Rebuilding Lives One Year on From Super Typhoon Haiyan

One year on from the Category 5 Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally named ‘Yolanda’), thousands of people across the Philippines are rebuilding their lives, with the help of funding and support from the Australian Catholic community and the Australian Government.

Rebuilding Lives One Year on From Super Typhoon Haiyan

Caritas Australia, the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency, is working on the ground alongside Caritas Philippines and 41 other agencies within the Caritas network, as the country enters a phase of recovery and rehabilitation.


Typhoon Haiyan was one of the largest storms ever recorded, making landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar province, Philippines, as winds of more than 300 km per hour winds tore through over 12,000 villages. It’s estimated 6,300 people perished in the storm, 4.1 million people were displaced, and 1.1 million homes were damaged or destroyed.


Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Emergencies Coordinator, Richard Forsythe said the Caritas network has delivered over 75,000 of the most vulnerable households, access to essential food through food supplies and vouchers; emergency shelter; health, hygiene and household kits, early livelihood recovery support and psychosocial services.


“The Caritas network responded the day Haiyan struck with emergency relief supplies, ordering emergency shelter tarpaulins from pre-positioned stocks in Dubai and China,” Mr Forsythe said. “Since then, mountains of debris have been cleared from neighborhoods, schools have resumed, and toppled homes have tarps and new frames made from salvaged wood.”


“It takes years to recover from such a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan, especially for those most marginalised,” Mr Forsythe said. “It can derail a family’s stability, deplete a lifetime of savings, and push them into poverty. The devastation to infrastructure, economy and reserves can set communities back a generation.”


As the country transitions to a recovery and rehabilitation phase, Caritas Australia is working with engineers and government counterparts to share temporary shelter design ideas and information about safe, adequate, durable designs and repair standards which are typhoon resilient. 


An estimated 5.6 million workers lost their jobs following the disaster, so Caritas Australia has also been focusing heavily on support for people to re-establish their means for income and stability. So far, hundreds of families have received fishing boats and board motors, while almost 18,000 farming families have received vegetable seeds and small garden tools.


“Activities run by Caritas Australia and its partners such as Cash for Work, encourage people to be hands-on in the clean-up of their communities, literally piece by piece,” Mr Forsythe said


“Similarly, providing affected families with the materials, tools and knowledge to rebuild their homes, to farm in new and profitable ways and to fish and raise poultry again, helps them to re-establish a sense of normal life and supports livelihoods. These efforts help people restart their lives, with a foundation for long-term stability, and reduce the need for long-term aid.”


Caritas Australia supporters raised over $6 million following Typhoon Haiyan.

“I would like to say thank you to our supporters for their generosity on behalf of Caritas Australia, our global partners, and the communities whose lives they are changing.”


Find out more at Photo courtesy of Caritas Australia.


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