November 8th marked the one year anniversary of the world’s strongest typhoon slamming into the Philippines with devastating force. Over the last 12 months World Vision has been working hard to enable those that survived the terrible storm to start rebuilding their lives for what will hopefully be a brighter future. The organisation has managed to provide assistance to 750,000 people, nearly three quarters of which were unfortunately children.
A sombre occasion
Andrew Rosauer World Vision’s Response Director says whilst he is proud that his team gave one hundred per cent to the response, the one year mark was a sombre occasion that is dedidcated to the emotional loss people suffered from the storm. To that end, Mr. Rosauer and his team chose to commemorate the occasion with a candlelight memorial in Tacloban.
“It is important to remember those who lost their lives this time last year, and to honour the survivors’ courage, tenacity and strength. It is also a time to acknowledge the people who are still finding it difficult to adjust with so many losing loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. We have had a focus on ‘building back better’, but there are still many challenges ahead as we work with the communities to restore livelihoods and to prepare for disasters yet to come.”
Long term income is the biggest problem
The biggest problem seems to be one of finding and sustaining long-term income opportunities after so many people either lost their primary income earner, or their usual sources of income in the storm. Another problem is reducing the people’s vulnerability to future emergencies and improving their resilience. World Vision has provided assistance to 2,500 households that are the most vulnerable, including single parent or child headed families as well as the elderly and disabled.
Lots of people have been helped
Aside from providing shelter, the affected families were given help with their livelihoods, education and health. The agency organised cash-for work programs that supported over 85,000 individuals, with more than 21,000 receiving benefits such as livestock distribution, business start up tool kits and skills trainings.
“This year has had so many disasters that required the world’s attention: From the crisis’ in Syria, Gaza, South Sudan, the Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak– it’s fair to say that the typhoon has been sharing the world stage with other pressing issues. But the 8th of November is a time for the typhoon to be remembered. Filipino’s are always smiling and have a remarkably positive outlook. Behind the day-to day commitment of moving on, there are many heavy hearts.” Mr. Rosauer said.
Final phase of the emergency response
World Vision has now moved into the rehabilitation stage which is really the last phase of its response. Mr. Rosauer says he understands the critical part the communities play in both physical workmanship and decision making when it comes to rebuilding, so that they have the skills to deal with any other future shocks and also feel empowered.