Just over 18 months ago Typhoon Haiyan, a category 5 super typhoon, battered the central Philippines. The typhoon tore through the Central Visayas region with 300kph winds and heavy rain, triggering floods and mudslides and causing tsunami-like storm surges that destroyed coastal villages and towns.
Thousands of people were killed and 1.1 million people made homeless, while 16 million people were affected – one sixth of the country’s population. The scale of the destruction was without precedent. As well as homes, Haiyan wiped out crop staples, fisheries, schools and health facilities.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent came together to support the Philippine Red Cross. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) responded immediately with shelter, food and non-food items, as well as specialised personnel, reaching 1.3 million with emergency relief and continued to support vulnerable people well into the recovery phase. Despite many intervening and varied natural disasters in one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, the Typhoon Haiyan operation has stayed on track, having reached 70 per cent of its overall target. Red Cross shelter has exceeded 55,000 homes built or repaired; of this, IFRC has so far completed one-third of its 9,000 shelter target.
Livelihood cash distributions in relief and recovery have set a record for the Red Cross, with more than 146,000 households, equivalent to about 700,000 people, receiving between USD110 and USD220. IFRC’s contribution is well over 70,000 of the total.
Haiyan left hundreds of rural health facilities and schools unusable. The Red Cross is committed to rehabilitating or repairing 62 of these, as well as providing new medical equipment. School children are also getting improved access to latrines and wash facilities. Hygiene promotion has been conducted in over 30,000 households. Hundreds of classrooms have also been rebuilt or repaired in time for the new school year.
Disaster risk reduction is also picking up pace, with nearly 10,000 individuals trained as community volunteers to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of Philippine Red Cross during emergency drills and evacuations.