‘After Yolanda:’ The Visayas still in recovery after deadly 2013 typhoon

New classroom at the San Jose Central Elementary School in Tacloban

Rebuilding the Cantahay Elementary School in Guiuan. Photos by Alexie Mercado/Give2Asia

A year and a half after the deadliest storm in recorded Filipino history, communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda continue to recover, slowly gaining their foothold back in one of the world’s most at-risk regions. “After Yolanda,” a report released recently by Give2Asia, details the recovery of some of the hardest hit areas of the Visayas and highlights the importance of strong relationships and trust between affected communities, local NGOs, and international donors in the recovery process.

Give2Asia is a San-Francisco-based nonprofit that strengthens communities by building trusted networks for charitable investment. The report is a result of Give2Asia’s $1.84 million response to the super typhoon that struck in Nov. 2013.

“The outpouring of support from the international donors was amazing, and Give2Asia’s role was to target a portion of that global campaign to help local Philippines-based organizations on the ground making a long-term commitment to recovery and resilience-building,” said Give2Asia President & CEO Birger Stamperdahl. “We are extremely grateful to the corporations, Filipino diaspora, and other donors who gave with both their hearts and their minds to fund truly impactful, local programs.”

While a portion of its grants met the immediate needs of those affected by the storm, Give2Asia also allocated for long-term rehabilitation, especially in the coastal communities that were most severely affected.

Of the $1.2 million Give2Asia donated thus far, 31 percent went to support immediate relief, 24 percent to ongoing health programs, 23 percent to programs that support education, 10 percent was used to rehabilitate the local economy, and 9 percent was invested in disaster resilience initiatives to prevent the destructive effects of future storms. The remaining percent was used to address gaps in psycho-social care through arts programs.

With support from Give2Asia, the Guiuan Development Foundation, Inc. (GDFI) provided disaster risk reduction training to the island community where Yolanda first made landfall, Maliwaliw. A comprehensive disaster plan, particularly in such a vulnerable location like Maliwaliw, improves mortality rates in disasters and can significantly shorten future recovery periods.

One month after the training, Typhoon Ruby traumatized still-recovering regions as it took an almost identical path through the Visayas. As skies darkened over Maliwaliw, volunteers from the community helped mobilize residents into their designated safe centers, with a particular focus on supporting the elderly and children.

A week after the storm passed, one trainee wrote, “the circumstances were difficult but the knowledge that we acquired from the trainings made things easier – especially for us elderly.”

Another trainee agreed; saying, “the training provided us with so much help, the residents were so prepared…people voluntarily evacuated to designated evacuation centers.”

As part of a reflection to improve how the community responds to storms, the residents of the volunteer committees are then better able to communicate community needs to a local organization like GDFI. This improves the overall effectiveness of charitable giving, creating an effective way to support programs that address community needs.

To learn more about Give2Asia, its disaster recovery programs, and to read the report, please visit give2asia.org/after-yolanda

Music and Therapy sessions with the community. Photo: Apl.de.ap Foundation

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