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Weathering the Perfect Storm - Lessons Learnt on the ASEAN's Response to the Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

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Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Executive summary

Introduction

Typhoon Haiyan (Philippine name, ‘Yolanda’), made landfall in the Philippines on 8 November 2013. It is considered to be one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in world history, based on maximum wind speed, with a wind gust reaching up to 320 km/hour at its peak.

Haiyan left massive, widespread damage and loss of lives and properties. The last situation update from Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) say that over 16 million people were affected, with more than 4 million displaced. Tallies of the number of people who died reached 6,300, with over 1,000 missing, and causing injuries to more than 28,000. Total cost of damages is estimated at more than USD 142 million.

Haiyan is one of the biggest disasters that the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) responded to, along with the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, and Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Though the number of people killed was less than the mentioned tsunami and cyclone, the gravely affected number is twice as much of that cyclone, and six times more than that of the tsunami.

ASEAN stands in strong solidarity with the Member States affected by disasters. Other ASEAN Member States immediately provided life-saving assistance to the Philippines in the form of personnel support, cash and in-kind contributions — food, water, sanitation and hygiene, health care services and shelter. In addition, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) provided direct assistance to the Philippine National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) operations, with the setting-up of pre-fabricated offices and warehouse, as well as giving relief goods for the affected population like food, water, emergency shelters, and hygiene kits.

It is important for ASEAN to document and disseminate the lessons learnt in conducting emergency response to those affected by the typhoon. Addressing this need for documentation has been raised from several quarters — from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, NDRRMC of the Philippines and the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM).

The scale, impact, and scope of the destruction brought on by Haiyan, and the challenges demanded by the emergency situation, tested the existing procedures and mechanisms in ASEAN. Documenting the experience and drawing-up lessons learnt from the region’s response underscore the imperative to assess the effectiveness of existing processes and Dialogue Partners, ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) members, representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), ASEAN Secretariat, and the AHA Centre.