Cash transfers are helping to rebuild resilient communities in post-Haiyan Philippines

Published: 29 May 2015 14:05 CET

By Kate Marshall, IFRC

In the space of a year and a half, nearly 150,000 households across the area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan have received relief in the form of cash relief and conditional livelihood support. According to the Conditional Cash Working Group, this a record for any Red Cross Red Crescent operation.

Households have received livelihood cash grants of between 5,000 and 10,000 pesos ($110-220 US dollars). The largest number of beneficiaries received livelihood cash grants and more than 91,000 households receive emergency cash for their immediate needs.

Food and livelihoods support accounts for 25 per cent of the total spending (44.1 million Swiss francs) on Typhoon Haiyan recovery.

One of the earliest recipients was Irene Collera from Palo, Leyte. Her coastal community was hit first by the Typhoon, and then by the resulting tidal surge. Irene now runs Irene’s buko shack, a thriving coconut juice business that employs other local people. With her savings from the initial investment she has also built a new house and bought her husband a better fishing boat. She is also heads up the local stall owners’ association.

While around three-quarters of beneficiaries chose to restock and replant, a small percentage seized the opportunity to set up a small business. Some replaced ruined stock and equipment, such as weavers, cooks and carpenters, while others took the plunge by learning new skills, such as candle making, sandals, straw hats and recycled rubber pots.

By replenishing their stocks and supplies locally, beneficiaries inject much needed cash into the economy. For the first time, many can afford to feed their families regularly and also buy school supplies.

“In terms of livelihood, beneficiaries have made a lot of progress in 18 months,” said Gwen Pang, Secretary General of the Philippine Red Cross. “Their lives have been changed and their livelihoods are even more effective than before,” she said. “We did not just give people the resources to start up their livelihood, but we taught them skills and the technology on how to use the what they have and grow, so their income is better this time.”

Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon agrees. “We’re looking at reinforcing livelihoods, giving people a fresh start in life and making them stronger. All you need to do is work hard and with a bit of economic support you can start a new life, as – say – a welder, or an entrepreneur selling food or wares, as a fisherman, or a coconut pedlar,” he said.