Medair Expands Shelter Relief Programme in the Philippines

by Medair | Medair - Switzerland
Friday, 29 November 2013 16:58 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Staff find that four of every five homes have been damaged or destroyed in Dulag, Leyte Island.

Typhoon Haiyan damaged or destroyed 9,004 houses (81 percent of all homes) in Dulag municipality, a rural region south of Tacloban city on Leyte Island that was at the centre of the storm’s path. With the majority of relief agencies concentrating their efforts on Tacloban, Medair’s emergency team assessed Dulag, where few other relief agencies had visited. We soon identified that shelter was the most urgent unmet need, with approximately 44,000 people out of a population of 53,883 displaced from their homes—all of them in need of shelter at the height of the rainy season.

Our team has begun distributing shelter materials to protect families from the rain, along with chainsaws, shovels, handsaws, wheelbarrows, and other tools to help people clear fallen trees and debris as they begin to rebuild. We have also begun distributing basic sanitary supplies: hygiene kits that include soap, toothpaste, towels, sanitary napkins, and water containers.

Seeing the scale of the devastation and the level of unmet needs on the ground, Medair is expanding its relief activities to include:

  • Emergency shelter materials for 6,000 of the most damaged households in Dulag (two-thirds of all damaged homes). 
  • Technical guidance for 6,000 households about practical disaster-risk-reduction principles that will make their homes increasingly disaster resilient—crucial in a country that suffers an average of 20 typhoons per year. 
  • Construction materials and technical advice for 600 of the most vulnerable families to help them build new disaster-resilient homes, representing a major improvement over their last home. Semi-permanent and easily expandable, each house will consist of a braced structural frame anchored in concrete foundations and a corrugated galvanized iron roof which incorporates standard hurricane detailing. 
  • Repairs to three severely damaged health clinics so they can resume services to the community. We will also provide essential medicines and medical equipment. 
  • Hygiene kits for 5,000 vulnerable households (24,400 people). 

Medair teams are working around the clock to bring immediate relief to Dulag. The sheer size of this disaster combined with the logistical challenges of working in remote places and trying to procure supplies in a disaster zone (where there are ongoing power failures and some airports remain closed) has made it difficult for any agency to act as quickly as they would like.

Our emergency response team has spent many hours in transit including hours on a chartered dive boat to get from Cebu City to Leyte Island. We have met with displaced families, community leaders, governments, and other agencies to determine where the greatest unmet needs are and to make an effective plan for bringing humanitarian aid to Dulag.

"To date, there has been very good coordination and cooperation among the government and the various relief agencies delivering assistance to typhoon-affected households," said Andrew Robinson, Medair Field Communication Officer. "With local markets already exhausted, damaged, or destroyed, relief agencies are having to transport in large quantities of much needed relief items and materials. We are carefully coordinating our logistics activities in order to expedite the delivery of relief services and materials to those in need."
In the days and weeks ahead, Medair will continue to conduct emergency assessments in Dulag and the surrounding region to make sure that no one is left behind as the emergency continues.

Thank you to the generous private donors, foundations, and institutional funding partners whose gifts are making Medair’s life-saving relief activities in the Philippines possible.

Medair is a member of the global Integral Alliance, a network that is committed to increasing the capacity and quality of a united disaster response among partnering humanitarian organisations.

Medair helps people who are suffering in remote and devastated communities around the world survive crises, recover with dignity, and develop skills to build a better future.