Philippines Typhoon - your questions answered

10 October 2016

Damaged houses on a coastal community, after Typhoon Haiyan hit Iloilo Province,

Damaged houses on a coastal community, after Typhoon Haiyan hit Iloilo Province, [REUTERS/Raul Banias]

Your questions answered about the typhoon and our response.

Please give to our Emergency Response Team to help people in need

What has happened?

Typhoon Haiyan – known locally as Yolanda – struck the central Philippines on Friday 8 November 2013 with winds of up to 171 mph and a storm surge up to 25 feet high that devastated coastal areas. More than 14 million people had their lives torn apart and more than five million lost their homes. The so-called “super-typhoon” was the strongest storm to hit the Pacific in 2013, and one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall. According to the Philippines government, more than 6,000 people were killed. There was widespread destruction of homes, schools and roads.

What are the humanitarian needs?

The typhoon had a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions of people. Many lost their homes, their possessions and their means of making a living. While the overwhelming majority of people received emergency assistance, many still need support in rebuilding their homes.

Crops and trees were destroyed over vast areas, and tens of thousands of fishing boats were damaged or destroyed, so people need assistance in making a living again.

With an average of 20 typhoons hitting the Philippines each year, it is also vital to support communities in preparing better for future disasters.

Help us respond to people in need

How much has CAFOD’s appeal raised?

Catholics in England and Wales responded with remarkable generosity to our Philippines Typhoon Haiyan appeal, donating more than £5.4 million. We have also received over £2.5 million as our allocation from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) joint appeal, as well as £660,000 from the UK government’s Rapid Response Fund.

What are CAFOD and its partners doing?

As part of Caritas International – a coalition of Catholic agencies around the world – we have worked with local churches to deliver aid to more than 800,000 people. Donations to CAFOD are directly responsible for reaching more than 191,000 people.  

In the immediate aftermath of the typhoon...

Our partner Caritas Philippines worked with churches to distribute food, and help people start to earn a living again through fishing, poultry-raising and seaweed farming. They also provided shelter kits containing tarpaulins, rope, tools and nails, as well as essential supplies like sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchenware and blankets. With support from CAFOD and other Catholic agencies around the world, the project reached more than 375,000 people.

We also worked with Caritas Switzerland to provide food, shelter kits and emergency supplies in the north of Cebu. In total, the project reached 70,000 people.

Making sure people have access to clean water and sanitation was also critical. We worked with Catholic Relief Services to provide water and sanitation to more than 50,000 people, trucking clean water to vulnerable communities and providing hygiene kits including buckets, soap, towels and water purification tablets. We also helped to repair latrines to prevent sewage from contaminating water sources.

In the months that followed…

We have worked with Catholic Relief Services to help 32,000 people to make a living again, providing work restoring coconut farms, as well as seeds, tools and equipment for farmers. Over the past year the project continued to support 1,200 farmers with intensive training, tools and access to long term markets for their goods.

With support from CAFOD and other Caritas agencies, Caritas Philippines continue to reach more than 140,000 people, providing permanent, disaster-resistant houses, new water and sanitation systems and new ways of making a living. Following support and training, they have additionally coordinated responses to three significant typhoons that have affected the Philippines over the past year.

We worked with CORDAID to build high-quality permanent homes for 1,000 people in remote villages in Eastern Samar, in the first area to be hit by the typhoon. We then continued to provide support to 800 people with training and tools, enabling them to work together to protect their environment against future disaster and make a living.

We worked with Caritas Switzerland to repair or rebuild schools that were destroyed by the typhoon, ensuring that they will be able to withstand future disasters. Thanks to CAFOD and other Caritas agencies, the completed project has reached more than 11,000 people. Students and teachers have safer new classrooms, communities report stronger cohesion, and feel better prepared for future natural disaster.

We worked with Philippines-based partners ECOWEB and PhilSEN to empower 1,150 members of remote communities to work together as social enterprise or community-based groups to create opportunities through training and tools for making a living and learning how to protect their local environment through organic farming practices.

Over the course of this programme, we have seconded ten staff to provide expert support for our partners in the Philippines.

Three years on, as the programme draws to a close, we have started the process of reflecting on achievements and challenges. Bringing partners together to ensure learning is maximised, techniques for successful resilience is shared and that communities are empowered to resist future natural disasters.

Is aid getting through to those most in need?

Yes. With support from CAFOD and other Catholic agencies, our partners have delivered aid to hundreds of thousands of people who have had their lives torn apart by the typhoon. 80 per cent of people in the Philippines are Catholic, and the Catholic Church was on the frontline of the emergency response, delivering aid quickly to remote communities.

However, because of the sheer scale of the disaster, it will take years for many communities to recover completely.

What has been the impact of typhoons since Haiyan?

The Philippines is hit by around 20 typhoons per year, but good preparation can help to limit their impact. One positive legacy of Typhoon Haiyan is that the Philippines government and our Church partners have become better prepared for disasters.

Typhoon Hagupit hit the Philippines on 6 December 2014, affecting many of the same areas as Typhoon Haiyan. Although it was a less powerful typhoon that Haiyan, many people feared that their homes would once again be destroyed. Improved preparedness, however, limited the damage. New CAFOD-funded homes on the Guiuan peninsula withstood the typhoon, while the most vulnerable people were able to evacuate safely. Partners were also able to use this opportunity to evaluate and further improve preparedness plans and evacuation procedures.

Typhoon Koppu made landfall in the Philippines on 18 October 2015. Before the typhoon hit, Caritas Philippines formed an emergency response team that could be deployed rapidly, while local diocesan teams pre-positioned stocks of relief supplies. Once the typhoon had passed, priests, volunteers and Church workers were ready to start distributing food, hygiene kits, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and shelter materials immediately to the areas where they were most needed.

How are you coordinating your response with others?

As a member of Caritas International, we are coordinating closely with other Catholic agencies to ensure that our response is as efficient and effective as possible. All Caritas agencies are working with Caritas Philippines, which has an existing network of Church staff and volunteers across the country, and which is liaising with the Philippines government and UN agencies.

As part of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), we work together with thirteen major British aid agencies to ensure that we are not duplicating our efforts.

We have also worked as part of a consortium with Plan International, Oxfam and Catholic Relief Services to deliver aid through the British Government’s Rapid Response fund.

Where does my donation go?

Each emergency is different, and we have to respond in different ways depending on the circumstances. Approximately 88 pence from every pound donated to one of our major emergency appeals is used to respond directly to the emergency – including the costs of delivering food, water, shelter, blankets and relief supplies. 10 to 12 pence enables the organisation to scale up to respond to the emergency, and ensures that while the organisation as a whole is prioritising the emergency response, resources are not diverted away from our other essential work.

These are the costs of some of the emergency items we delivered:

£5 clean water kit for a family.

£9 emergency shelter for a family.

£13.50 essential household supplies, such as blankets and cooking pots for one family.

£360 a water tank for a community.

£1,200 permanent, disaster-resistant home.

Please give to our Emergency Response Team to help people in need

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