People still struggling six months after super typhoon Haiyan | Pacific Beat

People still struggling six months after super typhoon Haiyan

People still struggling six months after super typhoon Haiyan

Updated 8 May 2014, 11:58 AEST

Six months on from the devastation caused by the strongest typhoon ever to hit land, and the Philippines is still struggling to get on top of a huge rebuilding programme.

Some of the millions of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan continue to receive emergency aid and live in poor housing, a government plan to locate 200,000 people is hitting some snags, and the nation's resources are being stretched.

Presenter: Karon Snowdon

Typhoon Haiyan survivor Charlene Lee

Gwendolyn Pang Secretary General of the Philippines Red Cross

Claire Seaward, Oxfam's Campaign Manager, Philippines


SNOWDON: Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda as it's called locally hit the central Philippines last November the 8th. It killed more than 80-thousand people, left four million homeless and flattened most buildings in its path. The world's media and aid flocked to Tacloban where the 300 kilometre per hour winds and a storm surge tore through the city. Six months on and life is hard.

VOX POPS: We were hoping that they would give us some lights or street lights because without it it's so dark here, we don't have anything here. We are just waiting for relief for us, it's been a long time since the last one. We're hoping to receive some because we no longer have some rice or food to eat.

SNOWDON: Others are better off.

VOX POPS: We are thankful for the cash for work program, because of it we were able to build our house because it was washed out by Typhoon Yolanda.

SNOWDON: The reconstruction is monumental and made difficult as many islands were affected.

Gwendolyn Pang is Secretary General of the Philippines Red Cross.

PANG: The Red Cross has given unconditional cash grants, as of today we've given 275-thousand per house, that's the biggest so far in the whole Red Cross Red Crescent history, and the target is to give to 90-thousand households.

SNOWDON: The pace of the relief effort has been hugely different in different areas. Many people say getting a job, a fishing boat, a vegetable garden or a small shop is their priority.

VOX POPS: The government has promised us assistance for livelihoods, but so far there is none. So we are still waiting for them to help us for our livelihoods.

SNOWDON: While many lives were saved by quick relief efforts, the government has been criticised for the slow rate of progress since the typhoon. Many people are still living in bunk houses, built as temporary shelter, and housing as many as 24 families in tiny rooms with shared toilet and kitchen facilities. Bunk houses have been criticised as over-priced and substandard, but some people prefer them to living in scraped together ramshackle huts.

The charity Oxfam has surveyed more than 400 people, some of the 200-thousand who will be relocated out of unsafe areas by the government. Claire Seaward, Oxfam's Campaign Manager in the Philippines says relocating can often push poor people further into poverty, ensuring they have a livelihood is essential.

SEAWARD: Now this is a massive move and for some people they really do want it. We did a survey recently and one in three people said they were very concerned about their safety. However they're even more concerned about the fact they need to have a job, and what we've not seen from the government is comprehensive plans that will actually benefit people.

SNOWDON: Do your criticisms though risk not taking into account some of the conditions facing the Philippines government at all levels; the limited ability of the government to meet some of those requirements of land, capacity, we have to consider cost in the Philippines case as well?

SEAWARD: The government is not new to this situation, there's been a number of times that they have undertaken a relocation process. And this could be a great opportunity for them to get it right.

SNOWDON: The Red Cross is contributing a quarter of all relief, and has a three year program to rebuild houses, schools and livelihoods. Gwendolyn Pang acknowledges progress can sometimes seem slow.

PANG: There is still also a lot of work that's being done in terms of identifying the right beneficiaries and it entails also some time for us to put things in order. And in the next coming months it will be smoother, it will be faster. In the very beginning it's a bit slow, but now we are going in the direction where we need to go.

SNOWDON: Already some new shelters have been washed away by storms. Next month the rainy season starts in the Philippines. Gwendolyn Pang from the Red Cross:

PANG: Also what if there are other areas will be hit strongly by rainy season, what are we going to do, how are we going to add to the capacity that we already have at the moment.

SNOWDON: Despite the hardship Filipinos are determined to help themselves where they can. Charlene Lee is from the town of Hernany on the east coast.

LEE: After the typhoon Hernany can be more progressive because of the willingness of the people of our community. They take any job in order for them to survive, in order for them to have something to eat.

Contact the studio

Got something to say about what you're hearing on the radio right now?

Send your texts to +61 427 72 72 72

Add the hashtag #raonair to add your tweets to the conversation.

Email us your thoughts on an issue. Messages may be used on air.