When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, it wreaked destruction across this island nation. It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, cost the lives of at least 6,268 people, and affected millions more throughout the country. In the wake of the storm there was a desperate need for food, water and medicine supplies, but now priorities have begun to change.
Whilst the immediate response to any natural disaster has to cater to people's basic needs, the long term approaches tend to be very different. This storm washed away people's homes, demolished livelihoods and crippled the country's economy. In the Philippines the emphasis has, therefore, begun to shift towards to rebuilding lives and infrastructure to ensure a sustainable recovery.
This rebuilding work requires a more long term approach and for the people in the country it is largely focused on two things. Talking to IRIN news Fe Kagahistian, cash coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Manila, says that Filipinos are crying out for jobs and shelter. According to her, these two things are essential to the next stage of post disaster assistance and must be at the forefront of government and NGO efforts.
It is estimated that Typhoon Haiyan cost the country's economy $3.3 billion in income and productivity. This has left around 7.4 million people who were employed in manufacturing, agriculture and the service sector out of work and unable to provide for their family. Rebuilding these industries is, therefore, a priority, but it will require a concerted effort on the part of both businesses and the government.
Building it better
Fortunately work is already underway to help the people of the Philippines recover from this disaster. The government has set up a new programme called “Enrolment To Employment”, which partners with the private sector to provide skills training and jobs. One of the biggest partners of this programme is Reyes Haircutters, a major national brand, who have established two training sites and hope to train 1,200 new hairdressers and barbers a year.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is also aiming to aid the recovery by setting up special economic zones in badly affected areas. These will offer financial incentives to companies, in order to boost the economy in these regions. Schemes like this are usually only open to large exporters, but Emmanuel Cortero, PEZA department manager, tells IRIN that small and medium enterprises, who employ up to 69% of the workforce in some areas, will now also benefit. Programmes like these are just the start of what is likely to be a long rebuilding process.
We were a key part of the emergency relief effort in hard-hit areas such as the city of Tacloban. Our long-term presence in the Philippines meant we were well-placed to offer quick and effective relief to families in need. Find out more about our emergency relief work.