Restoring resilience and dignity – Philippine Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan shelter recovery programme nears completion

Published: 4 May 2016 5:44 CET

By MJ Evalarosa, IFRC

As it nears the end of its three-year operation to help communities to recover from Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Visayas region of central Philippines, the Red Cross has helped build or repair more than 72,000 homes.  

In April ceremonies attended by representatives from the Philippine Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Committee of the Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, Qatar Red Crescent Society, and American Red Cross were held in three different venues in the province of Leyte to mark the handover of more than 5,600 homes, three health centres and seven educational facilities.

Various approaches have been used by Red Cross partners to help families rebuild. The IFRC’s shelter programme consists of shelter repair assistance, which provides people with the equivalent of 220.00 US dollars or 195.00 euros in cash and building materials. In some ‘core shelters’ have been constructed for some families who lost their houses and training has been provided which has allowed families to complete the construction process themselves.

Crisencio Auris, a 42-year-old carpenter, is one of those who directly benefited from the build back better approach. He has been working for the Red Cross as a skilled labourer since 2014 and was able to help build typhoon-resistant homes for his community in Pastrana, Leyte.

"See those tiles? I worked hard to earn the money to buy them," says Crisencio. "I placed all the tiles myself. I have six kids so the concrete floor would always get dirty. Instead of letting my wife spend hours and hours each day to keep it clean, I decided to save the money I earned to buy new tiles for my house which are easier to clean."

To ensure that each identified household will have a secure site for the next 10 to 15 years, the Red Cross is coordinating closely with local government units, volunteers and project staff.

“Identified households in communities are given an orientation and information on safe sites. We then assess the household’s proposed location for potential hazards and risks and if we find them unsafe, we present alternative solutions, such as guidance on mitigation works or advising them to secure a safer site,” says IFRC shelter delegate Colin Price.

Each core shelter’s design was kept simple so that it focused on what the people needed, but at the same time, giving people the freedom to customize their homes.

The Palamos siblings, Alex and Elena, from District-IV, have both received core shelters from the Red Cross. Alex, 40, set up a makeshift barbershop on the site of his sister’s former home, while Elena, 37, busies herself with a direct-selling business.

"Our family felt so lost after Haiyan happened,” says 37 year-old Elena. “We saw all the hard work Red Cross staff and volunteers went through to make this happen, so thank you from the bottom of my heart."

“Together with the wider humanitarian community, our Red Cross Red Crescent family, through the strong leadership and initiative shown by the Philippine Red Cross, will continue to work towards recovery and renewal in the Visayas,” says IFRC Program Coordinator Ramsey Raysis. “This way, we can ensure our communities are stronger, better informed, and more resilient to future disasters.”

The Philippine Red Cross recovery operation is spread over nine provinces. Its shelter programme, which aims to support the rebuilding of 80,000 homes by the end of the year is supported by the IFRC, 17 Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies as well as private donors including Air Asia, HSBC, Citibank and Singapore-based CUBE.