Two years on, Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan support ‘restores hope and dignity’ to more than 880,000 people
Two years after Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name, Yolanda) devastated the central Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross and its Red Cross and Red Crescent movement partners - including Irish Red Cross - have helped hundreds of thousands of families get back on their feet. 

Safer homes, health facilities and classrooms have been built; financial support and training has been provided to boost livelihoods and ensure the health of thousands more is improved through access to better sanitation.

As of the end of October, the Red Cross Haiyan Recovery Programme had directly reached more than 880,000 people with shelter, livelihood support, water, sanitation, health and education programmes.

Continued efforts in the Philippines, assisted by our Irish Red Cross Delegate Mriganko Bhattacharjee, have helped highlight issues still to be tackled in the ongoing recovery in the largest western Island.

The Irish Red Cross in partnership with Swiss Red Cross is supporting the recovery operation, specifically in the province of northern Palawan.

The Irish Red Cross is the lead in implementing the livelihoods programme, an initiative aimed at redressing the issues caused by the devastation and disruption of many traditional sources of income and other means of survival such as fishing and agriculture. Livelihoods recovery was of prime concern for affected communities as they strove to regain their economic stability.

Targeting nine communities in two municipalities; Busuanga and Coron, the programme focuses on livelihoods recovery through the provision of household level cash grants, training and small business development.

Following the identification and verification of targeted households for receipt of the first phase of household livelihoods assistance, the programme is supporting 774 households with grants. Priority was given to those who lacked the resources to restore their livelihood and shelter. These people were affected by a high level of damage and received only limited assistance from other key stakeholders.

In consultation with key stakeholders, detailed training plans for all nine communities have been prepared. Preparations for this next stage are ongoing, including: homestead agroforestry, livestock production, fish processing, small enterprise development and management.

In addition, specialised sessions will be facilitated by external technical experts on topics such as sea-weed cultivation, fish harvesting, savings and credit.

During the relief phase in the months following Haiyan, the Red Cross reached 1.3 million people with emergency assistance which included cash payments to more than 90,000 families to meet their immediate needs. This was one of the biggest emergency cash distributions in the Red Cross’s history.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will continue its work to empower communities, families and individuals to build back and improve their lives with safer homes and sustainable livelihoods until the operations are completed by mid-2016.’ says Kari Isomaa, Head of Delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) in the Philippines.

The Philippine Red Cross’ Haiyan Recovery programme, which is supported by the IFRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and partner national societies, has so far built and repaired more than 65,000 homes in nine affected provinces, reaching 80 per cent of the target of 80,000 houses.

More than 59,000 households have received cash to restore their livelihoods. While the majority elected to buy livestock and seeds, some used existing skills to set up a small business selling food, clothes or craftwork.

Also under the livelihood programme, more than 1,000 young people from vulnerable households are completing skills training courses ranging from housekeeping to welding and automotive qualifications.

Progress in the Philippines continues, and Mriganko continues to manage the Irish Red Cross operation in this area, in conjunction with his Swiss colleagues.