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November 18, 2015

#RisingFromHaiyan: the Philippine Red Cross experience; Housing project for Yolanda survivors nearing completion

Two years after super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) , the strongest storm to ever make landfall in world history, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has helped tens of thousands of affected families to get back their livelihoods, build safer, more disaster resilient homes and classrooms, and given people access to improved health and sanitation facilities and services. 

Red Cross Haiyan assistance restored livelihoods, shelter, community facilities and services

As of end of October, 884,228 people have benefitted from PRC’s Haiyan Recovery Program which includes services ranging from shelter, livelihood, cash relief assistance, water and sanitation, hygiene promotion, and rehabilitation of classrooms.

“The success of our Haiyan operations would not have been possible without the support of our partners in the Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement and private partners who have generously contributed to help alleviate the suffering of those whose lives have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Because of the massive destruction caused by Haiyan, there was also a massive outpouring of support that came to us that helped restore people’s lives and dignity,” said PRC chairman Richard Gordon.

To date, PRC’s Haiyan Recovery program has built 66,011 homes out of the target 80,203 or 86 percent of the target number of houses to be built, amounting to around 2.2 billion pesos. The Red Cross Haiyan shelter program is spread across nine Haiyan-affected provinces: Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Leyte, Palawan, and Western Samar.

During the emergency phase, the Red Cross was able to provide emergency cash relief assistance to 90,779 families, the biggest ever cash transfer programming operations in the RCRC Movement history after an emergency or disaster. A total of PhP 281,529,400 or USD 6,256,208 was disbursed to affected families in a matter of four months from December 2013 to March 2014. Unconditional cash relief given per family ranged from PhP2,000 to PhP5,000.

Provision of shelter was augmented with livelihood assistance in the form of livelihood cash grants that beneficiaries used to start a new livelihood source or restart their lost livelihood. As of date, 59,218 families out of the target 62,289 households or 95 percent of the target number of beneficiaries, have been provided with livelihood assistance through conditional cash grants. The total amount of livelihood assistance to date is P592,180,000.

Aside from housing and livelihood, PRC also focused on health, sanitation and education. Through the Haiyan recovery operations, there are now 32 schools with improved access to water and sanitation facilities and 38 health facilities that have been repaired and reconstructed, which will cater to 222,618 individuals based on the population of the area. 

The education sector was not left behind as the Red Cross also focused on restoring classrooms so students can go back to their classes. As of date, 410 classrooms have already been rehabilitated and reconstructed, of which 39,165 students have benefitted. There were also 5,083 students who have received school kits from the Red Cross.

Myrns Roman
Philippine Red Cross press conference for updates for the 2nd Year Commemoration of Haiyan held at the Philippine Red Cross Tower. Boni Mandaluyong City, November 5, 2015 with Mr. Wolde Saugeron - Communications Coordinator, ICRC; Mr. Kari Isoma - Head of Country Delegation, IFRC; Sen. Richard Gordon - Chaimran of the Philippine Red Cross and Ms. Gwendolyn Pang - Secretary General of The Philippine Red Cross

Red Cross’ housing project for Yolanda survivors nearing completion

More than 66,000 families now have safer, more disaster resilient homes in typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) affected areas, as the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has already completed 86 percent of its target number of homes to be built in its shelter project under its typhoon Haiyan recovery program. 

As of date, a total of 66,011 families were provided shelter out of the target 80,203, which is targeted to be completed until the end of 2016. This is the largest ever shelter assistance that the Red Cross has provided in any post-disaster operations locally and globally, in terms of number of houses built and amount of shelter assistance provided. 

“What we are doing is not just building shelter for the families affected. More importantly, we are giving them back their dignity, which is why families are involved from the beginning in the process of building their homes,” said Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the PRC.

In building shelter, the PRC involves the community in all aspects of the building process. The beneficiaries themselves were part of the consultations regarding designs and plans for the shelters that the Red Cross and its partners were to build for them. Beneficiaries are even involved in the actual building of the houses. 

Houses built trough the PRC housing project were built employing the “build back better” principle for disaster resilience and have been proven to withstand some of the strongest typhoons that came after Yolanda.

The shelter project covers the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Leyte, Palawan, and Western Samar; as well as the cities of Bogo, Ormoc and Tacloban. 

“Providing shelter for families affected by Yolanda would not be possible without the support of our partners, private companies who supported our shelter program, and our partners in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement,” said Gordon. 

The housing project is supported by PRC’s partners in the International Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement, composed of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and several National Societies. 

RCRC National Societies involved in the Haiyan housing project include Finnish Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, German Red Cross, Hong Kong Red Cross, Taiwan Red Cross, French Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, British Red Cross, American Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) or Indonesian Red Cross, Qatar Red Crescent Society, Swiss Red Cross, and Bahrain Red Crescent. 

PRC’s private partners that have contributed to the housing project include Air Asia, HSBC, CUBE, Citibank, and AusAID.

Red Cross staff, volunteers beat all odds to reach affected areas in the aftermath of Haiyan 

In the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) staff and volunteers 

It was a race against time as Philippine Red Cross (PRC) staff and volunteers beat the odds of logistics problems, difficulty of access, and the pressing need to reach the affected areas to be able to bring life-saving relief items and services to those who have been affected by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). 

Rising from Haiyan

Here's the Philippine Red Cross experience 

It’s been two years since super typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm to ever make landfall in world history, struck the country on November 8, 2013. 

As early as November 6, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chapters were advised by its chairman Richard Gordon to take immediate precautionary measures, and mobilize units for the consolidation of supplies, vehicles, equipment, and manpower. 

On November 7, Chairman Gordon sent a text blast to all PRC chapters to activate response units in the respective areas, which were previously identified. 

During this time, the PRC leadership also called for an emergency meeting with Movement Partners (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Australian RC, Spanish RC, German RC, The Netherland RC, Finish RC). Together, they discussed the plans on how to address the immediate needs and life-saving measures to the vulnerable population affected by typhoon Haiyan.

Haiyan made landfall on November 8, and in less than 48 hours, PRC was on the grounds removing debris to open up main roads (more than 10,000 cubic meters of debris were collected), dispensing 68,702 hot meals and food supplies to hungry survivors, and attending to the medical needs of every citizen. While other agencies were still organizing plans and mobilizing their units, PRC was already delivering crucial services to the people. 

On November 11, the PRC organized an additional humanitarian convoy that brought relief supplies (food and non-food), rescue equipment, transport vehicles, ambulances, pay loaders, and water tankers. Part of the convoy were trained and skilled personnel of the PRC and Red Cross 143 volunteers, tasked to assist and provide immediate and life-saving support to the disaster affected population in Central Philippines.

In addition to food and water, one of the essential items that were distributed during the relief operation was the emergency shelter repair kit that helped 51,185 families to start the repair and construction of their damaged homes. 

Since line of communication was disrupted in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan, the PRC deployed its communication kit, helping survivors get in touch with their families. With the help of PRC’s partner mobile network, satellite phones were provided and the PRC was able to reconnect 35,230 families. 

While the PRC units were busy on the ground, Chairman Gordon was also coordinating help with foreign partners, and ensuring that their donations were brought to the affected areas safely and as swiftly as possible.

During the emergency phase of the operation, around 230,000 families were supported with essential household items (blankets, mosquito nets, plastic mats, water containers, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and tarpaulins) – making it as the biggest operation in the history of the Philippine Red Cross.

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