Philippines: Our Mission Comes to a Successful End
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) decimated coastal villages in the Philippines and displaced four million people from their homes.
Two-and-a-half years later, Medair has concluded its relief activities on Leyte island, with thousands of people now safely housed and better prepared for natural disasters.
“The mission of Medair is to save lives in emergencies and then stay to help people recover from crisis with dignity,” said Medair’s Mark Screeton. “It is with great satisfaction that we can say we have fulfilled our mission in the Philippines.”
THE EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Within 48 hours of Typhoon Haiyan, Medair’s Emergency Response team joined the relief effort. Medair concentrated its relief activities in Dulag, 30 kilometres south of Tacloban city, a town that had been directly in the typhoon’s path. With four of every five homes in the area totally or partially destroyed, and 45,000 people without shelter, Medair distributed emergency shelter and hygiene kits.
Medair’s team faced some challenges in the beginning. “It was the height of the rainy season, and there were heavy downpours most days,” recalled Andrew Robinson, Medair Communications Officer. “Homeless families urgently needed shelter assistance, but with so much of the infrastructure destroyed, we faced an uphill battle to get materials into Dulag. Our logistics team did a brilliant job. They found ways to procure and transport materials as quickly as possible.”
Medair was able to procure and distribute 1,700 tarpaulins and 4,900 hygiene kits during the first seven weeks, so that the most vulnerable families had shelter by Christmas and families could start looking ahead to rebuilding their lives.
BUILDING BACK BETTER
Medair’s overarching goal has been to help communities “build back better,” a motto that represents Medair’s commitment to the people of Dulag and nearby communities. The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world, so we were not content to simply rebuild what was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, but determined to leave communities better prepared to cope with future disasters.
In 2016, Medair departs the Philippines having achieved this goal. We have built 1,680 homes which are stronger and more durable than the structures families lived in prior to Typhoon Haiyan. We have helped 1,200 households repair and strengthen the roofs of their homes. We have provided training in disaster risk reduction to more than 11,000 people, including carpenters, community leaders, and families who received a Medair home. There is clear evidence that homes and businesses have been strengthened using the techniques Medair has taught. In the long term, the community is now better equipped to endure future disasters. “I would now build a house differently,” said Francis, a homebuilder. “I would build it stronger. I would build it like a Medair house.”
In mid-2015, with the shelter programme nearing a successful end, Medair turned its resources towards improving the sanitation of vulnerable families, providing latrines to 1,252 households.
Formal feedback from the community has shown widespread satisfaction and gratitude from those who have received our assistance. “Our Medair house is much stronger than the house we were going to live in before Yolanda,” said Teresita. “This house, when there is a storm, it doesn’t move at all because it is made strong, while the house we had built ourselves would sway. It was like a house on a swing.”
Saying goodbye to a country programme is never easy, especially to the hard-working local staff who became part of the Medair family. “It was so encouraging to see our amazing Filipino staff interacting with their communities as they delivered training or oversaw construction sites,” said Mark Screeton. “It was clear they were passionate about what they were doing and knew their jobs inside out.”
“Thanks to you all for your contribution to Medair’s work in the Philippines,” said Alberto Livioni, Head of Philippines Programme. “We can all take satisfaction in knowing we have been successful in our mission to help people recover from crisis with dignity.”
Your gifts make it possible for Medair to respond to sudden emergencies like the Philippines. Please consider a gift today.
Medair’s work in the Philippines was supported by All We Can (UK), Swiss Solidarity, EO Metterdaad (NL), ERICKS Development Partner (SE), Transform Aid International (AU), Tearfund (BE), Tearfund (UK), and generous supporters like you.
© Medair/Miguel Samper