Typhoon Haiyan -One Year After:
Ambitious scemes sound fine on paper -but are they
viable in practice?
Do those responsible have the ability and the will to make
Are humanitarian projects simply a way of publically
funding exploitative commercial systems?
-Good intentions are apparently not enough
-Central government planning may be
inefficient, corrupt, or simply too bureaucratic
-Perhaps direct aid to people in need is
better than supporting large-scale infrastructures
that actually create poverty in support of the rich
-Perhaps local building traditions and
materials are better than expensive imported products,
which are not adapted to local conditions
-Could comfortable light-weight and
easilly rebuildable structures be safer and more
economically viable in relation to local conditions?
-Could effective food security be more
important than a reliance on dubious monetory
-Food security implies crop diversity
suitable for local diets and a focus away from cash
crops that lead to mono-culture and economic
-What did happen to all the
international aid that came pouring in?
-Where did the aid money go
and how effective was it?
-How much is an industrialised economy
responsible for destroying the environment and causing
-Is it possible that externally imposed
socio-economic systems are destroying the natural
creativity of local cultural systems?
FEATURE-Typhoon Haiyan survivors rebuild
lives with farming, pigs, stores
Source: Thomson Reuters
Foundation - Wed, 5 Nov 2014 06:00 GMT
BASEY, Philippines, Nov 5 (Thomson
Reuters Foundation) - Coconut farmer Pacalan Wenefredo has taken
to growing rice.
Author: Thin Lei Win
Elizabeth Caramol, 36, with one-year-old son Cavein on her
lap and one of her older children, sits in a house in
Marabut, on Oct. 14, 2014, which they rebuilt after
Typhoon Haiyan swept away their old home in November 2013.
Caramol was nine months pregnant when the storm hit and
gave birth to a healthy baby boy five days after the
storm, on the floor of a cave where they have taken
Fisherman Napoleon Caramol is planning to
Housewife Felipa Balbuana, a mother of four,
has signed up for her first job in years, sewing backpacks.
Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest
storm on record to hit land when it slammed the Philippines on
Nov. 8 last year, have had to adapt in a bid to rebuild their
lives in the wake of the storm that killed or left missing about
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates
5.6 million workers in a nation of about 100 million saw their
means of earning a living ruined or seriously impaired by the
disaster - and about a third of those affected were already
Crops were destroyed, boats ripped apart, and
houses flattened as the typhoon powered across the central
Philippines, packing winds of up to 315 km an hour (195 miles)
and causing seven metre (23 feet) storm surges.
Wenefredo, 59, had worked for 20 years on
land held for generations in his family in the inland village of
Cancaiyas in central Philippines to produce copra, the dried
kernel used for making coconut oil but Haiyan destroyed 80
percent of his trees.
The Philippines is one of the world's largest
producers of coconuts, with exports averaging $1.5 billion
annually in recent years and the government estimates the damage
cost $38 million which is a fortune for many small scale
Aware it could take six to eight years for
newly replanted coconut trees to reach maturity and return to
full production Wenefredo turned to rice farming using cash
assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross
It is much less profitable but Wenefredo said
he had no choice. He has just sold his first harvest, halving
his income, but he needs money to repay debts incurred before
"We will continue with the rice farming. It
is our only source of living at the moment," he told the Thomson
Reuters Foundation, sitting on a bench in the stiflingly hot
living room of fellow coconut-farmer-turned-rice-farmer Gerry
FORCED INTO POVERTY
Baclayo nodded in agreement.
In its path of destruction, Haiyan damaged
about 33 million coconut trees from a national total of about
300 million, and affected the livelihoods of more than a million
farmers, according to the Philippines Coconut Authority (PCA).
"Less than half of our
needs are covered by the income ... we do extra labour
work," he said. "We borrow money, sometimes without
interest, sometimes with 10 percent interest, so we can
buy fish because it's hard to eat just rice."
The ADB estimates Haiyan drove an additional
one million people below the poverty line with more than 1.3
million people needing emergency relief in the aftermath of the
disaster, according to the ICRC. The typhoon displaced up to 4
A priority now is to clear fallen coconut
trees covering swathes of land in areas hit by Haiyan to avoid
the threat of pest infestation and clear the way to replant and
"Our estimate is coconut rehabilitation will
take about five to 10 years. We will need about 20 million
coconut seedlings," said Edilberto Nieva, head of the PCA in
"We are telling the farmers to do
inter-cropping so they can start making money immediately.
This means planting things like young corn and vegetables that
they can consume and sell."
Initial data from the ICRC shows that
farming, rearing livestock and setting up local convenience
stores are the top three income generators for people given
grants to restart.
Pigs, goats, and chickens and produce for
convenience stories are among the most popular items bought by
Fisherman Napoleon Caramol, 44, has planted
root vegetables in his garden and is planning to rear pigs with
His wife Elizabeth was nine months pregnant
with their ninth child when Haiyan swept away their rickety home
on a coconut farm in Marabut municipality in the central
They took refuge with 60 other families in a
hillside cave, one of many dotted along the beautiful, winding
coastline in Samar province, during the storm. His wife feared
for her life but delivered a healthy boy five days later named
Emerging from the cave, however, they had to
rebuild their home and lives, just relieved they had never taken
on any debt.
"The typhoon left a big hole in our small
paddle boat and destroyed parts of our fishing nets. They're
beyond repair," said 36-year-old Elizabeth Caramol.
"Now if we do not get fish or cannot buy
rice we eat root vegetables ... we are planning to raise pigs
with the grant from (child health care charity) Terres des
hommes and maybe I'll set up a small grocery stall."
The ICRC has offered vocational training in
sustainable farming, hog rearing, bookkeeping and arithmetic,
and advice on how to diversify and grow businesses to help
Work on rebuilding areas hit by Haiyan is
continuing, with President Benigno Aquino only approving a $3.74
billion master plan to rebuild housing, social services and
public infrastructure at the end of October 2014.
Many families had to adjust to survive.
Felipa Balbuana had not worked for years and
is now one of around 20 typhoon survivors working in a factory
in Tacloban, the worst hit city, to produce backpacks and help
supplement her husband's increasingly meager income as a fish
Members of the Leyte Union of Producers of
Agricultural Products, a local farming union, lost their
livelihoods and are working with the International Organization
for Migration (IOM) to use lumber from coconut trees to build
IOM estimates about 130,000 coconut trees
will be salvaged to produce enough lumber to construct 5,800
shelters in three typhoon-affected regions by February 2015.
But while survivors of Haiyan work hard to
rebuild their lives, the devastation and deaths caused by
Haiyan, the deadliest typhoon in the Philippines on record, has
left them concerned about their security and that of their
"The fallen and damaged
coconut trees are our last resources. We have to use our
meagre resources instead of waiting for somebody to help,"
said Noel Inot, 39, a coconut farmer and member of the
(Reporting By Thin
Lei Win, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)
"I do worry about our
future. A storm like that could happen again and next time
we may not survive," said Elizabeth Caramol.
FACTBOX-Typhoon Haiyan one year on
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 5 Nov
2014 07:18 GMT
TACLOBAN, Philippines, Nov 5 (Thomson Reuters
Foundation) - Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm on record to
ever hit land, struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013,
and swept away practically everything in its path.
Author: Thin Lei Win
Workers paint wooden crosses of victims of
Typhoon Haiyan at a mass grave in Tacloban city in central
Philippines, on Nov. 5, 2014. The Philippines are
preparing to commemorate victims of Typhoon Haiyan, ahead
of the one-year anniversary of the disaster on November 8,
according to a local government official. REUTERS/Erik De
Here are some facts and figures about the typhoon and how people
are recovering one year after the storm.
Haiyan was the deadliest disaster of 2013,
leaving 7,200 people dead or missing. The seven-metre storm
surges destroyed about 90 percent of the capital of Leyte
province, Tacloban, which has a population of about 220,000.
Up to 16 million people were affected,
including 4 million who were displaced from their homes. Some
1.1 million homes were damaged.
One year on, the United Nations estimates
that about 95,000 households (475,000 people) are living in
unsafe or inadequate makeshift shelters, and are highly
vulnerable because of their limited ability to recover without
The Philippines government has a six-year,
$3.80 billion master plan to rebuild devastated areas, construct
about 200,000 homes and provide more sustainable jobs for 2.6
million people living below the poverty line.
Almost a year after the disaster, the mayor
of Tacloban, one of the worst-affected cities, said that fewer
than 100 of 14,500 promised permanent homes have been built. He
also said 3,000 people were still living in danger zones,
including many in tents.
As of September this year, the government has
completed about six km of 116 km of damaged major roads, six of
43 damaged ports, 213 of 19,600 classrooms and three of 34
The United Nations has received a total of
$845 million, including cash and in-kind donations. Private
individuals and organisations have been the most charitable
donors, providing $190 million, followed by the United Kingdom
with $123 million.
(Sources: Reuters, the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of Presidential
Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, National Disaster
Risk Reduction and Management Council)
(Reporting by Thin Lei Win, editing by Alisa Tang)
One year after devastating super typhoon, Philippines approves
Source: Reuters - Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:12 AM Author:
MANILA, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Almost a year after a super
typhoon devastated wide areas of the central Philippines killing
thousands, President Benigno Aquino only this week approved a
$3.74 billion master plan to rebuild housing, social services
and public infrastructure.
A Philippine flag flutters
over signs at an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in
Tacloban city, Philippines, November 24, 2013.
Typhoon Haiyan wiped out or damaged practically everything in
its path as it swept ashore on Nov. 8, 2013, with seven-metre
storm surges destroying around 90 percent of the city of
Tacloban in Leyte province.
Haiyan killed or left missing close to 8,000 people and
displaced as many as four million.
It was not immediatley clear why Aquino's approval took so long
but the mayor of Tacloban said on Tuesday fewer than 100 of
14,500 promised permanent homes had been built there and that
thousands were still living in danger zones, including in
The government has blamed the delays on
bureaucracy, availability of land for resettlement and
"The national government's commitment (is) to implement over
25,000 rehabilitation and recovery specific plans, programmes
and activities," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told
reporters in Malacanang presidential palace on Thursday.
"The recovery plans are based on the principle of 'build back
better' by focusing on long-term, sustainable efforts to reduce
vulnerabilities and strengthen capacities of communities to cope
with future hazard events."
Apart from housing concerns, data from the Office of
Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery showed
the government had rebuilt only six km of 116 km of damaged
The data, as of September this year, shows the government has
completed only six of 43 damaged ports, 213 of 19,600
classrooms, 21 of 161 civic centres and three of 34 bridges.
The government plan foresees more than 205,000 permanent houses
being built for about four million people. The six-year plan was
prepared in August but only signed on Wednesday.
The government has released about 51.9 billion pesos ($1.15
billion) for the initial recovery work but only 450 homes would
be completed and ready for turn over to displaced families on
Nov. 8, the first year anniversary of the typhoon.
About 75.6 billion pesos would be spent on new townships where
homes, once built, would be able to withstand winds of 250 kph.
Alison Kent, Oxfam humanitarian policy adviser, said some
administrative processes and land governance issues were to
blame for delays in moving thousands of people from tents to
"We feel local authorities, right now, are struggling to find
and acquire appropriate and safe land for resettlement sites,"
Politics and corruption could also be reasons, said Rosario
Bella Guzman, head of research of Ibon Foundation, an
independent development agency.
"Some government agencies are saying that
the fund releases from the government did not end up for
what they were intended," Guzman said. ($1 = 45
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Nine months on, Philippines plans $3.9-bln effort to relocate
typhoon Haiyan victims
Source: Reuters - Fri, 1 Aug 2014 11:17 AM Author:
Typhoon survivors are seen
at the entrance of a temporary shelter nearly 100 days
after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in
central Philippines February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De
MANILA, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The Philippines will spend 170 billion
pesos ($3.89 billion) to rehouse some 200,000 families displaced
by last year's super typhoon Haiyan that killed 6,100 people,
the government said in a masterplan released on Friday.
It has taken a startling nine months to hammer out the plan
because crippling bureaucracy entailed lengthy vetting, say
government consultants, and sparse technical data on geological
hazards and land use plans held up relocation decisions.
Thousands of displaced families remain in makeshift tents or
substandard temporary shelter areas, but all-out reconstruction
will begin soon after President Benigno Aquino approves the
plan, although it is not clear when this will happen.
"We are confident the rehabilitation efforts will now shift
to high gear," said Panfilo Lacson, presidential
assistant for rehabilitation and recovery.
"We are hoping to achieve at least 80 percent completion of
these priority projects before the end of the president's term,"
he added. Aquino's term runs until June 2016.
About a million homeowners will also receive shelter assistance
under the plan for houses that were either destroyed or
partially damaged, said Lacson, a former senator.
The effort will also help build sturdier government facilities,
such as schools and evacuation centres, besides providing
livelihood and training assistance for farmers, fishermen and
those who raise livestock.
Lacson said the budget department had made available about 137
billion pesos this year, with the rest to be released in next
year's budget, and promised transparency in project funding.
The slow pace of government reconstruction work has attracted
"It's alarming that as the typhoon season starts, we still see
tents in Tacloban," said Prospero de Vera, a professor of public
administration at the University of the Philippines.
Tacloban, the main city on the Philippines' central island of
Leyte, was a wasteland after Haiyan destroyed about 80 percent
of houses made of light materials, and is slowly returning to
"The normalcy in the lives of the people has not returned until
now in Tacloban, and that is the biggest disaster of all," added
By July, Manila had released more than 35 billion pesos in aid
after Haiyan, the budget department has said, spent on food and
temporary shelter areas for displaced families, as well as to
rebuild some public buildings.
But that amount is just a drop in the bucket, with state funds
and loans from lenders such as the World Bank and the Asian
Development Bank and bilateral sources committed to typhoon
rehabilitation reaching at least $4 billion.
Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons to ever hit land, tore
through the central Philippines last November, reducing most of
what was in its path to rubble in tsunami-like surges and
driving nearly 4 million people from their homes.
The pace of government reconstruction slowed after Aquino last
year abolished congressional allocations, called "pork barrel"
funds, because bureaucrats were too careful in signing
Last month, the Supreme Court declared illegal the president's
stimulus fund, prompting impeachment cases to be filed against
Aquino in the wake of the decision. ($1=43.7500 Philippine
pesos) (Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Clarence
Philippine province proves mass storm deaths can be avoided
By Rosemarie Francisco
Source: Reuters - Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:00 PM
A couple wades in floodwaters
brought by tropical depression "Agaton" in Kabadbaran,
Agusan del Norte, in the southern Philippine island of
Mindanao January 19, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
MANILA, July 24 (Reuters) - Nearly 100 people were killed in the
Philippines last week when Typhoon Rammasun roared through,
raising doubts about efforts to end the heavy tolls from storms
that are only expected to get more intense as the global climate
But in Albay province, which bore the brunt of the strongest
storm in the new typhoon season, no one was killed, proving that
deaths can be prevented provided there is the will to force
people to do what is necessary to save their own lives.
"Tools of leadership are lacking," Joey Salceda, the three-term
governor of Albay told Reuters when asked about the tally of
casualties in other provinces.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, and recently
they have been getting stronger. Meteorologists say that as
ocean temperatures rise, storms will get more dangerous.
Late last year, Typhoon Haiyan became the strongest storm to hit
land anywhere, killing more than 6,100 people, most along the
east coast of central Philippine islands as it whipped up
tsunami-like storm surges.
Since the shock of Haiyan, the central government and its
agencies have been more active in their risk assessments and
recommendations of pre-emptive measures.
But Salceda says it is up to provincial governments, not the
central government, to use their powers to force people to take
steps to save themselves, and if that is to happen, provincial
authorities have to get to grips with what has to be done.
"Local executives need more training, they are still struggling
to grasp what it really takes to make people act," he said.
"It's a failure to communicate, failure to ensure household
Salceda's efforts clearly work, as the clean sheet on deaths
attest, even as the storm destroyed 6.2 billion pesos ($143
million) worth of crops and property in his province.
Salceda says he has at times used "shock therapy" to get people
moving to avoid the storms that regularly roar in from the
He described the bemused reaction of citizens to his order to
close schools while skies were clear, a day before a typhoon was
due to strike.
He uses relief supplies as a tool, offering residents of
low-lying areas emergency rice packs but only if they moved into
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction designated Albay a
role model for disaster risk reduction in 2012, highlighting its
massive communications campaign in preventing casualties.
'NOT SO INTERESTED'
Salceda agreed that getting word out, through every channel
available, was vital.
The province also sends out advisories over mobile phones to
about 12,000 village leaders and officials and has a smartphone
app for warnings.
"I aired warnings over my Facebook. I
probably had 100 interviews over the radio, over and
over," he said of the latest storm.
Albay has tried to pass on the secrets of its success to other
provinces but officials elsewhere often don't seem to take the
lessons to heart. That was perhaps partly because other
provinces are not hit by storms as often as Albay, Salceda said.
But it also comes down to money: other provinces just do not
allocate enough funds for disaster management.
Albay passed a law in 1994 creating a disaster management office
with permanent staff and its own budget to sustain its mandate
despite inevitable changes of political leaders. The province
has seen storm deaths in only two of the 20 years since then,
Provincial governors and city mayors are elected every three
years, and can serve at most three terms, so setting up a
structure that survives leadership changes was vital, said Ramon
Isberto, president of the Corporate Network for Disaster
"You've got to make it permanent, you've got to give it a budget
of its own and you've got to make it professional," said
Isberto, whose group tries to help businesses and communities
prepare for disasters.
"It survives and does not collapse when governors change,"
Isberto said of Albay's disaster management office.
Isberto said in some places, there was just not the political
will to save lives.
"Some are not so interested, they are not as committed," Isberto
said, adding that his group has had to drop some communities
from its programme because leaders did not care.
The Philippines was ranked the world's third most disaster-prone
country on the World Disaster Report of 2012, and Isberto said
communities had to adapt to climate change.
"What if we had not just one, but 10 Albays in different parts
of the country? Or better yet what if there are 20, or 30?,"
Isberto told a disaster forum of government, business and
humanitarian officials on Tuesday.
"Wouldn't the country be a better place?" (Additional reporting
by Karen Lema and Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Robert Birsel and
Filipinos lack climate protection on the ground, despite laws
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 28
May 2014 12:58 PM Author: Imelda V. Abano
A family peeks out of a
makeshift shelter on the Philippine coast in Marabut,
Eastern Samar, after their dilapidated house was devastated
by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. TRF/Imelda Albano
MANILA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Progress in rebuilding the
Philippine city of Tacloban and the lives of its residents
devastated by Typhoon Haiyan last November has been
painstakingly slow, according to the city’s mayor Alfred
And while driving forward recovery from the disaster, the local
authorities must also work out how best to deal with extreme
weather in the future – which is expected to get worse as the
"Climate change is a reality, and we are experiencing that
already," Romualdez told a recent planning session with
international aid agencies working on the post-typhoon
Local governments urgently need to organise themselves so they
can fund and put into practice measures to adapt to
climate-linked hazards like storms, floods and droughts, the
“It will not be easy for a city that lost scores of lives,
saw its infrastructure damaged, and was left with almost
nothing,” Romualdez emphasised.
At national level, the Philippines does have policies,
regulations and laws in place that mandate action to manage
disaster risk and tackle climate change. But implementing these
locally is proving harder, government officials and lawmakers
Beyond helping communities shattered by Haiyan to rebuild their
homes and livelihoods, Filipino lawmakers also face the task of
reviewing and strengthening legislation in order to protect the
country better if another super-typhoon strikes.
“Typhoon Haiyan by itself is more than enough reason to
urgently act on the implementation of climate change laws,” said
Tarlac Province Representative Susan Yap. Challenges include
turning national laws into local action and getting government
agencies to coordinate their plans, she added.
MONEY IN LIMBO
The government must also make sure it provides adequate funding
“year in and year out”, said Yap, who chairs the Philippine
chapter of the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE
International), a network of parliamentarians advocating for
action on climate change and sustainable development.
“The People's Survival Fund Law”, signed in August 2012, is the
first piece of Philippine legislation aimed at financing early
plans to help communities deal with climate impacts. It outlines
priorities including food security and sustainable energy.
The law provides for at least 1 billion Philippine pesos ($22.8
million) per year in government spending and international donor
aid for climate change adaptation initiatives led by local
governments and communities. But the president has yet to sign
an amendment to the Climate Change Act that would promulgate the
implementing rules and regulations required to make the People's
Survival Fund (PSF) operational.
In the past two years, the PSF has been allocated P500 million,
but the sources of the money have yet to be determined, so it
cannot be accessed by local governments. Earlier this month,
environmental activists urged the government to mobilise the PSF
and finance it from the national budget.
“What the people and Congress have been clamouring for is
the release of the funds appropriated for the implementation of
the laws,” said GLOBE Philippines Director Christopher Estallo.
Not enough funding has been provided so far to roll out laws and
projects to build resilience to climate change and disasters,
nor has there been adequate monitoring and accountability for
the limited resources that are available, he added.
Climate Change Commission Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering told
Thomson Reuters Foundation she expects the PSF to be fully
funded in 2015 through the national budget, and in a position to
hand out cash for projects.
ACTIVE LEGAL RESPONSE
The Philippines government has responded actively to the
challenge of climate change by creating relevant legislation and
new institutions, Sering argued.
As a result, the country does not lack laws to adapt to climate
change impacts, mitigate global warming and help communities
become more resilient to disasters, she said.
The 2009 Climate Change Act established the Climate Change
Commission which is tasked with coordinating, monitoring and
evaluating government climate programmes and action plans. The
commission developed a National Framework Strategy on Climate
Change in 2010 and a National Climate Change Action Plan in
The action plan addresses food and water security, ecosystem and
environmental stability, human security, sustainable energy,
climate-smart industries and services, and knowledge and
Up to 2016, its focus is on assessing vulnerability, developing
‘eco-towns’, and conducting research to support renewable energy
and sustainable transport systems.
It also provides guidance for local governments to formulate and
implement their own climate change action plans, Sering said.
“We are measuring success on how well we respond in the short
term, and yet local plans are still not based on (local)
vulnerabilities,” she told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Haiyan
exposed how a reactionary response is no longer sufficient.”
There is a need to plan for both sudden emergencies and
slower-onset problems, she added.
Challenges include raising awareness at local level,
coordinating government activities, and rolling out initiatives
at a larger scale, GLOBE’s Estallo said. “There have been a lot
of laws that are very good, but implementation is a perpetual
issue,” he added.
The budget for reducing the risk of disasters should not be
limited to the minimum P1billion required by law, but
supplemented by additional spending across government
departments dealing with related areas such as infrastructure or
science, Sering said.
For 2014, the government has allocated a total of P13 billion
for climate change action to various ministries. Most of it will
be used for the production of maps plotting multiple hazards,
early warning systems and infrastructure to help reduce risks,
SETTING A GLOBAL EXAMPLE
Legislator Yap called for three additional pieces of important
climate change-related legislation to be passed urgently. One is
a bill to protect the country’s rapidly declining mangrove
areas, which act as a coastal buffer zone against storms.
Two more draft bills provide for sustainable management of
forests and the delineation of forest boundaries, setting out a
solid foundation for forest conservation and development
efforts, Yap said.
Laws also need to be updated regularly “in order to adapt
properly and effectively to the challenges of climate change”,
Estallo said. “We may have sufficient legislation to address our
climate and disaster woes now, but we cannot be sure about that
tomorrow,” he warned.
In Estallo’s view, domestic legislation on climate change is
“crucial not only as a first line of defence for our people
facing the threats of climate change but also for facilitating
the environment necessary for international cooperation.”
The Philippines, along with several other developing countries,
has passed key legislation on climate change, which must now be
replicated internationally to achieve a global multiplier
effect, Estallo said.
In the Philippines, GLOBE now plans to push forward policies and
legislation that will move the Southeast Asian nation towards a
low-carbon green economy. It also intends to strengthen
legislators’ influence on the country’s negotiating position at
U.N. climate talks, which are due to agree a new pact to tackle
climate change at the end of 2015.
“When there is a critical mass in the number of countries taking
the necessary action on climate change, grounded in domestic
legislation, they will be in a better position to sign up to the
commitments and actions required under a global deal,” Estallo
Imelda Abano is a freelance contributor for the Thomson Reuters
Foundation based in Manila.
This story is part of a series of articles, funded by the
COMplus Alliance and the World Bank, looking at progress and
challenges in developing nations’ efforts to legislate on
climate change, ahead of the June 6-8 World Summit of
Legislators in Mexico City, organised by the Global Legislators
Organisation (GLOBE International).
Typhoon season threatens Philippines Haiyan survivors
Author: Thin Lei Win More news from our correspondents
Source: - Thu, 8 May 2014 11:40 AM Author: Thin Lei Win
A view of temporary shelters
for typhoon survivors that were constructed next to a ship
that ran aground is pictured nearly 100 days after super
Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central
Philippines February 14, 2014 REUTERS/Erik De Castro
BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Six months after super
storm Haiyan devastated central Philippines, another typhoon
season is looming, threatening a further crisis for the millions
of survivors still living in poor housing and struggling to
recover their income, aid agencies say.
Aid workers also warned of a shortage of evacuation centres in
some coastal areas that are vulnerable to storms in the
disaster-prone Southeast Asian country.
More than 5,000 Filipino families still in live in evacuation
centres and some 380,000 households need critical, urgent
assistance with shelter, the United Nations said.
"(We are) concerned about the potential for a
significant humanitarian crisis during the imminent cyclone
season," it said in a statement released Monday.
About 20 typhoons hit the Southeast Asian country each year,
often bringing death and destruction. The southwest monsoon
lasts from June to September but typhoons often make landfall
long after the rainy season has ended.
A recent study by the International Organization for Migration
(IOM) in Eastern Samar, where Haiyan made its first landfall,
found that the area was unprepared for future typhoons, with
more than 90 percent of designated evacuation centres such as
schools, churches and community centres destroyed or badly
"It's a situation where the substantial population has no
recourse in the case of a typhoon. They would potentially have
to ride it out outside," Brad Mellicker, IOM's head of
office in Samar Province, told Thomson Reuters Foundation by
"Haiyan itself raised vulnerabilities and
exposures to new disasters quite enormously and considering
the typhoon risks that exist in the region, it's a major
concern," Mellicker said. "Additional infrastructure
should be built as soon as possible, beginning now."
REBUILDING LIVES, HOMES AND INCOME
Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm ever to make landfall,
killed nearly 8,000 people, damaged 1.1 million houses and
affected up to 14 million people when it hit on Nov 8. Damage
and losses were estimated at around $12.9 billion.
It also damaged the livelihoods of six million workers, of which
some 2.6 million were already living at or near the poverty line
before the storm hit.
"Shelter and livelihoods are the two biggest needs that we have
to attend to," said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the
Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which is embarking on a three-year,
$365 million recovery plan.
"Our first concern is of course the upcoming typhoon season.
We're wondering whether storms will hit the same area, how will
the people cope, and how will we be able to scale up our work,"
Both the Red Cross and IOM say there is an urgent need to expand
shelter and livelihoods assistance programmes further before
monsoon but admit the sheer scale of the disaster is a
"Many aid agencies and the government have scaled up quite
substantially over the past months ... but relative to the scale
of the emergency, it still remains a drop in the bucket," IOM's
Funding shortfalls pose another problem.
"The shelter cluster is only 33 percent funded despite being
second biggest component, after agriculture, of the U.N.'s
strategic plan. And the IFRC appeal for 126 million Swiss
francs ($144 million) is 64 percent funded," said Kate
Marshall, spokesperson for the International Federation of the
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Philippines.
IFRC coordinates international aid agencies' work on shelter
under the United Nations' "cluster" system.
"If more funding isn't forthcoming it's likely
the recovery plan will be lessened in scope, having a
detrimental impact on thousands of disadvantaged families,"
Haiyan survivors worry about resettlement sites, homes, jobs
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 22 Jan
2014 04:04 PM Author: Thin Lei Win
Victims of super typhoon
Haiyan pick up pieces of plywood beside cargo ships that
were driven ashore by the typhoon at battered Tacloban city,
central Philippines. Picture December 22, 2013,
TACLOBAN, Philippines (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Immediately
after super typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines,
Marilyn Ocena gathered her family of 11 and left Tacloban.
Traumatised by the typhoon, they wanted to get as far from the
sea as possible, and walked for almost a day to reach a town
Now the 47-year-old wonders whether it would have been better if
they had all perished in the storm that hit the coast on Nov.
8. “At least then we would be together as a family,” she
said, welling up in tears at the prospect of her family having
to split up before long.
The Ocenas, back in Tacloban after failing to find jobs
elsewhere, want to go back to fishing. But the government
has declared the coastal area where they used to live and work a
‘no-build’ zone after huge waves whipped up by Haiyan swept away
many coastal communities.
The Philippines has an average of 20 typhoons a year and the
government has ruled that in future no one may live less than 40
metres from the shoreline.
Experts agree that there should be no human settlements in
coastal areas and on riverbanks, and Haiyan survivors
acknowledge the dangers.
Yet a lack of information on when and where resettlement
will take place have left thousands of people worried and
uncertain about their future. Many are concerned there will be
no jobs at resettlement sites and they have received little
help in finding alternative livelihoods.
Recent complaints that temporary shelters being built by
the government are overpriced and substandard have added to the
DEPENDENT ON AID
Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm ever to make landfall,
killed nearly 8,000 people and damaged 1.1 million houses. Over
4 million people remain displaced.
Many of the displaced, like the Ocenas, are relying on handouts
to get by. The Ocenas fear they will be relocated somewhere
inland, far from the only life and jobs they have known.
“My husband says he has to live by the coast to continue
working but myself and the kids could go to the resettlement
place,” Ocena said, standing outside the tent they’re
sharing with another family.
“That’s not good. It means we’ll be separated,” she
A few minutes down the road lives Richard Padelia, in one of 40
tents provided by the United Nations. The 34-year-old father of
four used to live across the street, but his home was destroyed
and where it stood is now a ‘no-build’ zone.
He used to be a rental car driver but lost his vehicle in the
storm and has been unable to find a full-time job since.
“I try to be a driver for other people’s cars but that’s only
for one day a week and I get only 300 pesos ($6.70),” he
said. Like the Ocenas, his family depends on aid, and he does
not know when or where they will move to.
The government, which has been building temporary shelters to
house the displaced - including those whose homes are in
‘no-build’ zones - has denied allegations of corruption after
media reports said the bunkhouses, as they’re known locally, may
cost much less than the government’s price tag of 959,360 Pesos
Each shelter has 24 units and each unit, measuring 8.64 square
metres, can house one family. The shared toilets, shower
and cooking area are at the back.
At one site Thomson Reuters Foundation visited, a worker said
the roofs of some units had leaked during heavy rains in the
past weeks. At another, the rains have left green, stagnant
water under the units.
Some survivors, like Marvin Tabataña, weary of uncertainty about
the future, are starting to rebuild in ’no-build zones’ despite
the risk of being removed.
Tabatana, a 33-year-old tricycle driver, is rebuilding his
family’s single-storey home, very close to the shoreline,
surrounded by debris left by the typhoon.
Tabataña, his wife and their three children are currently living
with another family on higher ground, but the makeshift space is
too small and it could be months before they have to move, he
said. Meanwhile, they need a proper roof over their heads.
It cost him 20,000 pesos ($440) to buy the materials, using
money he received from Tzu Chi, a Taiwanese Buddhist Foundation,
and part of the cash he and his wife received for clearing
debris. He’s doing the building work himself to save labour
costs and hopes to finish it in a week.
Marvin’s neighbour, Junisha Yu, who has lived on the coast for
36 years, has different worries. She has heard that the houses
at the resettlement site chosen for them are too small and there
“But we cannot do anything if the national
government wants to force us out,” she sighed.
Philippines mulls disaster risk insurance for local
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 22 Jan
2014 03:05 PM Author: Imelda V. Abano
Pedro Lacandazo, 57, explains
how seawater brought by the storm surge from super typhoon
Haiyan flooded his house up to the ceiling and separated him
from his family, in San Joaquin town at Palo, Leyte
province, central Philippines, on December 23,
MANILA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In response to the
destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November and many
other natural hazards in the past few years, Philippine
government officials and the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk
Reduction (UNISDR) are looking into an insurance scheme targeted
at local governments as a way to improve the Asian nation’s
resilience to disasters.
On Tuesday, at a high-level forum on the issue held at the
Office of the Senate, UNISDR and the global re-insurance
companies Willis Re and Munich Re presented the Philippines Risk
and Insurance Scheme for Municipalities (PRISM), which would
provide speedy budgetary support to local government units in
the event of a natural catastrophe.
“The Philippines is hit by over 20 typhoons every year. What is
needed is a simple scheme which will provide valuable protection
to people and municipalities before the next typhoon season,”
UNISDR head Margareta Wahlström said in a statement issued
before the forum in Manila.
“In order to be successful it will require mandatory take-up by
local government units, but it will make them masters of their
own destiny when it comes to responding to relief and recovery
needs in the wake of a major disaster event,” she added.
Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people, destroyed or
damaged some 1.5 million homes, and caused economic losses of
around $13 billion.
“Filipinos are known to be a resilient lot. Unfortunately,
the same cannot be said of our infrastructure, schools, our
cities and even our economy,” Senator Loren Legarda,
chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, told the forum.
“It is more economical and efficient to make our communities
resilient to disasters than to be held hostage by the
exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities
every time a typhoon, storm surge or earthquake hits.”
LOW INSURANCE PENETRATION
The government has yet to decide whether it will launch an
insurance scheme for all or some of its 1,500 or so
municipalities and, if so, what form it would take and how it
would be funded.
But Jerry Velasquez, UNISDR’s head of advocacy and outreach,
told Thomson Reuters Foundation the PRISM proposal had been
developed in response to interest from Manila.
“There is still a lot of focus on response and (reducing)
mortality (in the Philippines). The number of people dying in
disasters is going down, but the real challenge is economic
losses,” he said by phone from the Philippine capital. “Insurance
is a means of shifting the focus from saving lives to also
According to global financial consultancy firm PwC, the
Philippines has one of the lowest insurance penetration rates in
the world as measured by premiums as a percentage of gross
domestic product (GDP), at about 1 percent.
The reasons for this include premiums that are too high for many
people to afford and low awareness about how insurance works,
Under the PRISM proposal, the payment of claims would not be
based on actual losses but on a pre-agreed amount when a
specific trigger, such as the amount of rainfall or wind speeds,
tops a certain pre-agreed threshold.
“Once one trigger has been exceeded, a payment will be made
through the scheme manager to the local government unit and
this can be used for rescue, relief, recovery or rebuilding
depending on needs assessments,” said Ernst Rauch, head of
Munich Re’s Corporate Climate Centre.
The scheme could become a key part of a broader national
catastrophe risk management programme, and insurance cover could
be adjusted to reward disaster risk reduction efforts undertaken
by municipalities, Rauch added.
One major question, however, is how local governments would pay
the premiums for disaster risk insurance.
The country’s Climate Change Commission Secretary Lucille Sering
said any such scheme should operate through the Government
Service Insurance System, and local authorities could tap a 1
billion peso ($22 million) government-backed disaster fund to
help them purchase insurance cover.
“We have an existing fund already under the law - the
People's Survival Fund (PSF) - that can be used to subsidise
the initial premium of risk insurance,” Sering told
Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We just need to ask the
government for it.”
The PSF, which is appropriated annually, is intended to assist
local governments in their efforts to adapt to climate change
and reduce disaster risk, including projects to manage water
resources, make agriculture more resilient, protect health and
develop infrastructure, Sering explained.
Speaking at the Manila forum, Senate President Franklin Drilon
said insurance would protect “individuals and communities
from financial suffering in the aftermath of natural
disasters”. “But we can all agree on the fact that insurance
is not a silver bullet for risk management and risk
reduction,” he added.
Philippine policy makers should examine disaster risk insurance
carefully, since it “is something that is new to many of us”,
Drilon urged. He expressed concern that it might be difficult to
agree on such a “paradigm shift” within the few months before
the start of the next storm season.
UNISDR’s Velasquez said Typhoon Haiyan and any subsequent
initiative by Manila to trial catastrophe insurance on a large
scale could mark a “turning point” in the involvement of the
financial sector in disaster risk reduction at local government
“We would like (the Philippines) to
lead the whole world in terms of this kind of innovation,”
Imelda Abano is a freelance contributor for the Thomson Reuters
Foundation based in Manila. AlertNet Climate staff writer Megan
Rowling contributed additional reporting and writing.
Philippine authorities urged to climate-proof cities, coastal
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 22 Jan 2014 09:53 AM
Author: Imelda V. Abano
A man sits on the roof of his
house, which is submerged by floods caused by tropical
depression "Agaton", in Butuan on the southern Philippine
island of Mindanao, Jan. 21, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
MANILA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The Philippines urgently
needs to improve the ability of its cities and coastal areas to
cope with climate change and minimise the risks from extreme
weather events, such as powerful storm surges, in the wake of
Typhoon Haiyan, experts say.
Worsening climate impacts in the Southeast Asian nation - from
droughts to stronger and more frequent typhoons, increased
flooding and sea-level rise along the coast - can no longer be
ignored, according to a study of 12 cities released in
mid-January by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Bank
of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Foundation.
Growing climate risks must be a signal for the government to
pool its resources, including funding for climate-appropriate
technology, skills, infrastructure and systems, to reduce the
impact of related disasters, the study said.
It was released two months after Typhoon Haiyan (known locally
as Yolanda) devastated the central Philippines, leaving more
than 6,000 people dead, millions homeless and causing almost 600
billion pesos (around $13 billion) in economic damages.
“No one knows where the next big typhoon will hit, so all cities
should prepare ahead,” WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair and CEO Jose
Ma. Lorenzo Tan said in a statement. “Relocating roads and
communities to high ground, constructing seawalls, coastal
barriers and establishing evacuation safe-zones will cost
millions. But will you really put a price tag on Filipino
INVESTING IN BUFFERS
The study looked at the economic vulnerability to climate
impacts of the four disaster-prone cities of Angeles, Batangas,
Naga and Tacloban, as well as Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo,
Cagayan de Oro, Dagupan, Laoag and Zamboanga.
It said geo-hazard maps show the typhoon-devastated city of
Tacloban, for example, is highly susceptible to both flooding
“No one can define the scope and sequence of climate change
with absolute certainty. That being the case, adaptive
capacity becomes an essential asset,” the study said. “An
investment in societal reserves – in the form of both human
and financial capital – provides one reactive buffer to
A key recommendation was to “climate-proof” local
infrastructure, for example by moving coastal roads and
communities to higher ground, improving drainage systems and
investing in natural solutions like mangrove forests.
The Philippines sits along the Pacific typhoon belt and
experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year. It is identified
as the third most vulnerable country to climate change and
extreme weather events in the World Risk Report 2012, issued by
the United Nations University Institute of Environment and Human
The WWF study emphasised that growing population and
urbanisation trends mean that as a city’s footprint expands, its
dependence on external resources increases too.
“With an increasing trend of rural to urban migration, more
people are exposed to risk,” the Philippines' Climate
Change Commission (CCC) Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering told
Thomson Reuters Foundation after the launch of the report.
“Cities - especially growth centres like
Manila, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Baguio and Tacloban -
are not really planned around their vulnerabilities,”
she said. “These cities need to understand climate change
adaptation and how they are vulnerable to natural disasters.
LOCAL ACTION NEEDED
Sering urged local governments to include climate change
adaptation policies in their development strategies. Two
existing laws on climate change and disaster risk reduction and
management “must be seriously integrated in their local
planning”, she emphasised.
In recent years, the national government has begun to shift from
reactive policies to a more proactive stance, with climate
impacts now considered in all planning, Sering said.
Current projects and programmes are focused on climate change
adaptation, disaster reduction, promotion of low-carbon
development based on renewable energy sources, solid waste
management and climate-proofing of infrastructure.
Other programmes implemented last year include vulnerability
assessments of different sectors, especially agriculture, and
the scaling up of an “eco-town framework” to build sustainable
towns such as on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, one of the
country’s poorest areas.
The government is also pushing for a bill that would incorporate
climate change and disaster risk reduction issues into
decision-making on land use, Sering said.
“We are faced by so many challenges, but time is running out
and we need to protect the country and the people from climate
hazards, resource scarcity and damage to ecosystems,”
Disaster risk reduction experts hope that a change in the
national budget, ushered in at the end of 2013 after the
typhoon, will make more funding available to protect people and
property from natural hazards. The Calamity Fund, most of which
was earmarked for response after a disaster, has been replaced
by a new $293 million National Disaster Risk Reduction and
Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who is a champion of climate and
disaster risk management in the Philippines, called for local
climate action plans to make cities more resilient.
“We should have learned our lessons from Typhoon Haiyan.
We need to plan more at the local level, prepare our people
and strengthen our disaster risk management in order to
minimise hazards,” said Salceda, who is also co-chair of
the U.N. Green Climate Fund.
Salceda called on local governments to protect communities
through measures like installing early warning systems,
upgrading weather forecasting equipment and disaster planning
for villages before, during and after extreme events.
“Disasters can be an opportunity for us to look
back and plan for the future of our communities,”
Salceda said. “The goal of governance in disasters is to
allow development to proceed in the midst of all the
uncertainties and risks.”
Imelda Abano is a freelance contributor for the Thomson Reuters
Foundation based in Manila.
-So where did the aid money go
and how effective was it?
Your Money -or Your Life?
Typhoon Preparedness Guide
What To Do Before A Typhoon
- Inspect your house if necessary repair/fixing is
needed. (eg. Roof, doors, windows, ceilings)
- Before typhoon strikes, you must clean up your
house’s drainage system so it won’t get clogged up.
- Store an adequate supply of food and water that
would last for a few days. Canned goods are ideal
especially if cooking is not possible.
- Put everything in your house in an elevated
position especially items that generate electricity
so that water won’t penetrate into them in case
floodwater rushes inside your house.
- Harvest crops that can be yielded immediately.
- For fishing folk, place boats in a safe area.
- If you are living in a lowland, hazard prone
and/or risked areas, the ideal resort is to evacuate
as early as possible.
- Always keep flashlights, candles, and batteries
and first-aid supplies available.
- It is important as well to have an available
transistor radio (battery – powered incase power
supply will be unavailable) so you can be updated
about the typhoon and its current location.
- Frequently listen to your local radio, television
or visit Weather
Philippines for storm advisories on the
progress of the typhoon.
What To Do During A Typhoon
- Stay inside the house and keep calm. Postpone any
- Monitor to your local radio, television or visit Weather Philippines
for storm advisories on the progress of the typhoon.
- In case of flooding, turn off the main sources of
electricity to prevent electrical accidents.
- Avoid wading through flooded areas to avoid
- Do not operate any electrical equipment during a
- Do not use gas or electrical appliances that have
- Keep an eye on lighted candles or gas lamps.
- Heed the advice of the local authorities if they
ask you to evacuate your area. If there is a need to
move to an evacuation center, follow these reminders:
- Evacuate calmly.
- Close the windows and turn off the main power
- Put important appliances and belongings in a
- Avoid the way leading to or along the river.
What To Do After A Typhoon
- Monitor to your radio, television or visit Weather Philippines
for storm advisories on the progress of the typhoon.
- Check your house for damage and make necessary
repairs at once. Avoid scattered debris especially tin
and lumber as there may be rusty nails protruding.
- Wear proper safety gear and equipment when working
in hazardous areas.
- If your house was damaged, make sure that it is
already safe and stable when you enter.
- Have a knowledgeable person inspect electrical
connections before using electrical appliances.
- Watch out for live wires or outlet immersed in
- Report damaged electrical cables and fallen electric
posts to the authorities.
- Beware of dangerous animals such as snakes that may
have entered your house.
- Boil water before drinking it to avoid diseases.
- Avoid contaminated food resulting from the lack of
electricity and refrigeration.
- Do not let water accumulate in tires, cans or pots
to avoid creating a favorable condition for mosquito
breeding that can cause dengue.
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