As typhoon season commences, thousands of people in need of durable shelter

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More than 6,000 people were killed and 4 million people lost their homes when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November. Houses were flattened and schools, health centres, and other infrastructure were left severely damaged.

Six months on, Medair has assessed that communities are having little option but to “build back worse”. Many people do not have adequate construction knowledge and are salvaging poor materials, such as corroded iron sheeting and untreated coconut lumber, to build shelters which are flimsy and weak. "We are working in an area prone to typhoons, so it is crucial that the houses we build will withstand these conditions,” said Miriam Lopez, Medair’s Shelter Advisor. “At a psychosocial level it is important for people who receive these homes to know that their houses are strong enough. Even though the spirit of the people here is so joyful, many have experienced trauma. It is a huge ordeal to lose your home. For a family to know that their house is now safe and secure, that it is strong enough to withstand the storms here, gives them peace of mind."

Medair is working in Dulag on Leyte Island to build sturdy shelters for 3,000 people who were left homeless by the deadly typhoon. Using quality materials, Medair is training communities on “build back better” construction techniques, while employing local engineers, architects, and carpenters to ensure that the design of the homes is robust enough to withstand future storms.

Hurricane strapping attached to the base of roofs stops them from coming off during strong winds, and high-quality wood and galvanised iron sheets protect roofs from rot and rust.

Medair is also distributing tarpaulins to health centres and schools to be used as temporary roofing and walls. As a result, more children are able to attend classes as they can study in a safer environment and are more protected from the weather. “The houses that we are constructing will reduce the need for families to rebuild after seasonal typhoons,” said Constantino Rago, Medair’s Project Manager. “We have also been using high-quality materials that will not only reduce the impact of future disasters, but help prevent the deterioration of people’s homes in the longer term.”

For media:

Please contact: Abigail Woodcock, Press Relations Officer (English),, +41 (0)21 694 84 72 or +41 (0)78 635 30 95.
For inquiries and interviews in The Philippines, please contact Sophie Niven, Communications Officer (English), +63 (0) 928 302 2304.

Photos are available on our photo library. All images should be credited to Medair. Please click here.
All figures taken from the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster’s most recent report, dated 11 April.

Medair’s Response

Medair responded within 48 hours to the November 2013 crisis and was one of the first relief organisations in Leyte to build semi-permanent shelters.

600 shelters built, providing homes to 3,000 people
600 toolkits distributed 5,000 hygiene kits, including soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, provided to families to help with sanitation and hygiene
Health kits, including antibiotics and clean syringes, provided to health centres to support the health care for 10,000 people for three months
Three health clinics refurbished to enable people to access basic health services

Medair also worked with Drone Adventures, a non-profit organisation that promotes the humanitarian use of drones, to create maps of typhoon-devastated areas. It distributed the maps for free to communities to help them coordinate and better plan relief efforts. For more information, click here.

For more information about Medair's activities in The Philippines and an overview of Medair’ financial supporters for this programme, click here.

Medair is a member of the global Integral Alliance, a network that is committed to increasing the capacity and quality of a united disaster response among partnering humanitarian organisations.

Thank you to the generous private donors, foundations, and institutional funding partners whose gifts are making Medair’s life-saving relief activities in The Philippines possible.