever make landfall hit the Visayan islands in the Philippines, ShelterBox is still aiding Filipino families whose lives and livelihoods were shattered on 8 November 2013.
Typhoon Haiyan was a statistical and logistical nightmare. 14 million people faced its fury, and over 6,000 of them lost their lives. In the aftermath over a million homes lay destroyed or damaged, with 3.4 million people displaced and homeless. Communications and power lines had been severed, with roads, ports and airports unusable.
Six months have passed since the typhoon, during which more than 100 ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) volunteers have worked in shifts to deliver aid to over 7,000 families, many of them in remote island communities. Almost 6,800 received tents, but in its most complex-ever response to a natural disaster ShelterBox also provided other non-food items including 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes.
This video highlights ShelterBox’s disaster relief work there over the past few months. It introduces Marillio and her family who were the first to receive ShelterBox aid and includes a special message from the Mayor of Santa Fe, Kinatarcan island, to all those who donated in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan:
Now the need for emergency shelter has diminished, ShelterBox is turning its attention to providing other types of aid that are more suited to the current need, such as kits containing tarpaulins, fixings and tools, helping families to repair their homes in this rainy and humid climate. This ability to be flexible and ‘think outside the box’ to meet different circumstances was a strategy established by the charity in 2011.
‘How could we turn our backs when there is so much still to do to help these families rebuild their lives and their homes?’ said ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace. ‘Our generous donors have given ShelterBox the resources and the mandate to continue, so we are responding by adapting the practical help we offer.’
Emergency and recovery phases blurred
Alison visited the Philippines herself in February to see work in progress, and to meet beneficiaries, officials and partner organisations. She vividly recalls the utter devastation, both in urban and offshore communities.
‘In circumstances like these the end of an ‘emergency’ phase and the beginning of ‘recovery’ become blurred,’ explained Alison. ‘All we have found is families caught somewhere between the two. And, quite frankly, definitions are less important than the humanitarian imperative to focus on what families actually need. Those needs are changing, but there are still so many ways we can help. Families may be repairing or rebuilding their homes, but for all there are still echoes everywhere of the devastation wrought on 8 November.’
Toby Ash, Project Coordinator, is in the Philippines now, heading up ShelterBox’s ongoing response, liaising with local officials and managing partnerships with other aid providers.
‘There has been visible progress, and you have to admire the resilience of the Filipino people in recovering from such a devastating event,’ added Toby. ‘The Philippines is a country where nature’s beauty and brutality sit side by side. The sad reality is that ShelterBox is sometimes called upon to give a helping hand to the country several times a year after extreme weather events and earthquakes. But we remain deeply committed to protecting the most weak and vulnerable here, through thick and thin.’