When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines almost a year ago, experts called it ‘a true one hundred year event.’ As other charities and the world’s media descended upon Tacloban, ShelterBox concentrated its efforts upon trying to reach the more remote islands, assisting families whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the storm and for whom there seemed little hope of help.
As has been the case in the past, offers of assistance for logistics began to trickle in to ShelterBox’s operation team and before long the offer of freight from Dubai to the Philippines was made to the team. Upon consultation and examination of the situation, ShelterBox’s logistics experts decided that sending tents would be the more effective first response aid, which was then followed by ShelterBoxes and other aid items. Several teams were deployed at once and soon ShelterBox had established a vast network of response teams operating across several islands working to get aid to families as fast as was possible under the challenging conditions.
As the momentum of ShelterBox’s response grew, and as a result of our donors overwhelming support, we took great pride in reporting stories of beneficiaries moving into ShelterBox tents. However it quickly became clear to us that a longer-term commitment was needed to fully accomplish what donors had entrusted us to achieve.
After around three months the need for tents for emergency shelter in the region was diminishing, but there remained a need for humanitarian assistance for these communities left still reeling from the devastation of the disaster.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have maintained our commitment to the Philippines and are extending the type of help we are able to offer these communities. As we strive to develop into a global leader in shelter provision, we are embracing new ways of responding to the needs of communities affected by disasters. And so it was that alongside tents, ShelterBox response teams also began to distribute Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.
Working in collaboration
ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we began to investigate opportunities to collaborate with partners in the Philippines who could help us continue our commitment to helping families affected by Haiyan, several months after the Typhoon had first struck.
After a careful assessment process, we entered into four project partnerships with leading international agencies including ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), Handicap International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which will lead to the construction of nearly 1,700 ‘core transitional’ shelters.
Designed to house a single family, the shelters are being constructed using locally sourced materials, wherever possible, in areas that were in the path of Typhoon Haiyan: in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon first made landfall; in northern Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban; and on the island of Bantayan, in northern Cebu. In each community, a rigorous beneficiary selection process has ensured that we prioritise the most vulnerable.
This will not only provide more than 8,000 vulnerable people with a safe, durable home but will also help to train the wider community in how to ‘build back safer’ as the shelters are designed to withstand further storms. The overall goal being to develop resilience in the region to future disasters.
‘How could we turn our backs when there is so much still to do to help these families rebuild their lives and their homes?’ said ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace. ‘Our generous donors have given ShelterBox the resources and the mandate to continue, so we are responding by adapting the practical help we offer.’
As we approach the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan we thank everyone who donated to our appeal and our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster.