Typhoon after typhoon after typhoon…

Even by the area’s stern storm season standards, 2020 has been a terrible year. In the past month alone, five storms have hammered the Philippines, from Typhoon Molave (locally named Quinta) on October 25 to Vamco (Ulysses) last week, which came less than a fortnight after the season’s strongest storm, Typhoon Goni (Rolly).

Widespread devastation

These storms’ cumulative effect, atop the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enduring impacts of earlier typhoons, has been devastating. Anticipating worse, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that:

  • Typhoon Vamco has affected over three million people in 5,594 barangays (villages/wards).
  • 73 people have died; 283,656 people are in 2,205 evacuation centres; and 50 villages remain completely isolated.
  • In areas affected by Typhoon Goni, at least 25 people died, over 390 were injured and nearly 83,000 remain displaced.
  • Agriculture damage from recent typhoons exceeds US$250 million and infrastructure damage stands at US$165 million.
  • Power supply is disrupted in over 250 cities; water supply is affected in 50 municipalities; and communications networks are down in 51 cities.
  • Many health facilities have been damaged and COVID-19 patients have had to be transferred out of five quarantining facilities.

Significant needs

Development and Peace — Caritas Canada’s partners conducted a rapid needs assessment by polling local government officials, health workers and community leaders. They report that the most urgent needs are for:

  • Construction materials to build shelters and repair damaged houses
  • Seeds and seedlings to replace destroyed crops
  • Farm equipment to help restart agriculture
  • Food aid and sanitation and hygiene kits
  • Short-term alternative livelihoods
  • Longer-term support to prevent chronic poverty and hunger

Strong capacities

Our partners have had a strong, sustained presence in the Philippines. Canadians’ generosity after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 let them achieve remarkable results, including the construction of the Pope Francis Village. Their work has even helped build grassroots resilience against the pandemic.

Development and Peace has continued working on the ground with a team of professionals called Institutionalising Change through Support for Transformation (ICST). Working with local partners, ICST has facilitated the direct involvement of Haiyan survivors in reconstruction and development.

Along with other humanitarian organisations including Caritas Philippines, these experienced, trusted, connected and proven partners can mount an effective frontline response to the current crisis with your support.

to help bring relief, hope and dignity to the people of the Philippines.

By Dominique Godbout, Programs Officer, Humanitarian Assistance

Women are closely involved in determining the design priorities for shelters in the Rohingya refugee camps.

It has now been four years since the beginning of the massive influx of Rohingya refugees from Burma (Myanmar) into Bangladesh. Four years that Caritas Bangladesh, through its Emergency Response Program, has been working tirelessly to respond to the critical needs of the Rohingya women, girls, boys and men who live in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Since 2017, too, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada, with support from thousands of Canadians and Global Affairs Canada, has been helping Caritas Bangladesh provide dignified and safe shelters to families in congested and disaster-prone camps.

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy drove our commitment to ensuring that the shelters meet the specific needs of those who spend the most time in them: women, adolescent girls and other vulnerable groups. This meant that shelters had to be made of durable materials; be well ventilated; and have safe cooking and bathing spaces, room partitions for increased privacy, and locks for safety.

Caritas Bangladesh’s gender-sensitive, community-led approach to shelter rehabilitation and construction has had meaningful impacts on the community, especially for women, girls and vulnerable groups. Female participants have gained the confidence to voice their needs and participate in making decisions about upgrades to their shelters. They have also become skilled, knowledgeable, and self-reliant with respect to shelter rehabilitation/construction. Their use of these new skills and capacities has also led to greater community cohesion and pride. Women also feel a greater sense of security and confidence in their shelters’ ability to withstand recurring extreme weather events. Caritas Bangladesh is helping Rohingya women develop shelter planning, construction and maintenance skills.

Caritas Bangladesh is helping Rohingya women develop shelter planning, construction and maintenance skills.

In the past year, fires, floods, cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused several setbacks in the delivery of the humanitarian response. This has had adverse impacts on the safety and well-being of the refugees, especially those from the most vulnerable households. These difficulties notwithstanding, Development and Peace remains committed to supporting Caritas Bangladesh’s sustained effort to secure the dignity of the Rohingya people and improve their prospects.