Cash distributions give Typhoon Haiyan survivors a fresh start

Publié: 12 février 2014 17:51 CET

By Kate Marshall, IFRC

Cuddling her six-month-old baby Nelson, Joriza Perez waits patiently in line with other members of her village in Tabontabon in the Philippine province of Eastern Leyte. Three months ago Joriza’s husband was killed by flying debris when Typhoon Haiyan tore through the area, leaving her widowed with six young children.

Life has been tough since the typhoon, but today Joriza will receive a cash grant from the Philippine Red Cross that will go some way towards relieving her financial difficulties. Joriza says she will spend her money on sending her children to school. Fortunately – unlike many others in her village – Joriza’s simple wooden hut was left standing, and she has family close by.

Since the typhoon struck the Red Cross has distributed cash to over 40,000 households in some of the worst affected parts of Leyte, Panay and Palawan islands. Teams have completed distributions in Panay and Palawan and the focus is now on Leyte province, the region that bore the brunt of the typhoon. In eastern Leyte, including Tacloban City, the destruction was worse than other areas of the Visayas region. Each household is receiving a grant of 5,000 Pesos (USD 110).

Cash surge team leader, Colin Chaperon, says emergency cash complements the distribution of relief items such as food and household items, increasing the purchasing power of affected people, enabling them to decide for themselves how best to meet some of their ongoing needs.

“People in rural areas have been particularly hard hit. The local economy is struggling to recover and with their livelihoods destroyed, people have little spending-power,” he says. “Cash is a flexible option. Families can choose whether to buy nails or wood to fix their house. Others might pay for services such as transport, school supplies for their children or hiring a chainsaw to log their fallen coconut trees for lumber.”

The process starts with the Red Cross teams conducting assessments of the worst affected communities. Lists of names are drawn up with the local municipal authorities and then a well-tuned registration process takes place at community level where beneficiaries’ identities are verified and they receive a registration card.

At the distribution in Tabontabon, the team of 20 Philippine Red Cross volunteers arrive well before dawn to set up in the local library. The cash arrives separately with a contracted remittance company.

Joriza and recipients from four neighbouring villages in the area arrived at 7am. Priority is given to the elderly, pregnant women, the disabled and those with young children like Joriza. Each person presents their Red Cross registration card and ID at the registration tables, where their name is checked against a master registry. Together with a volunteer they walk to one of four windows at the library to collect their cash from remittance staff.

Most residents spend the money on rebuilding their homes but elderly farmer Jesus Advincula, a resident of Amandangay village, plans to replant his rice crop which was destroyed in the storm. After that, he will spend what is left over fixing up his house.

In the village of Mohon, 70 houses were completely destroyed, and only one was left standing. Local resident Romeo Galliano plans to use his grant for rebuilding, but he is worried about the rising cost of iron roofing sheets on the local market. His wife Tessie wants to buy uniforms and school books for their four children who cry a lot over their lost home. The Gallianos, who are relying on family and friends for shelter while their house is rebuilt, say the extra funds will make a big difference to their finances while they wait for the rice crop to ripen.