Families recovering after Haiyan but prices stall progress

26/03/2015

A new independent evaluation of the aid response to the humanitarian devastation caused by one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, found the majority of people in some of the worst-affected parts of the Philippines have already recovered the some of the essential assets they lost in the disaster and many are improving their homes for the future. 
 
The evaluation, commissioned by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), piloted a new methodology “Contribution to Change” (CtC) developed by Oxfam and the University of East Anglia. The approach measures the overall collective contribution of humanitarian aid to the recovery of the affected population, rather than focusing on the work of one DEC member agency or measuring achievement against planned outcomes. 
 
By speaking to 427 households in Dulag and Tanauan, Leyte, the evaluation found that household income has generally returned to pre-disaster levels, however the increased cost of food and transport, means many said their living standards are worse than before Typhoon Haiyan. The cost of carpenters has nearly doubled and building materials are more expensive, they said, making rebuilding slow and more difficult. 
 
Saleh Saeed, Chief Executive of the DEC, said: 
 
“Natural disasters always hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. It is down to the determination and hard work of communities and the fast work of the humanitarian community that most people have rebuilt their family incomes and are improving their homes. However for the majority of people we spoke to this means living on less than $2.30 per day, sometimes forced to borrow money or take their children out of school in order to feed their families or repair their homes.”
 
“By looking at the collective work of aid agencies, local organisations and government, as well as the of role individuals, this new evaluation approach is able to capture the complexities of disaster response and better understand how communities perceive the relief effort.”
 
Typhoon Haiyan hit Eastern Samar, Leyte and Central Visayas in the Philippines on 8 November 2013, killing 6,300 people, displacing 4.1 million from their homes and affecting 16 million. The huge aid response included £97 million raised by the DEC in the UK. Its 13 member agencies responded immediately and continue to work with affected families today. 
 
The research, carried out by a team from Ateneo de Manila University School of Government, led by Theresa Audrey O. Esteban, is the first time the CtC methodology has been used across a network of organisations following a disaster. It aims to give DEC agencies an in-depth and unbiased evaluation of how the combined humanitarian effort helped communities recover. 
 
All the people surveyed said their house was damaged or destroyed and everyone said they had received some sort of housing assistance, while many people also used their own money and resources to rebuild.
 
Most respondents said housing assistance was timely and appropriate and in some cases families reported living in improved conditions, with iron roofing and improved sanitation. Everyone said that rebuilding or repairing their home helped contribute to their recovery, however one year on most people were still repairing their damaged homes due to the high cost of building materials and carpentry.
 
A year after Typhoon Haiyan, 95 percent of households are working although only some have fully restored their previous livelihood. The report found that incomes of coconut farmers and the fishing community were particularly affected. In both Dulag and Tanauan almost all coconut trees were destroyed by the storm surge or strong winds and will take five to ten years for new trees to grow and bear fruit, while fish stocks remain low due to the destruction of marine life. 
 
Two weeks after the disaster, 97 percent of people surveyed had received food, 80 percent received hygiene kits, 75 percent building materials and 66 percent cash. Close to 22 percent of households surveyed said they had received livelihood assistance, usually cash grants for restarting businesses, raw materials such as fishing gear and boats. 
 
The evaluation gave communities the opportunity to feed back on interventions which did not help recovery. For example some respondents said that distribution of vegetable seeds in some areas resulted in oversupply and a reduced income for farmers, while in three out of the 34 locations surveyed, people said they had received boats that were too small. On the other hand, the provision of boat materials or cash for rebuilding helped the fishing community design their own craft and return to work. 
 
The report gives a broader picture to previous independent and member agency evaluations, highlighting the perceptions of disaster- affected people .of the aid they received from many different actors. For example an independent review published in May 2014 found the response of DEC member agencies had been good, providing timely and essential assistance such as food and shelter to those in need .
 
Almost a year later, this new evaluation finds that overall, the relief response made a significant contribution to the recovery of those interviewed. However the scale and severity of the disaster means there is still much to be done to support families rebuild their lives over the long term. 
 
Notes to editors:

  1.  The DEC brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.
  2.  Philippines Typhoon appeal – Contribution to Change Study and summaries can be downloaded here: http://www.alnap.org/resources/contribution-to-change-philippines