Happy children on Leyte after Response Teams pitched the last of the first shipment of 500 tents on the island, Philippines, December 2013. Photo by Rob Partridge.
Four Fridays ago the savagery of Typhoon Haiyan rocked the Philippines and shocked the world, killing an estimated 5,600 and leaving millions to rebuild their homes and lives. But, one month on, ShelterBox has already committed enough aid for 6,432 families, and is the only shelter agency to have reached some remote islands.
• A Response Team of 24 highly-trained disaster relief experts on the ground
• Enough aid – tents and vital equipment – to help 6,432 families
• A spend so far of £1.6 million
• Working in partnership with other charities and Philippine, Australian and Royal Navies
• A commitment to stay into 2014 to get the job done
These are the headlines from the first month in ShelterBox’s response to Typhoon Haiyan, which struck on 8 November. In one of its largest operations since the Japanese tsunami or the Haitian Earthquake, ShelterBox has now committed enough shelter for 6,432 families in the Philippines.
ShelterBoxes being unloaded from the C130 aircraft into Tacloban, with the help of the Philippines Navy, Philippines, December 2013. Photo by Rob Partridge.
ShelterBox had a tactical advantage in already having teams and equipment in Bohol before the typhoon struck. They had been responding to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that occurred on 15 October, a national holiday. The team were able to help those already made homeless by the earthquake to prepare for Typhoon Haiyan, and to provide shelter once it had passed over.
Rapidly ShelterBox was then able to deploy aid and more Response Teams. Tents and ShelterBoxes were airlifted into Cebu City airport, or by air and sea via Manila, in partnership with global children’s charity Plan International. Stocks were brought in from Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, others from Melbourne. More supplies were packed by volunteers at ShelterBox’s UK headquarters.
Cebu Island and Leyte Island were directly in the path of the 300-mile wide typhoon. Heavily-populated Tacloban on Leyte was all but destroyed with huge loss of life, and ShelterBox is now working in and around the city.
As there was a concentration of international aid activity on Cebu, ShelterBox began to look towards the smaller outer islands where it felt its readily-transportable aid could make a real difference. Much of its recent work has been focused on Bantayan Island, and it has since arranged tent delivery by inflatable RIB to tiny Malapascua Island.
‘Challenging aid programme’
ShelterBox Chief Executive, Alison Wallace, said, ‘This has been, and continues to be, a complex and challenging aid programme. Everywhere you look there is damage, wrecked buildings and broken infrastructure. We will be in the Philippines for at least the next two months. But there is also a determination to rebuild homes and livelihoods, working with organisations like ShelterBox.
‘I am so glad that we are able to help, and immensely proud of our response teams and other professionals who are giving people a new beginning. If you have helped us by donating or fundraising, a sincere thank you for your generosity.’