Typhoon Haiyan was the most powerful storm ever recorded. Due to its severity, but also due to peoples’ vulnerabilities und unpreparedness, it caused extensive damage to life, housing, livelihoods and infrastructure. The high levels of vulnerabilities that pre-dominated the area already before the typhoon facilitated the disastrous impact of the event. These vulnerabilities include the location of shelters in high risk areas and their low quality building material, the general lack of health and sanitation facilities, general unemployment and poverty, as well as low preparedness capacities of communities in terms of extreme weather events.
Disaster resistant building techniques are not considered in local building practices. Shelters are designed according to preferences and available financial resources. Land and property rights constitute an additional problem, since the majority of the people are tenants and don’t possess official leasing contracts with the land owners. Settlement of tenants is often verbally agreed upon.
The above described situation of people’s vulnerabilities, along with the existing natural hazards, creates a cycle of poverty that severely hinders the development of Philippine communities. Despite the existing national Disaster Risk Reduction and Management law that addresses preparedness oriented DRR strategies, there is still a lack of operational local DRRM bodies at provincial, municipal and, above all, barangay level. As a consequence to this, the communities are not yet familiar with the approach of disaster prevention and preparedness and instead of assuming own responsibility, they rely on relief deliveries from the government and other NGOs in case of disaster. This attitude is reflected in their mind sets and needs to be addressed through long-termed strategies and actions.
I elaborated an overall Recovery Programme for the Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement with the overall objective to contribute to a safer and healthier living environment and to an improved resilience of the people affected by typhoon Haiyan in Leyte, Cebu and Panay province, Philippines. The specific objective is to ensure that affected communities from different municipalities have recovered from the disaster’s impacts and have strengthened their capacity to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
The intervention follows the strategy outlined in the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Recovery Position Paper and PRC’s Typhoon Yolanda Recovery Plan and “aims to help rebuild safe and resilient communities by identifying and addressing various factors that will help people sustainably rebuild their lives, livelihoods and assets while ensuring that future climate, environmental and disaster related risks are addressed and/or minimized.”
In detail, this means that after the end of the project, the target families will be able to satisfy their basic humanitarian needs in terms of housing, sanitation and hygiene practices. They will have contributed to the clearing and rehabilitation of community infrastructure, a key prerequisite for further development. At the same time, people will have stabilized their economic income and livelihood situation and thus live in safer humanitarian conditions than before the event. Furthermore, people from the target areas will possess better knowledge on how to prepare for and react to disasters: DRR structures in schools and communities will be improved through stronger volunteer networks trained in DRR and PHAST, improved operational and management capacities of the PRC chapter and its staff, as well as intensified linkages and relationships with LGUs and other relevant actors in the area.
The project addresses the sectors of shelter, WASH, rehabilitation of public infrastructure, livelihood, DRR, as well as organizational and capacity development, as integral elements that mutually complement each other. Each sector is of equal importance for the communities in order to achieve secure living conditions and shows strong overlaps with the other sectors. Only when addressed in a holistic way, the resilience of the people living in the target communities can be improved.