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Philippines: 1-year on from Typhoon Haiyan, thousands of people still rebuilding lives

7 November 2014 - 6:07am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Philippines

This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson at today’s Palais des Nations press briefing in Geneva.

A year ago tomorrow (8 November) Typhoon Haiyan – one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record anywhere – ran ashore in the central Philippines, causing wide devastation and killing at least 6,300 people. A year on, and the recovery work still goes on. While most of the 4.1 million people who were displaced have either returned home to rebuild, or been relocated, solutions are still needed for some 20,000 people either living in shelters or – in a small number of cases – with host families.

Together with the Philippines Government, UNHCR has brought help over the past year to more than 700,000 of the most vulnerable typhoon survivors, providing vital relief aid including tents, plastic sheets, blankets, hygiene kits, jerry cans, kitchen sets and solar lanterns. Help has also come from the private sector: A Singaporean franchise owner of furniture company IKEA donated mattresses for hospitals, Japan’s UNIQLO provided clothing, while Swedish firm Husqvarna donated chainsaws to clear felled trees that were later used to rebuild homes.

In the early phase of the recovery effort, UNHCR started a free mobile civil registration project to reconstitute lost civil records and issue legal documentation – important so that people can access state benefits. Some 80,000 documents have been issued including birth, marriage, and death certificates. UNICEF will pick up the project and scale up coverage further in the coming months.

UNHCR’s focus today is the situation of the 20,000 people still living in 56 displacement sites across typhoon-affected areas. A recent protection assessment found that people still need help with physical dwellings, water and sanitation, hygiene, as well as land and property issues.

In Tacloban, Eastern Samar and some other areas, local authorities have provided temporary shelters and explained to people that they will have to stay there for two years while the search to find permanent relocation continues. These efforts are complicated by the shortage of suitable and the lack of services to make relocation sustainable.

UNHCR and its partners have been monitoring the situation of the families in the remaining displacement sites. We’ve worked to strengthen the government’s capacity to ensure that basic services are provided and that the rights of the displaced people – including their right to voluntary return or relocation – are respected.

In areas that were immediately impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, UNHCR has since handed over its work to the government, local authorities, NGOs and development organizations.

At the same time, we continue to highlight the urgent need for the Philippines to adopt legislation to protect the rights of internally displaced people - in what is one of the world’s most natural disaster-prone countries. The bill would also provide a much-needed legislative framework to allow state authorities to protect and assist people displaced as a result of the decades-long conflict in the southern Philippines.

The passage of this legislation would be very timely as the country welcomes crucial steps in attaining sustainable peace in the southern Philippines. These steps could pave the way for millions of citizens to rebuild their lives through local settlement, voluntary return or relocation throughout Mindanao.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Tacloban: Keneath Bolisay, +63 915 592 1568 In Manila: Marie Michelle Liquigan, +63 918 920 8765 In Bangkok (regional office), Vivian Tan, +63 818 270 280 In Geneva: Babar Baloch, +41 79 557 9106 END

Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan: one year on

7 November 2014 - 4:59am
Source: Oxfam Country: Philippines

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc across much of the central Philippines. More than 5,000 people were killed and 4 million were forced from their homes.

The disaster delivered a double blow. In the short term, it left more than 14.1 million people in need of immediate, life-saving assistance. But it also pushed millions of poor people further into poverty. Rice crops, coconut trees and fishing boats were wiped out, leaving people struggling to grow food and earn an income.

Thanks to Oxfam’s supporters around the world, we have been able to reach more than 860,000 people.

Our first priority was to provide life-saving assistance, such as clean water, toilets, hygiene kits, and cash to buy food and other essentials. We then began helping people to recover the livelihoods that had been destroyed by the disaster.

One year on from the disaster, the emergency phase of our response has finished. Now our focus is on long term recovery and rehabilitation. One way we’re doing this is by planning how water and sanitation facilities will be managed on a permanent basis. We’re also looking at how people will be able to earn a living.

Water and sanitation for the long term

We are now working with local governments on how they will manage the water supply.

In June, we finished constructing 41 semi-permanent toilets in Tacloban, as well as 41 bathing spaces, water storage and tap stands. We’ve handed the project over to the Tacloban City authorities, who will manage the operation and maintenance of the facilities with the support of local organisations.

In eastern Samar, we have been working to improve water and sanitation facilities in schools. Now, we are installing a new type of permanent toilet that includes hand washing facilities, disabled friendly access and better gender segregation.

Helping people earn a living

The devastation Haiyan caused to people’s livelihoods was immense – it badly affected their ability to work and earn a living. 74% of the fishing communities in areas affected by the storm lost their main source of income.

We provided people with emergency income so they could buy food and other essentials, like clothes and materials to repair their homes or recover their businesses. We’ve supported 107,000 families in the form of cash, vouchers or cash for work.

We also helped provide training and equipment to affected communities in coconut farming, seaweed farming, fishing and rice farming. We also helped repair boats and offered cash for work clearing debris from the community and mangroves, so that families would be able to buy their own new equipment.

Over the coming months, we will develop long-term, sustainable means for people to make a living independently.

Shelter and homes

In the emergency phase of our response, Oxfam provided 4,690 families with emergency materials to repair their houses, such as tarpaulin, tools and nails. Throughout the course of the year we have also helped people build shelters, for example by giving cash and vouchers so people had the money they needed to buy materials and make repairs.

But thousands of people are still living in inadequate shelters, such as tents, damaged houses or temporary shelters provided by the government called bunkhouses.

The government has plans to relocate families who have been made homeless and families living in areas seen as dangerously close to the coast. We are working to make sure that the people affected are sufficiently consulted about these plans, that the new locations have facilities like clean water and electricity, and that people will have the means to make a living.

The issue of shelter is one the government needs to resolve. We’re working with them, to advise and lobby on improvements to their plans.

Next steps: reconstruction and resilience

The emergency phase of our response provided life-saving support to millions. But challenges remain in the transition to long term development.

We continue to work to ensure that:

  • communities are relocated to safe areas and that affected communities are consulted
  • livelihoods and vulnerability to future disasters are taken into consideration
  • the government speeds up adaptation and risk reduction plans across the country.

Funds and technical assistance are available and directly accessible to local governments and communities.

Philippines: Philippines: Typhoon haiyan one year on

7 November 2014 - 4:39am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Philippines

Video: Philippines: Typhoon haiyan one year on

It is one year since Haiyan, the world's worst typhoon, struck central Philippines on 8 November 2013, making landfall with 300 km winds and 5-metre waves. Communities were left without food, electricity, water or any means of contacting their relatives. More than 16 million people were affected. Over 6,300 died and more than 4 million were displaced. An estimated 1.14 million homes were damaged or destroyed.

A year on, survivors are still trying to recover from the unprecedented devastation. While a number of communities have repaired or rebuilt damaged houses - be it from the assistance they received or through their own remarkable efforts - some communities are still in need.

Edmundo Pabello, a farmer from Samar Island in the Philippines, lost his home and crops in the wake of typhoon Haiyan. He vividly recalls the days after the catastrophe, “Our houses here were badly damaged. We didn’t have food right after the typhoon. It was really difficult was several days.”

Given the destruction, he could not go back to farming right away. But on the flip side, the destruction meant a lot of reconstruction was necessary. So he enrolled to be trained as a carpenter. He wanted to rebuild his own storm-resilient home. “I have now made sure that our new house is strong enough. I even bought additional nails to make it sturdy”, he says.

In addition, he saw carpentry as a means to make a living while farming was not yet an option. He and his son were hired as carpenters by the Red Cross to help rebuild storm-resilient houses. “We learned a lot from the typhoon. Our houses were not resilient enough so they were destroyed”.

Over the past year, the ICRC in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross has trained over 560 carpenters on good construction principles for storm-resilient shelters and has built over 3,800 storm-resilient shelters. In addition, ICRC and PRC have also been involved in reconstructing health care facilities, providing medical equipment and supplies. Nearly 3,500 families received cash grants to resume their livelihoods in small businesses, agriculture and livestock, or to start an alternative livelihood activity.

Currently, Edmundo and his family live in his new home that he built himself with his new found skills. Like the rest of his community that mainly relies on farming, he hopes to go back to farming, “we don’t yet have a source of livelihood. But this is just for now because we still haven’t started our farming activities.”

While recovery is well under way, there are still humanitarian needs on the ground to help ensure people get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

Philippines: A year after deadly typhoon, Philippines women weave their magic

6 November 2014 - 11:05pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Philippines

By Roli Ng and Rosemarie Francisco

BASEY/MANILA, Philippines, Nov 7 (Reuters) - A year after one of the world's most powerful storms smashed into the Philippines, a group of women are stitching their lives back together by weaving colourful reeds used in handicrafts sold by the world's top retailers.

Read the full article on Reuters - AlertNet

Philippines: Building back better, safer and stronger

6 November 2014 - 3:30pm
Source: Plan Country: Philippines

Posted by Roger Yates, Plan Humanitarian Director

4 November 2014: One year ago, I flew over northern Cebu with Margareta Wahlström, the UN’s head of disaster risk reduction, to assess the damage Typhoon Haiyan had wreaked across the Philippines.

I still remember her words vividly. Haiyan must serve as a “wake-up call” for countries.

We were travelling by helicopter – one of the only ways to get around – after Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as ‘Yolanda’) hit the Philippines; an unprecedented category 5 storm that affected two-thirds of the country.

From my seat, I had a bird’s eye view of the disaster area - and it was a chilling sight. Houses had been washed away, coconut trees were flattened and mountains upon mountains of rubble could be seen, burying everything from fridges to bodies.

Living between disasters

The typhoon killed more than 6,200 people and affected over 14 million across the 44 provinces. As Humanitarian Director at Plan International, it is unfair to say the Philippines was unprepared for the typhoon. After all, this is a country that literally lives between disasters. Yet, that’s not something the media was or is particularly interested in.

The Philippines was only just getting over one disaster - a magnitude 7.2 earthquake - before this one struck.

It was yet another test to the country’s disaster preparedness measures, which if in place can be 10 times more effective than the response itself.

Did the communities understand the importance of evacuation and the devastating impact a tsunami-like wave could have, rather than being forced to evacuate?

Were the evacuation centres – many of which were schools – built to withstand the strength of this typhoon?

Did communities feel safe and supported? Were they assured that their homes would not be looted while they were away? Were the emotional needs of children accounted for?

The answer, for some communities, was yes. But for many, it was no. Haiyan wiped out many towns across Eastern Samar.

Zero dead, zero missing

Yet, in a few of the communities Plan International had been working with local authorities to drill people in evacuations.

In Balankayan, Eastern Samar, the chart declared “zero dead, zero missing, zero injured” of its 10,226 population. Yet neighbouring towns saw scores killed when the wrong buildings were chosen as evacuation centres or people stayed put.

Although Llorente was spared the most violent clutches of the typhoon, one third of the population still evacuated and followed the tsunami evacuation routes set up by Plan, escaping up a set of stairs to a safety shelter. Once Haiyan had passed, they were able to help their neighbouring communities.

Preparedness works

It proves that preparedness works and it’s imperative that these measures are put in place across the country as the Philippines embarks on its journey to build back better and safer.

For me, I care about the number of casualties from the many typhoons that will and do hit this archipelago. They are not statistics; they are people, families, children and lives to be saved – if appropriate measures, such as stronger roofing, protection against landslides or safer schools, are put in place.

Investing in disaster preparedness can and will save many lives – and for Filipinos, this starts from a young age.

This disaster-prone nation has publically committed to be a role model for safe schools and deliver a strong message to the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015* on the importance of protecting school children and students in their education environment, while Plan actively trains young people on preparing for disasters.

Building a culture of safety

For me and Plan, we have continued to build a culture of safety and to help communities, some we hadn’t previously worked in, to build back stronger and together over the past year. We have also encouraged young people and others to educate communities on the importance of disaster risk reduction and resilient communities.

Working together has been central to Plan’s response, through its ‘Building Back Better’ project in Tacloban City (one of the areas worst affected by Typhoon Haiyan). We have been working with government partners and 6,000 community members to build a disaster-resilient community that can serve as a model for other reconstruction efforts.

’Building Back Better’ means that community recovery efforts result in safer, more resilient buildings and infrastructure.

Yes, people can access safe drinking water and other services but, most importantly, it means working with communities on their recovery journey, involving them as partners in the recovery process, providing emotional support and building knowledge, community spirit and resilience. Things that aren’t seen immediately but can withstand any future challenge.

Mapping disasters

Other measures have also been put in place. 350 elementary and secondary school teachers have been trained on what to do in a disaster and how to prepare them, while 300 community members have been trained on mapping disasters, reducing the risk of disasters as well as climate change adaptation.

It’s only been one year since the world witnessed the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan, yet it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way.

However, this journey is by no means over. I care about these communities too much and I want to see them survive if and when another disaster strikes.

Support Plan's vital recovery work - donate to the Haiyan appeal

Philippines: Philippines: Building back better, safer and stronger

6 November 2014 - 3:30pm
Source: Plan Country: Philippines

Posted by Roger Yates, Plan Humanitarian Director

4 November 2014: One year ago, I flew over northern Cebu with Margareta Wahlström, the UN’s head of disaster risk reduction, to assess the damage Typhoon Haiyan had wreaked across the Philippines.

I still remember her words vividly. Haiyan must serve as a “wake-up call” for countries.

We were travelling by helicopter – one of the only ways to get around – after Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as ‘Yolanda’) hit the Philippines; an unprecedented category 5 storm that affected two-thirds of the country.

From my seat, I had a bird’s eye view of the disaster area - and it was a chilling sight. Houses had been washed away, coconut trees were flattened and mountains upon mountains of rubble could be seen, burying everything from fridges to bodies.

Living between disasters

The typhoon killed more than 6,200 people and affected over 14 million across the 44 provinces. As Humanitarian Director at Plan International, it is unfair to say the Philippines was unprepared for the typhoon. After all, this is a country that literally lives between disasters. Yet, that’s not something the media was or is particularly interested in.

The Philippines was only just getting over one disaster - a magnitude 7.2 earthquake - before this one struck.

It was yet another test to the country’s disaster preparedness measures, which if in place can be 10 times more effective than the response itself.

Did the communities understand the importance of evacuation and the devastating impact a tsunami-like wave could have, rather than being forced to evacuate?

Were the evacuation centres – many of which were schools – built to withstand the strength of this typhoon?

Did communities feel safe and supported? Were they assured that their homes would not be looted while they were away? Were the emotional needs of children accounted for?

The answer, for some communities, was yes. But for many, it was no. Haiyan wiped out many towns across Eastern Samar.

Zero dead, zero missing

Yet, in a few of the communities Plan International had been working with local authorities to drill people in evacuations.

In Balankayan, Eastern Samar, the chart declared “zero dead, zero missing, zero injured” of its 10,226 population. Yet neighbouring towns saw scores killed when the wrong buildings were chosen as evacuation centres or people stayed put.

Although Llorente was spared the most violent clutches of the typhoon, one third of the population still evacuated and followed the tsunami evacuation routes set up by Plan, escaping up a set of stairs to a safety shelter. Once Haiyan had passed, they were able to help their neighbouring communities.

Preparedness works

It proves that preparedness works and it’s imperative that these measures are put in place across the country as the Philippines embarks on its journey to build back better and safer.

For me, I care about the number of casualties from the many typhoons that will and do hit this archipelago. They are not statistics; they are people, families, children and lives to be saved – if appropriate measures, such as stronger roofing, protection against landslides or safer schools, are put in place.

Investing in disaster preparedness can and will save many lives – and for Filipinos, this starts from a young age.

This disaster-prone nation has publically committed to be a role model for safe schools and deliver a strong message to the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015* on the importance of protecting school children and students in their education environment, while Plan actively trains young people on preparing for disasters.

Building a culture of safety

For me and Plan, we have continued to build a culture of safety and to help communities, some we hadn’t previously worked in, to build back stronger and together over the past year. We have also encouraged young people and others to educate communities on the importance of disaster risk reduction and resilient communities.

Working together has been central to Plan’s response, through its ‘Building Back Better’ project in Tacloban City (one of the areas worst affected by Typhoon Haiyan). We have been working with government partners and 6,000 community members to build a disaster-resilient community that can serve as a model for other reconstruction efforts.

’Building Back Better’ means that community recovery efforts result in safer, more resilient buildings and infrastructure.

Yes, people can access safe drinking water and other services but, most importantly, it means working with communities on their recovery journey, involving them as partners in the recovery process, providing emotional support and building knowledge, community spirit and resilience. Things that aren’t seen immediately but can withstand any future challenge.

Mapping disasters

Other measures have also been put in place. 350 elementary and secondary school teachers have been trained on what to do in a disaster and how to prepare them, while 300 community members have been trained on mapping disasters, reducing the risk of disasters as well as climate change adaptation.

It’s only been one year since the world witnessed the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan, yet it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way.

However, this journey is by no means over. I care about these communities too much and I want to see them survive if and when another disaster strikes.

Support Plan's vital recovery work - donate to the Haiyan appeal

Philippines: Habitat for Humanity committed to long term reconstruction one year after Typhoon Haiyan

6 November 2014 - 1:29pm
Source: Habitat for Humanity International Country: Philippines

BANGKOK (November 8, 2014) – Global non-profit shelter organization Habitat for Humanity is progressing with construction of permanent homes at 10 sites in areas severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon that struck the Visayas area of the Philippines one year ago killed 6,300 people and damaged or destroyed more than one million homes, according to government figures.

“We started rebuilding just three months after Typhoon Haiyan struck and currently have close to 1,000 houses completed or under construction. The families who will live in these new houses have been identified at some project sites, with a similar determination process underway at the remaining locations. More funding is needed to continue rebuilding efforts,” said Rick Hathaway, Habitat for Humanity’s Asia-Pacific Vice President.

“Scarcity of suitable land and available construction materials are some of the logistical challenges being faced. However, progress is being made and we know reconstruction is likely to take many years. Habitat for Humanity is committed to supporting affected families in the Visayas long term. Alongside building permanent homes, we are continuing to distribute shelter repair kits to aid the own recovery efforts of families affected by the typhoon,” continued Hathaway.

Construction work is underway at two sites in Cebu province and eight sites in Leyte province.

Habitat started distributing emergency shelter kits just days after Haiyan struck, shifting to shelter repair kits as needs changed. To date, Habitat has supported nearly 28,000 families with emergency shelter and shelter repair kits. Habitat for Humanity has also built temporary classrooms and supported families to develop livelihoods.

“We were too hungry and had to eat coconut flesh for three days,” recalled Babelyn Alon, 30, who fled with her family after Typhoon Haiyan ripped the roof off her house.

Babelyn has been helping Habitat for Humanity to build homes in barangay Maricaban on Bantayan island in Cebu province: “I’m building my house. I’m doing it for my kids so that they can have a permanent house. We would feel more protected and there is some buffer from strong winds.”

In addition to operations to help families affected by Typhoon Haiyan, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has also started rebuilding thousands of homes in Bohol for families affected by the earthquake that struck on 15 October 2013.

Since 1988, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has played an active role in working with families to build decent homes. Through a network of project offices in rural and urban areas, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has built and repaired tens of thousands of houses.

Donations can be made at give2habitat.org/philippines/ReBuildPhilippines

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, Habitat has helped more than 4 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes since 1976. Habitat also advocates to improve access to decent and affordable shelter and supports a variety of funding models that enable families with limited resources to make needed improvements on their homes as their time and resources allow. As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. Habitat has supported an estimated 1.5 million individuals in the Asia-Pacific region, where it has been active since 1983. To get more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit habitat.org/asiapacific or follow us at habitatfacebook.com/habitat.

Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan Anniversary: From ship to shore, a story of survival

6 November 2014 - 11:12am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Philippines

TACLOBAN, the Philippines, November 6 (UNHCR) – The big dredger looks menacing as it towers over the houses next to it. Children run around the ship, playing and seemingly unaware of the tragedy that placed it there. Somebody has nonetheless scribbled a message on the ship's hull, which tells a different story: Stupid Yolanda.

The dredger was home to Bartolome and his family, together with 37 other families, for three weeks after Typhoon Haiyan hit the island of Leyte in the Philippines on November 8 last year. Typhoons are not uncommon in the Philippines and, over the years, people have learnt what to do and how to cope. But this was no ordinary typhoon.

Haiyan, locally called Typhoon Yolanda, swept over the central Phillipines with winds of 235 kilometres an hour and was one of the strongest typhoons to have ever hit the Southeast Asia nation. The storm affected around 14 million people and caused extensive damage to property. Entire communities were wiped out and the island of Leyte was especially affected. Thousands of people were killed on Leyte and elsewhere by the super storm.

"No one expected that the typhoon would be that strong. Yolanda was merciless," said Bartolome, sitting in his house built on pillars by the sea. "Everyone was aware that the typhoon was strong but the forecast was not that clear on how strong it would be."

Like many men, Bartolome sent his wife and children to an evacuation centre and stayed behind to guard his house. At his brother-in-law's house they huddled together and began preparing a meal, thinking it was just a question of waiting the storm out. But as the wind and rain increased, they saw the houses around them being blown away and destroyed one by one. Four people knocked on the door and asked to be let in. When the water began to rise they climbed up to the second floor, and then the roof.

"The rain and wind was so hard that it hurt when it touched your skin," said Bartolome. "My body was in pain. That's how strong the typhoon was."

As they were lying on the roof, he prayed that the waves would stop. By this point, they were almost as high as the house. Suddenly, a ship passed by and Bartolome thought that they were being saved. He soon realised that they were not rescuers. The people he saw waving from the ship were also survivors who had climbed onto the vessel.

When UNHCR found Bartolome and his family, they were living on the ship with other families in horrific conditions. They had no choice; their house was completely destroyed, the streets were full of debris and littered with rotting human and animal corpses. The stench was unbearable.

With the support of United Parcel Service (UPS), UNHCR provided Bartolome and his family with a solar-powered lantern, kitchen set, mats and a tent, helping them to move off the ship. As one of UNHCR's leading corporate partners, the shipment and logistics company contributed crucial funds to the immediate response and long-term recovery.

"I'm really thankful to UNHCR," said Bartolome. "They gave us a tent when they stopped by the ship. Not just to us but they also provided tents to other survivors of the whole province. I can't imagine what [the city of] Tacloban would look like without UNHCR and the other organizations."

The dredger remains a part of Bartolome's neighbourhood, reminding him of the awful events of the past. With the support he received from UPS and UNHCR, he quickly regained his strength and was able to swiftly rebuild his house. "I said we would be back in the house by the New Year, and I was right," said Bartolome proudly.

By Marjanna Bergman in Tacloban, the Philippines

Philippines: One year after Typhoon Yolanda: EYE SEE Photo Exhibition tells children’s stories of hope and resilience

6 November 2014 - 11:02am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Philippines

TACLOBAN, 6 November 2014 – One year after Super Typhoon Yolanda, children affected by the disaster are hopeful about what the future brings. The photography exhibition launched today entitled “Through the Eyes of Children – Stories of Hope and Resilience in Tacloban,” feature images by young photographers on how families are recovering and rebuilding their lives a year after the typhoon, as part of the EYE SEE project with Sony Corporation.

Twenty young photographers from different bunkhouses in Tacloban took part in a photography workshop organized by UNICEF and the Tacloban City Social Welfare Development office. Photography offers these children a chance to voice their emotions through the lens, paving the way to self-discovery and social participation.

Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines, said, “Children are the most vulnerable in major natural disasters, but they are not passive victims; they play a vital role not only in helping to rebuild, but also in reducing risk and strengthening resilience in the longer term.

At this one year mark after Typhoon Yolanda, it was important for UNICEF to offer children the creative opportunity to have their voices heard. The children’s range of experience is widened and their eyes opened to possibilities beyond their circumstances. It encourages them to actively participate in their environment and hopefully become instruments of change in their own lives and the lives of their communities.”

Beyond expanding their creative horizons through photography, the true strength of photography is its ability to give a voice and a means of expression. The EYE SEE project also provides a platform for these children to meet with people living beyond their community, which not only expands their range of experiences, but also makes known to them that they are not alone.

Above all, it encourages them to think of the possibilities beyond their circumstances, and become instruments of change in their own lives and the lives of their communities.

opet Arce, 16, voted by his fellow young photographers as the Best Photographer said the workshop has had a positive change on him. “I never really thought I had any talent in photography. Who knew it could open my eyes to a lot of things, and make me look at life differently? Maybe this is where my future is” he says.

First organised in Pakistan after the October 2005 earthquake, EYE SEE was initially focused on documenting children’s experiences in displacement camps. Guided by their CSR philosophy “For the Next Generation”, Sony has supported 17 EYE SEE workshops for children living in 14 countries, affected by disasters such as the 2011 Tsunami in Japan.

“Sony shares the same belief as UNICEF in the significance of children in shaping the next generation, and trust the power of imaging to provide the creative expression and inspiration for them to do so” said Mr. Nobuyoshi Otake, President & Managing Director of Sony Philippines. “EYE SEE not only gives them a voice, but more importantly a platform for them to share their stories of tenacity and hope with the rest of the world.”

Beyond the photo exhibition, Sony has supported communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda with aid and volunteer work via employee engagement, and will continue to share the travelling exhibit on social media.

UNICEF’s response to Typhoon Yolanda continues with the agency now focused on long-term development work to empower communities in their recovery. Over the last twelve months, UNICEF has rapidly scaled up humanitarian action, working in partnership to help local governments, civil society partners and communities, to build back better.

“Through the Eyes of Children – Stories of Hope and Resilience in Tacloban” will be on display until 15 January 2015 in Robinsons Place Tacloban, and on November 20 at the SMX Convention Center in SM Mall of Asia. Photos can also be viewed on the EYE SEE portal site at www.sony.net/eyesee and the UNICEF Philippines Flickr site at www.flickr.com/photos/unicefphils.

Philippines: One year after the super typhoon hit Philippines – FCA has built 47 classrooms in the disaster areas

6 November 2014 - 9:40am
Source: Finn Church Aid Country: Philippines

Saturday, 8th of November, marks the one-year anniversary of the historically powerful typhoon Haiyan hitting Philippines. Immediately after the disaster struck, Finn Church Aid distributed emergency relief to the region. Finns donated one million euros to the catastrophe fund. Now, one year later, FCA has built 47 classrooms in the affected region.

”The schools have been happy with how fast we have completed the constructions, even though by Finnish standards it seems to have taken a long time. We have received a lot of positive feedback on the design of the schools”, Merja Färm, a Team Leader of the school construction project in Philippines, says.

The school construction project will be completed on the anniversary of the typhoon Haiyan. Funding for the construction of new classrooms came straight from Finnish donors. The project, which lasted a little less than a year, cost approximately one million euros.

“A school building, which can be assembled quickly and easily, was designed in Philippines. Its framework is based on ready-made sheet metal parts, which can be easily bolted together to make durable walls. A company was found near Manila that could design schools that are both hurricane-proof and approved by the school officials. They can also produce the metal frames”, Pasi Aaltonen, a Coordinator and architect for school construction, says.

The classrooms built by FCA are designed to last for fifteen years. They will most likely last longer than that. The responsibility for their maintenance has now been given to the authorities of Philippines.

“The new classrooms give opportunity for hundreds of children from poor rural areas to attend school in appropriate and safe spaces”, Merja Färm says.

Portion of the construction work was done with Cash for Work –Programme, which brought income to in-need people. A majority of the workers were parents of the school children of the area.

Haiyan left four million people homeless, killed over six thousand and destroyed practically everything on its path through the middle of the country.

Commemoration ceremony in Tacloban city on Saturday

This weekend, there will be a commemoration ceremony for those who perished in the typhoon. Despite the successes, a part of Filipinos are dissatisfied with the slowness of reconstruction work.

John Nduna, the Secretary General of churches’ catastrophe fund ACT Alliance, will give a speech in Tacloban on Saturday, as a representative of all the humanitarian aid organisations that took part in the aid operation. A monument to honour the victims of Haiyan will be revealed at the same time.

Climate Walk, a demonstration on the effects of climate change, left Manila 40 days earlier, being led by Yeb Sanon, Climate commissioner of Philippines. The walk will reach its destination Tacloban on Saturday. Thousands of candles will be set into the ocean in the evening.

Finn Church Aid’s employees Merja Färm and Ulla Kärki will be attending the event in Philippines.

Churches’ catastrophe fund ACT Alliance’s collective work efforts have reached over one million people in Philippines. Finn Church Aid is a member of Act Alliance, a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organisations. ACT Alliance operates in over 140 countries.

For additional information:

In Philippines:
Merja Färm, Team Leader for school construction project, tel. +63 9499136501, or +63 9176208547
Ulla Kärki, Communications Officer, tel. +358 50 576 7948, or +63 9178836939, or +63 998 557 6569

In Finland:
Eija Alajarva, Director of Humanitarian Assistance Unit, tel. + 358 40 582 1183
Pasi Aaltonen, Coordinator for School Construction, tel. + 358 40 6482 499

Philippines: The European Union continues its support for Yolanda victims and recalls the need to address climate change

6 November 2014 - 9:32am
Source: European Union Country: Philippines

As the one year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda), the strongest cyclone ever recorded is commemorated on 8th November, the European Union (EU) and its Member States continue their joint assistance to the rehabilitation of the communities in the affected areas.

The humanitarian assistance and early recovery interventions provided by the EU institutions to the survivors amounts to €43.57 million (ca. PHP 2.5 billion), while the overall EU's humanitarian assistance for Haiyan, including the funding coming from the Member States, amounts to €502.39 million (ca. PHP 28.5 billion). All these contributions have made a difference for around 1.2 million people. The EU's relief efforts continue to be carried out through partner organizations such as the World Food Programme, the International Federation of the Red Cross, UNICEF, Action Contre la Faim, Save the Children, CARE, Merlin, Plan International, Oxfam, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Marking the Typhoon Haiyan first anniversary, the EU acknowledges that despite the apocalyptic damage caused by this super-Typhoon, the transition from emergency to rehabilitation was quick, thanks to strength and unbroken resilience shown by the people of the Philippines, and thanks to combined efforts by aid agencies, donors, the concerned governments, including civil protection authorities, NGOs and budgetary authorities.

This enormous damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan at the same time showed the high vulnerability of the Philippines to the climate change.

Preventing dangerous climate change is a strategic priority for the EU and its Member States in order to combat the major risks it presents to global prosperity, security and equity. As a demonstration of the leadership and ambition that the EU and its Member States have exhibited on this issue, in October 2014 agreement was reached on a package of measures referred to as the EU 2030 package. Through this world leading package, the EU as a block will commit to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40% domestically by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

With the vulnerability of the Philippines and the benefits for all that an ambitious climate change deal in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris 2015 can deliver, the EU and its Member States offer their assistance to the Philippines, looking forward to working together with the Philippines in the months ahead on the joint constructive and ambitious contribution to the success of the Paris conference.

Media Contact:
Thelma Gecolea
Public Affairs OfficerEU Delegation to the Philippines
Phone 09209661371

Philippines: In the Shadow of the Storm: Getting recovery right one year after typhoon Haiyan

6 November 2014 - 7:31am
Source: Oxfam Country: Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan – One year on and 1 million people still living in dangerous conditions as typhoon season hits

One year after Haiyan struck the Philippines nearly 1 million people made homeless are still living in makeshift shelters and are dangerously exposed to future typhoons, said international aid agency Oxfam.

There are 205,000 families living in ‘unsafe’ areas and only 1 percent of houses are built, said a new report published by Oxfam today called, In the Shadow of the Storm: Getting Recovery Right One Year After Typhoon Haiyan.

Oxfam said that significant progress had been made in the aftermath of the typhoon. However, the Philippine government now needs to show leadership in the relocation process for families.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013. It killed 6,000 people and made 4 million people homeless, with many unable to return to their houses. An estimated 1 million homes were destroyed or severely damaged. It was the strongest recorded storm to have made landfall. Almost a year after the storm families continue to struggle, with risks of deepening poverty.

Oxfam has helped 870,000 people since the typhoon struck. It has supplied water pumps, community latrines, cash vouchers for food, fishing boat replacement and repairs, clearing coconut tree debris, and setting up sawmills to convert the debris into lumber for shelters.

Oxfam Great Britain chief executive, Mark Goldring, said: “The Oxfam appeal for typhoon Haiyan raised £5 million – the British people were incredibly generous. We have seen the people of the Philippines start to get back on their feet and carry on. The government has also shown leadership in the transition from emergency to recovery efforts. But now it should show how to 'build back better.’”

“It has yet to prove that through its relocation efforts. Relocating families is not only about houses it’s also about jobs, safety, transport. People are still living in overcrowded bunkhouses and in lean-to homes – if nothing is done to these areas the families living there are at risk from another typhoon in this increasingly storm hit area.”

According to the report, 205,000 families are still waiting to be re-housed. The families live in poor, makeshift shelters in areas prone to being hit by typhoons. As of October, less than 1 percent of homes had been built due to difficulties in buying safe land in the right place. Local authorities are straining because they lack skilled people, resources and clear policies from the government.

In the Shadow of the Storm was published alongside, Can’t Afford to Wait, a broader report from Oxfam on how reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change across Asia needs to improve. This would help millions of poor people withstand climate related disasters, like typhoon Haiyan.

Goldring said: “If the risk of disasters is not adequately confronted, then the cards will continue to be stacked against poor people who bear the brunt of these catastrophes. Action in the Philippines must be backed up globally by actions to tackle these disasters.

“In Asia, it is often small food producers who often live in harm’s way. These families have no savings to tide them over after a disaster. It is they who will lose in the fight against climate change. Families are being forced to choose between safety and putting food on the table.”

//ENDS

For more information contact Christina Corbett on +44 (0)1865 47 2530 or +44 (0)7557 48 37 58 or ccorbett@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editors:

In the Shadow of the Storm can be read here: http://www.oxfam.org/en/research/haiyan-shadow-storm

Can't Afford to Wait can be read here: http://www.oxfam.org/en/research/asia-climate-change-cant-afford-wait

The Disasters Emergency Appeal (DEC) - an appeal that is made up of Oxfam and 12 other UK charities - raised £95 million for typhoon Haiyan.

World: One year on global leaders must heed Haiyan warning

6 November 2014 - 7:17am
Source: Christian Aid Country: Philippines, World

November 8 marks the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest tropical storm ever recorded making landfall, which devastated large parts of the Philippines, killing 6,300. The death toll also made it one of the deadliest typhoons in recorded history.

In the year since Haiyan struck, Christian Aid partner organisations in the Philippines have reached 290,000 people, helping them rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

The anniversary coincides with the publication of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which this week warned that climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly.

It is against the backdrop of that sobering warning that the annual UN summit on climate change will open in Lima, Peru on December 1.

Christian Aid’s Principle Climate Change Adviser, Dr Alison Doig, today urged governments at the summit to take heed of the IPCC’s warnings, saying Haiyan was a frightening example of what the world can expect if drastic action is not taken.

“The scientific consensus is that extreme weather events such as Typhoon Haiyan will become more frequent, and more intense, unless we act to stop the impacts of climate change already evident such as rising sea levels, and the warming of the oceans becoming worse,” she warned.

“It is now abundantly clear that all countries need to transition to a low-carbon energy future, while at the same time protecting vulnerable people from the impacts of climate disasters.

“The IPCC report is quite clear. The only way to avoid disasters like Haiyan becoming a frequent occurrence is to act now, adapt to the effects of a changing climate and cut emissions to prevent climate change getting worse.

“The global climate deal which will be worked on in Lima and hopefully signed in Paris in December 2015 must be fair and ambitious, with countries focussed on keeping the temperature rise to well below 2oC degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“This will require many countries setting aside their own short term interests for the common good.”

Ends For more information contact Andrew Hogg at ahogg@christian-aid.org 0207 523 2058; The 24 hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

  2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change (http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/partnership-for-change-summary.pdf) explains how we set about this task.

  3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

  4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

  5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

Philippines: Philippines: A Year After Typhoon, Mother Treasures School Awards

6 November 2014 - 3:44am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Philippines

After Typhoon Haiyan flattened her home in the Philippines, Analy’s first thought was to unearth the medals her children had won at school. The bits of ribbon and metal symbolised the family’s hopes of a better future. A year later, the family still has some rebuilding to do but Analy is happy to report that her children are back in school and hopes for the future are as vibrant as ever.

TANAUAN, LEYTE – Analy, 36, has always seen education as the key to a better life for her children. So when her home was smashed to pieces by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical storms ever recorded, it was the loss of her children’s school medals that pained her most.

“My children were crying because they saw their medals covered by our destroyed house,” she recalls, going onto to describe how the family painstakingly sifted through the rubble to find the dozen or so medals that were still there.

“The children gathered the medals one by one and dried them out in the sun. They are very important to me because my children really put in the effort to earn them.”

Assistance helped family recover

It is hugely important to Analy that one year after Typhoon Haiyan, all her children are back in school and studying hard. Her eldest daughter has even won a scholarship to study at the local university. He wants to train to be a teacher.

Analy says one of the things that made this possible was the assistance – food and cash – that her family received from WFP after the typhoon. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, it was basic food aid – in the form of rice included in family food parcels. Later came the financial assistance, aimed at helping vulnerable families rebuild and recover.

“My husband and I were so happy; we breathed a sigh of relief! The financial help we received from WFP allowed us to continue to provide for our children’s needs, especially for their food. We were also able to purchase school materials, medicines, vitamins, and clothes.”

The unconditional cash assistance programme helped over 500,000 people from 50 municipalities in Leyte, Samar, and Panay islands.

Analy and her husband Margarito were so determined to keep their children’s education in track that they even decided to postpone the rebuilding of their home so that money could be spent on school books.

Of course, it helps that Margarito is a carpenter. So the house he built for them just days after the typhoon is still standing and quite usable. Meanwhile, he earns money working on rebuilding homes for other people.

“We prioritize our children’s education so that’s where my husband’s salary goes. Even if our house is unfinished, it’s really important for us. We see that they are very interested in finishing their studies.”

"Children will never forget Haiyan"

Analy says her children were traumatised by their experience in the typhoon. As the water levels rose, they fled from their own house to that of a friend. The roof blew off the house they were sheltering in, leaving them exposed to the elements for days. “We felt hunger and cold,” she said.

Afterwards, for many weeks, the children would cry and cover their ears every time it rained. “Now, I think my children have recovered. But I know they will never forget what happened during the typhoon.”

World: Hashtag Standards For Emergencies

6 November 2014 - 1:24am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Guinea, Haiti, Liberia, Philippines, Sierra Leone, World

KEY MESSAGES

  • The public is using Twitter for real-time information exchange and for expressing emotional support during a variety of crises, such as wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, political protests, mass shootings, and communicable-disease tracking.31 By encouraging proactive standardization of hashtags, emergency responders may be able to reduce a big-data challenge and better leverage crowdsourced information for operational planning and response.

  • Twitter is the primary social media platform discussed in this Think Brief. However, the use of hashtags has spread to other social media platforms, including Sina Weibo, Facebook, Google+ and Diaspora. As a result, the ideas behind hashtag standardization may have a much larger sphere of influence than just this one platform.

  • Three hashtag standards are encouraged and discussed: early standardization of the disaster name (e.g., #Fay), how to report non-emergency needs (e.g., #PublicRep) and requesting emergency assistance (e.g., #911US).

  • As well as standardizing hashtags, emergency response agencies should encourage the public to enable Global Positioning System (GPS) when tweeting during an emergency. This will provide highly detailed information to facilitate response.

  • Non-governmental groups, national agencies and international organizations should discuss the potential added value of monitoring social media during emergencies. These groups need to agree who is establishing the standards for a given country or event, which agency disseminates these prescriptive messages, and who is collecting and validating the incoming crowdsourced reports.

  • Additional efforts should be pursued regarding how to best link crowdsourced information into emergency response operations and logistics. If this information will be collected, the teams should be ready to act on it in a timely manner.

World: Can’t Afford to Wait - Why Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation plans in Asia are still failing millions of people

6 November 2014 - 1:03am
Source: Oxfam Country: Philippines, World

Climate-related disasters and food crises are devastating thousands of lives and holding back development across Asia. A year on from the devastating super-typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Oxfam calls for governments across Asia, backed by regional and global institutions and fair contributions from wealthy countries, to ramp up efforts to address these challenges. Without greater investment in climate and disaster-resilient development and more effective assistance for those at risk, super-typhoon Haiyan-scale disasters could fast become the norm, not the exception.

Philippines: Social Protection Systems Help Mitigate Disaster and Climate Risk

6 November 2014 - 12:35am
Source: World Bank Country: Philippines

Countries can respond to natural disasters better and assist victims faster if robust social protection systems are in place— World Bank Group

MANILA, November 4, 2014 – The Government of the Philippines and the World Bank Group hosted the first regional conference to capture lessons on how countries could better respond to natural disasters through robust social protection systems. The event – which brought together experts and policy makers from 17 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and the Pacific regions—concluded that linking social protection and disaster and climate risk management systems is prudent public policy that could lessen the impact of and build resilience to these risks.

“Countries in Asia and the Pacific region are amongst the most prone to disaster and climate risks - and these natural calamities have devastating impact on lives and livelihoods, especially for the poorest and the most vulnerable. However, worldwide experience shows that post-disaster recovery and resilience can be greatly helped if there are robust social protection systems in place," said Arup Banerji, the World Bank Group’s Senior Director and Head of Global Practice, Social Protection and Labor. “The World Bank Group is proud to co-host this conference with the Philippines’ lead social protection agency, the Department of Social Welfare and Development. We learned how the existing Pantawid Conditional Cash Transfer Program, which has become an integral part of the Philippines’ Social Protection Systems, helps the Government respond to victims of last year’s Typhoon Yolanda. With a delivery mechanism already in place, countries can target their post-disaster humanitarian efforts better and channel them faster.”

Lessons from half a dozen countries around the globe highlight the merits of planning ahead and linking social protection and disaster and climate risk management systems. A better, more rapid and affordable system can help mitigate risk and respond quickly to disasters, thereby preventing increases in poverty, and protecting the government’s fiscal health.

Typhoon Yolanda was recorded to be among the strongest in history to ever make landfall, with over 8000 casualties and close to 200 severely affected municipalities in the Philippines. About 3 million households with almost 13.5 million family members were affected directly. Over a million houses were damaged or destroyed. The total damage and loss has been estimated at almost US$13 billion. The loss of jobs, livelihood, houses and productive assets immediately pushed about half a million households into poverty, while those that were already poor were pushed deeper into destitution.

“Before Typhoon Yolanda struck, the Philippine Government had already put in place various social protection programs aimed at empowering the poor. But the typhoon was a gamechanger; it tested the resiliency of our people and stretched government disaster response system and social protection structures to the limit,” said Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, the Philippine Secretary of Social Welfare and Development. “In the first critical days after the disaster, it was the network of implementers of our Pantawid Conditional Cash Transfer Program and the leadership in municipalities that we were able to mobilize. The database of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction helped us in identifying families that could be enrolled for various rehabilitation programs, such as the cash-for-work and cash-for-asset rebuilding. From our experience with Yolanda, convergence with other programs is real and is a practice implemented at different levels.”

The experts highlighted the following issues in the 3-day workshop:

• Social protection, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation share the common objectives of reducing risks, lessening the impacts of and building resilience to shocks. There are various tools and instruments available to prepare for and respond to disaster and climate risks, such as through public works programs and benefit transfers which can be adapted and scaled up to respond to disasters.

• Disaster risk financing and insurance is a key component in building a country’s financial resilience to disaster. A country is financially resilient when its government and people can manage the financial impact of disaster and climate change risk without compromising sustainable development, fiscal stability, or the wellbeing of families and communities.

• The scaling up of social protection systems will require technical infrastructure, such as the readiness of existing national identification systems, linkages between existing targeting systems and disaster response, data management systems for delivery of cash and kind benefits, and information technology tools to facilitate these processes.

“The Philippines provides a rich experience for other countries facing similar challenges with disaster and climate risks. It is encouraging to see the Government’s commitment to this agenda and to continually improve its existing social protection systems by making it resilient to disaster, while ensuring that it responds rapidly to the consequences of disasters,” said Motoo Konishi, World Bank Country Director for the Philippines. “To do this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has converged its three flagship programs --conditional cash transfer, community driven development and livelihood support-- to make them an effective tool in making households more resilient to disasters.”

MEDIA CONTACTS

In Manila
Dave Llorito
Tel : +63-2-465-2500
dllorito@worldbank.org

In Washington
Mehreen Sheikh
Tel : +1-202-458-7336
msheikh@worldbank.org

In Manila
Mohamad Al-Arief
Tel : +1-202-458-0119
malarief@worldbank.org

World: Education is an antidote to disaster

6 November 2014 - 12:24am
Source: Bangkok Post Country: Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, World

Republished with permission. © Post Publishing PCL. www.bangkokpost.com

Writer: Ramon C Bacani

Ramon C Bacani is director of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education – Regional Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO Innotech).

It took 10 days for Raul Basa, principal of Cabalawan Elementary School in Tacloban City, to get to his school after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on Nov 8, 2013. The huge amount of debris left left by the record-breaking typhoon blocked all roads.

When he reached his school, Mr Basa's heart sank at the sight of two collapsed classrooms and seven partially damaged ones of the 14 in total. Even the school gate and perimeter fence were blown away.

After checking that none of his teachers had perished in the typhoon, Mr Basa looked for ways to keep his school functioning.

With help from Unicef, the government and private groups, in just three weeks, classes resumed in hastily repaired classrooms with tarpaulins serving as temporary roofs. Some classes had to be held in tents, causing one teacher to collapse from the heat. Teachers held classes in two shifts so all students could be accommodated in what remained of the damaged classrooms.

Mr Basa said he expects repairs to be completed by the end of the year and classes to return to normal then.

And as devastating as Haiyan was, natural disasters that wipe out lives, endanger health and security and threaten livelihoods are a reality for many countries throughout East Asia and the Pacific. A 2013 World Bank study said that 40% of floods worldwide from 1980 to 2011 hit countries in the region, and 1.6 billion of its residents have been affected by disasters since 2000.

Along with being the most disaster-stricken region in the world, East Asia and the Pacific is also saddled with various forms of conflicts within countries and among communities.

Within the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), the Philippines serves as lead country for education in emergencies. One of the organisation's main aims is reaching the unreached as countries pursue education for all.

Southeast Asian countries grapple with different types of disasters of varying intensities and impact. In recent years, at least five countries dealt with the haze crisis, while other countries struggle with the steady onslaught of cyclones and floods.

As the Pacific Ring of Fire straddles some parts of the region, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis have caused severe devastation. Outbreaks of viruses such as avian flu and H1N1 threatened the region's public health systems. Man-made emergencies through conflict worsen matters.

A common government response in Southeast Asia has been for inter-agency bodies to lead disaster recovery efforts. This approach, common in Singapore and Indonesia, for example, is holistic, involving coordination between national agencies and the public.

Within the education sector, the ministries in Laos, the Philippines, Myanmar and Singapore have formed working groups to help develop disaster resilience. Other countries reported having disaster management bodies at the school-community level.

Across the region, efforts to protect education in emergencies include capacity building towards disaster resilience and response, building safe schools, and developing action plans that aim to lessen school disruption during emergencies.

Mr Basa's school in the Philippines, back in operation while still reeling from Haiyan, is an example of the kind of difference this type of coordinated approach can make.

A recent forum by SEAMEO Innotech, an international, not-for-profit organisation helping to find technology-based solutions to the pressing problems of basic education in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, proposed that the education sector could be an active player in building a disaster resilient nation. This can be done by integrating disaster risk reduction into schools' curricula and extracurricular activities and continuing to provide uninterrupted learning opportunities during emergencies to soften the impact of disasters on learners.

Meanwhile, Unicef East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, Unesco Bangkok and SEAMEO are collaborating to develop the Regional Guidelines for Education Programmes and Policies that Promote Social Cohesion and Comprehensive School Safety.

A regional consultation jointly held by the three organisations is now taking place at SEAMEO Innotech in Quezon City. The consultation aims to strengthen the capacities of East Asia and the Pacific in developing comprehensive school safety and social cohesion approaches to address all risks faced faced by children, schools, communities, and education systems and reinforce their total resilience.

It is expected to bring together the different perspectives on education and resilience from representatives of government, particularly ministries of education and the national bodies tasked with disaster mitigation and management, of more than 14 countries in the region.

We realise that we need to recognise all challenges — urbanisation, climate change, natural hazard and disaster, conflict, and economic volatility — and work through them in a systematic manner. Neglecting any one of them would blunt any potential gains in educating for resilience.

Through education, we hope to build our children's dreams and shield them from the angry fits of nature and man.

Philippines: Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan - Executive Brief, 5 November 2014

5 November 2014 - 11:32pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Philippines

HIGHLIGHTS

  • FAO is providing assistance in four critical areas of intervention, in support of over 154 000 families:
  1. Rice and corn farming – FAO has supported some 100 000 rice and corn farmers since December 2013. Livelihoods were restored rapidly, with big returns. For example, the rice seed distributed by FAO to more than the targeted 44 000 farming households, in time for the December/January planting season, yielded enough rice to: feed over 740 000 people for a year; generate vital income; and save seed for the next planting season.

  2. Fisheries and coastal communities – FAO is providing some 19 000 small-scale fishers with livelihood inputs, technical guidance and trainings on aquaculture, post-harvest processing, marine protected areas management and hybrid boats.

  3. Coconut-based farming systems – FAO is helping 32 500 small-scale coconut farmers build alternative livelihoods and is providing 3 000 upland farmers with seedlings and training to rehabilitate agroforestry systems.

  4. Coastal/mangrove forest rehabilitation – FAO is promoting the natural regeneration of coastal ecosystems and the recovery and protection of related livelihoods by distributing seeds and planting materials.

  • Resilience building is a key part of FAO’s ongoing interventions, complementing efforts to meet the urgent needs of farmers whose seed stocks were lost or damaged by the typhoon.

  • FAO has mobilized over USD 39.7 million – more than 100 percent of the funds appealed for under the Typhoon Haiyan Strategic Response Plan. Contributors include: Central Emergency Response Fund, European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, FAO and the Governments of Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

Philippines: ‘Yolanda’ made Samar community stronger, wiser, through DSWD program

5 November 2014 - 9:24pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Typhoon Yolanda stories can be depressing, given the level of devastation it brought to the country.

Barangay Inobangan in San Sebastian, Samar, however, is a different case.

Even though it was also hit by ‘Yolanda’ a year ago on November 8, 2013, the residents did not allow the disaster to overwhelm them. Instead, they used it as a springboard to grow stronger as a community, with the help of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in partnership with the Millennium Challenge Account (MCC).

Looking at the face of defeat

After ‘Yolanda’, prices of construction materials skyrocketed, given the high demand for these because of the large-scale repairs and infrastructure recovery works that needed to be done following the disaster.

This was the situation the people of San Sebastian found themselves facing. Implementing a 0.7-km path walk as a government-funded sub-project through Kalahi-CIDSS did not stop their previously contracted supplier from backing out because its stocks ran out.

The Procurement Team volunteers, led by Mario Vinceto, 42, nearly gave up. Canvassing failed several times, almost leading to the volunteer Procurement Team to surrender.

“May times na gusto na naming sumuko (There were times when we wanted to give up)”, said Mario.

They were eventually able to find suppliers, but only by January 2014, two months after ‘Yolanda’.

Still, the experience produced a lot of good. Since they have had prior experience in Kalahi-CIDSS, having implemented it the previous year, they were able to further develop their procurement skills. The barangay is now looking into formally adopting the procurement system of Kalahi-CIDSS as they now want to increase the involvement of residents.

The residents also became more confident in their skills in identifying quality in the materials and actual construction of sub-projects, even those that are not under Kalahi-CIDSS.

Antonieta Abaygar, 58, who served as the Barangay Sub-Project Management Chairperson (BSPMC) for their path walk sub-project, said that people are now more confident and stringent about standards of sub-projects.

She shared, “May nakita ang isang volunteer na na-damage ang kalsada. Agad sinabing nasira ang kalsada. Magkaka-findings iyang supplier. Kung Kalahi-CIDSS iyan, blacklisted na iyan (One of the volunteers saw part of the road was damaged. He said that the road is damaged. There will be findings on the supplier. If this was a Kalahi-CIDSS sub-project, the supplier would already be blacklisted).”

Employment

Residents also gained other things in their involvement in Kalahi-CIDSS.

For instance, women were able to earn as laborers during the construction of their path walk. This was something new for them, as it was more common among them to stay at home instead of work, let alone in construction.

Priscilla Jabonete, 41, who served as one of the laborers, said, “Dati, lalaki lang ang nag-le-labor. Ngayon, diri na… Ang mga babae, puwede na magtrabaho ayon sa kakayanan (Men were the only ones who did construction work before. This is no longer the case. Women can now work based on skill).”

They got the same salary as the men at P210 per day, which they used to help support their families.

Elita Pacayra, 25, and a mother of two said, “Okay ang trabaho kasi nakakadagdag kita para sa pamilya (The work is good because it helps us earn for our families),” adding that she uses the money to buy food for her family.

The job opportunities for women in Barangay Inobangan through KALAHI-CIDSS-MCC will not end there. Earlier this year, the barangay was one of the communities awarded a Gender Incentive Grant (GIG), also through the partnership project.

Through the GIG, interested women can be provided skills trainings in construction work such as welding, plumbing, electricity, masonry, and carpentry.

As a barangay of a 6th class municipality with 57 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program partner-beneficiaries, the job generation as a result of the trainings will be a big help to these poor families.

More economic opportunities

The path walk itself will lead to greater economic opportunities for the villagers.

Inobangan is primarily a farming community, with 77 of its 108 households involved in this industry. Before the path walk was constructed, farmers had to hire porters to help them bring their crops to the market, at P20 per sack, an already sizeable sum considering the meager earnings they get.

To make matters even more difficult for the farmers, even a little bit of rain makes the path muddy, making it difficult and dangerous for them to traverse the path, especially if they have their crops with them.

With the construction of the path walk, traveling to and from their farms will now be safer and quicker, and they will be able to use the money they previously spent on hiring porters to buy more seeds, put food on the table, and support their children.

Residents from neighboring barangays such as Balugo and Osmeña will also benefit from the path walk, as they can also use it to get to and from their villages and their farms.

Working in the sub-project also made the residents have more ownership of this, pushing them to take good care of it.

Said Priscilla, “Kami ang nag-trabaho diyan. May share kami diyan (We were the ones who worked for that, so we have a share in that).”

According to the Inobangan residents, volunteering in Kalahi-CIDSS helped tie the community closer together.

Barangay Captain Wilma Abaygar, 41, said, “Ang Kalahi-CIDSS ay pakikipagtulungan, kapit-bisig (Kalahi-CIDSS is about helping, linking arms with each other).”

Barangay Inobangan proved that even a disaster as strong as ‘Yolanda’ will not be able to break their spirits as long as they work together as a community.

As Barangay Captain Wilma Abaygar said, “Dati, walang pakialam ang mga tao, lalo na para sa kabilang-barangay. Nagkaroon lang ng ganyan sa Kalahi-CIDSS (People did not care before, especially for other barangays. This only happened as a result of Kalahi-CIDSS).”

Community-driven

Kalahi-CIDSS is a DSWD program that seeks to help alleviate poverty through community-driven development.

KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP is the expansion into a national scale of operations of the CDD approach, which was tried and proven effective by Kalahi-CIDSS. It targets the coverage of 847 of the poorest municipalities in the country.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency created in 2004 to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by helping countries promote economic growth.(DSWD)