Typhoon Haiyan 6 months on: Women-led activities support 163,000 people

Six months have passed since typhoon Haiyan struck The Philippines, affecting over 14 million people. Most of the infrastructure has now been restored and the majority of debris has been cleared, but food security and the restoration of livelihoods, particularly fishing and agriculture are still a priority.

In partnership with a number of great local organisations, we have already supported more than 163,000 people in Leyte, northern Cebu and Eastern Samar, focusing on the most vulnerable. In the first three months, communities told us they urgently needed basic items including food, shelter repair kits and hygiene kits. ActionAid believes that basic needs are basic rights, so we prioritised meeting these needs, and linking to longer term resilience. The focus has more recently moved towards the longer term recovery process, including addressing trauma from the disaster and reviving livelihoods.

How have we supported communities so far?

As in many other disasters, women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities were worst affected after typhoon Haiyan, so it was critical to make sure that they were prioritised. Since day one we have worked closely with the worst affected people to ensure that they receive the right support and have a say in what happens. One way that we have done this is by supporting women from the affected communities to lead the response in their own villages. Women-led groups have identified needs, selected beneficiaries, procured necessary items, lead the distributions, managed budgets and monitored the processes in their own villages. This system not only ensures that the needs of the most vulnerable are addressed, but empowers communities to make decisions that affect their circumstances, with women at the helm whose voices otherwise may not have been heard.

On top of the more obvious needs such as shelter and jobs, many concerns amongst communities have arisen around violence against women, disaster management policies, and rehabilitation schemes. So part of our response is also addressing these important issues by collating a report at the community level to amplify the voices of the most vulnerable and lobby governments and authorities.

Our support to over 163,000 people over 6 months includes:

  • Food packages to +63,000 people

  • Shelter repair kits (wood, nails, hammers, iron sheets, tarpaulins etc.) to +5,900 families

  • Hygiene kits/water and sanitation facilities to +66,000 people

  • Healthcare centre repair – benefitting +3,900 families

  • Cash for work (e.g. debris clearance) to +14,500 people

  • Fishing boats and equipment to +13,500 people

  • Farming tools & seeds to +1,388 individuals

  • Kitchen gardens for + 5,400 people

  • Livelihoods training (in kitchen gardening; climate resilience and sustainable agriculture; & marketing produce for sale) – over 900 people

  • Psychosocial support (volunteers trained to provide support to address trauma through discussion groups and recreational activities) – approx. 7,000 people

(N.B. many people in affected communities have received more than one type of support listed above)

What next?

As well as continuing our response, over the next two years we will also be working with the Filipino government and Haiyan survivors to make sure that the affected communities are involved in the reconstruction and rehabilitation planning process, and the views of the poorest and marginalised people are considered.

The Philippines is extremely prone to floods, storms, and other natural hazards, so we want to make sure that communities are better able to cope in any future disaster. That’s why we plan to support families with the materials and skills needed to build disaster resilient shelters, and work with both communities and local government units to develop disaster preparedness plans.

by Lois Appleby
International team
Information Officer, International Humanitarian Action & Resilience Team