Luiza Carvalho: "Encouraging progress" but long road ahead

09 Dec 2013

image Women workers under UNDP cash-for-work programme clearing debris from Tacloban's Barangay (neighbourhood) 88. All the workers come from the Barangay, and are provided with safety equipment and a daily wage. (Photo: OCHA/Jose Reyna)

Humanitarian Coordinator statement: Typhoon Haiyan - One month on

One month after Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) hit the Visayan region, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, Ms. Luiza Carvalho, returned to visit Tacloban, the city so devastated by the super typhoon.

Making landfall on 8 November, Typhoon Haiyan caused the death of thousands of people as it tore across nine regions. Millions were displaced with their homes either damaged or destroyed; agriculture was all but wiped out; and the sheer amount of debris generated by the storm resulted in significant challenges during the first days of the response getting essential relief aid out to those affected.

"Visiting Tacloban today, I saw bid differences from my first visit, almost one month ago," said Ms. Carvalho." "The airport is operational, the fuel is available, the water system is reconnected, people are receiving assistance and the town hall is functioning. It is encouraging to see significant progress in such a short space of time but we need to remember that there is a long road ahead."

In support of the Government-led response, humanitarian partners have reached three million people with food assistance and more than 20,000 received rice seeds in time for the planting season. Over the next six months more than 100,000 children up to two years, as well as pregnant women and new mothers, will be assisted with feeding programmes.

Medical teams are covering 25 municipalities and projects were launched to provide cash-for-work schemes to re-ignite the economy. Shelter and livelihoods will remain a significant priority for the humanitarian community to get people back in their feet. Four million galvanized iron sheets will be required for housing. Inputs for farmers and fishers will be procured to enable them to recover livelihoods.

"The people of the Philippines are known the world over for their resilience. You just have to see Tacloban and how the recovery of the city, which was badly damaged, is underway," said Ms. Carvalho. "Working alongside the Government, the humanitarian community will continue to assist in the creation of livelihoods and to provide shelter and solutions for the many people whose homes were destroyed."

Challenges over the coming months will involve reopening the damaged schools and public buildings and restoring services. The international community rallied to support the affected communities but support will be needed well in to 2014 as the long task of rebuilding lives continues.

"We are grateful for the international outpouring of support and we ask that it continues in the months ahead to ensure people have access to sufficient food and clean water as well as to help provide the tools and equipment to enable them to rebuild their homes. These inputs are essential to enable people to return to productive and healthy life" said the Humanitarian Coordinator.