On November 8th, the strongest typhoon to ever hit land slammed into the central Philippines. Weakened, but still powerful, it made landfall in Vietnam on November 11th.

PWS&D offers our thoughts and prayers to all who are affected by this terrible tragedy.

Fixing nets after typhoon. The storm surge swept over the whole community, smashing boats and rendering many nets unusable. Photo by Paul Jeffrey for ACT Alliance

The storm surge swept over the whole community, smashing boats and rendering many nets unusable.
Photo by Paul Jeffrey for ACT Alliance

Church World Service-Asia/Pacific and ACT Alliance are working with the most vulnerable of those affected to supply emergency food, assist with shelter repair, provide support for necessary water, sanitation and hygiene services, and ensure psycho-social support is available.

Many in the area are dependent on agriculture and fishing for survival and their livelihoods will be impacted significantly. Families whose primary sources of livelihood were totally or partially destroyed are also receiving necessary support through PWS&D.

Communities will also gain awareness and build skills to help themselves prepare for future disasters.

Read Stories from the Philippines

Aid Beginning to Reach Those in Need

November 15, 2013

PWS&D’s partners are hard at work on the ground. Aid is beginning to reach those hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

Working until 2 a.m., scores of volunteers weigh rice and dried beans, count tins of sardines, packets of biscuits and bottles of cooking oil before carefully packing food parcels, destined for families devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

By midday, another 1700 parcels make it down the human chain and are hauled into a waiting truck. With a cheer the truck leaves the gate – this one is heading to the eastern province of Samar where the Typhoon made landfall. It follows two previous trucks containing 3300 parcels, each with a week worth of food.

Volunteers ensure emergency food packages reach those hardest hit. Photo: ACT Alliance

Volunteers ensure emergency food packages reach those hardest hit. Photo: ACT Alliance

“Our vision is to help people in need and give them enough to continue their lives,” says Linese, a volunteer for ACT Alliance member the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP).

“With a week’s worth of food, they can concentrate on re-building their homes and families. A big bag gives them time to sustain themselves for the coming week. We know recovery is a long process.”

Restoring the Coast and Marine Livelihoods

March 6, 2014

As the weeks and months pass since Typhoon Haiyan struck, PWS&D continues to work in the Philippines to improve the lives of those affected.

Dawahon Island, Philippines.

Dawahon Island, Philippines.

While initial relief efforts focused on providing families with the immediate necessities such as food and water, PWS&D’s response is now shifting towards long-term recovery.

To ensure the recovery of livelihoods, PWS&D is supporting a project on Dawahon Island with our partners at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB).

This small, five-hectare island is little more than a reef. The approximately 4,000 residents rely on fishing and seaweed farming to sustain themselves and take care of their families. To support recovery efforts, we are helping:

  • Replace 300 sets of fish traps,
  • Rehabilitate seaweed farming infrastructure, including solar seaweed dryers, and
  • Supply cash for work for 300 households in order to clean up the coast and restore the environment in the aftermath of the storm.
Seaweed farming on Dawahon Island.

Seaweed farming on Dawahon Island.

We are supporting those who have been identified as the poorest in the area, as well as vulnerable households with pregnant women, elderly or disabled, or those headed by women or children.

By assisting families to clean the coastline and strengthen the once thriving marine industry, we can ensure that women, men and children affected by the typhoon have sufficient safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

Families Have Hope to Live Again

March 20, 2014

Nene and her two children.

Nene and her two children.

Nene Guiuan was trapped inside her home when the typhoon struck. A coconut tree had fallen on the roof, so there was no choice but for her family of six to seek shelter under the bed and wait out the storm. The wind was incredible and the water rose up several feet at its greatest height.

Nene and her family live in Marabut in Samar province, an area hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan. While only one life was taken in the area, most families lost almost every possession they owned. Homes, food, clothing and livelihoods – nothing was spared.

Nene describes feeling helpless, with no hope for the future. While she remembers little of the actual typhoon, she does recall leaving her house in disbelief after the typhoon had passed. She remembers feeling overwhelmed and shocked by what had happened to her community.

For three days her family ate waterlogged rice, rationed out because they didn’t know how long it would have to last.

“I had hope to live again,” says Nene after receiving desperately needed food assistance.

“I had hope to live again,” says Nene after receiving desperately needed food assistance.

Fear was replaced with hope for Nene and her family once relief packages started arriving in Marabut.

Presbyterian World Service & Development has supported the ACT Alliance in distributing emergency food and non-food items in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon.

“I had hope to live again,” says Nene once her family received the desperately needed food, sleeping materials, kitchen implements and hygiene kits.

“The relief has made us happy and more comfortable,” she adds, along with a message of thankfulness to those who have made this relief possible. “Thank you. Super thank you!”

Dreaming of a Brighter Future in the Philippines

April 8, 2014

Ruth outside her family home in Marabut

Ruth outside her family home in Marabut

Since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013, families throughout the hardest hit areas are working to recover.

Before the typhoon, Ruth and her family were supported by her husband’s fishing business. They owned a boat and fishing gear, and were making ends meet.

Like many in her community of Marabut, Ruth’s house was completely destroyed by the storm surge and wind that were part of the typhoon. Her husband’s fishing boat and nets were also lost in the storm.

Buildings and agriculture were devastated by Haiyan

Buildings and agriculture were devastated by Haiyan

Ruth shares how her children remain fearful. When it rains and the water rises, they wonder whether it is “another Yolanda” (as Typhoon Haiyan is known locally). Ruth is also afraid, as are many others in communities affected by the typhoon. Working to address these concerns, ACT Alliance is providing psychosocial counselling and support.

Even in the midst of the devastation, the spirit of community remains strong.

Neighbours shared what little food they had until relief food distributions began. Families, who were impacted themselves by the storm, took in and sheltered as many people as they could. Ruth’s brother-in-law has helped the family rebuild their house with salvaged debris.

Despite the hardships Ruth and her family are dealing with on a daily basis, with support from PWS&D and members of the ACT Alliance, they are optimistic about the future. Ruth’s sister-in-law Adila dreams of reconstructed homes and renewed livelihoods, which can sustain their families. Ruth shares her hopes for a rebuilt school, “where my children can learn and have brighter futures.”

In March, two PWS&D staff travelled to the Philippines to monitor the response PWS&D is supporting through the ACT Alliance. Karen Bokma, Communications Coordinator, and Rob Shropshire, Program Coordinator, visited communities that were directly impacted by Typhoon Haiyan and who are now receiving assistance because of generous support from The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

I Can Start Fishing Again

June 11, 2014

“Typhoon Haiyan destroyed our house and my boat. We were left with nothing,” says Alan Padilla, a fisherman and father of three.

Alan lives in Embarcadero—one of the areas hardest-hit by the typhoon that struck the Philippines last November.

Fishing boats being provided in Embarcadero

Fishing boats being provided in Embarcadero

“We lived along the coastline. When we heard the warning, my wife and children evacuated to the village school. I decided to stay and guard the house and boat. But later my brother came to tell that I should also evacuate.”

This warning saved Alan’s life. Fierce winds and a storm surge several meters high decimated all the small houses near the coast. Boats and fishing nets were wrecked or washed away.

Survivors in Embarcadero received food assistance, blankets, kitchenwares, utensils and hygiene kits from local partners supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development.

Six months after the typhoon, most of the debris has been cleared. But long-term help is still needed. Many people, including Alan’s family, are still living in makeshift shelters that do not offer enough protection from the rain or hot sun.

Moving Towards Recovery

Alan Padilla stands with his new fishing gears Photo: ACT Alliance

Alan Padilla stands with his new fishing gears
Photo: ACT Alliance

As the disaster response moves from immediate relief to long-term recovery, residents of Embarcadero will be assisted as they repair shelters and construct new homes that are more resistant to storms. Livelihood assistance, such as fishing nets and gears are being provided to fisherfolk like Alan, as well as animals and seed for farmers.

Psychosocial support is being offered to help individuals cope with the losses and trauma they suffered due to Typhoon Haiyan. Disaster preparedness trainings are also helping people understand what they can do to better protect themselves in case of future disasters.

Soon Alan Padilla will be able to start fishing again. The thought makes him very happy.

“I have helped with the construction of new boats. Now I am assembling the new net, attaching the weights and floaters. I expect to earn about 200 pesos ($5CDN) per day, depending on the catch.”

PWS&D continues to respond in the Philippines through the ACT Alliance, which has helped assist more than one million people.

Philippines Relief Resources

Watch a video about the work we are supporting in the Philippines.

View new photos from Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.