Philippines - Six Months On

"Challenges remain, none more than staff fatigue.
Plan's 193 strong team are exhausted. It still very much is a 24 / 7 operation."
- David Dalton, Plan Ireland CEO

News from the Field from Plan Ireland CEO, David Dalton

On Monday of this week, I returned from a one-week trip to the worst-hit areas in the Philippines. Today is the 6 month anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan and I wanted to update you on progress to date and the challenges ahead.

Six months ago this week, Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever to make landfall, slammed into the Philippines. The world watched as images streamed through our TV channels of devastation and loss. But the Irish people acted, as they always act in times of need. With the thousands of donations Plan Ireland received, the people of Ireland helped Plan to provide life-saving aid to children and families across the Philippines.

Plan, working in the Philippines for over 50 years, was one of the first responders to the storm to help those most in need. First phase activities included the immediate provision of clean water, food and shelter. To date:

over 23,000 families have been housed through the provision of Plan’s shelter kits – essential supplies including tarpaulin, ropes, bedding, toiletries and kitchen utensils over 100,000 of those left homeless received water kits, allowing them to prepare and have access to a clean supply of water
in total over 1.5 million people, across 43 disaster-affected municipalities, have benefited from Plan’s food distribution programmes.

None of this would have been achievable without your support. Thank you.

During my visit last week, I saw first-hand, that community-by-community, Plan is actively involved in the rehabilitation and implementation of life saving programmes – always with children at the heart of what we are doing.

I visited many schools during my time there, met children and teachers and learned that over 85% of all children are back in education in ‘temporary learning spaces’, informal, tented classrooms where Plan is aiming to bring some form of normality back the lives of those worst affected – children. These spaces are important as they give children a safe place to gather. Teachers and volunteers can also asses post traumatic stress and help children to return to a normal life.

I learnt that in the months after Typhoon Haiyan, many children hid when it rained, afraid Haiyan would return. Many of these children had seen things no child should see – dead bodies on the street – many of them family members – mass burials, destruction on a huge scale and much more. In a disaster that affected 14m people and saw 4m left homeless, these children will need time and support to recover. Plan will do what is needed, where it is needed most, for as long as it takes to help these brave children move on.

David, pictured last week in central Philippines, with the Conde family, one of the first of many housed by Plan in aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Plan has been working to provide temporary housing for thousands left homeless by the typhoon and, during my visit I met many of these families. Families like that of Rubeyn Conde and her six children who were the first to receive temporary housing from Plan, providing them with a safe space to live. Essential in the recovery process is the inclusion of the local communities, and Plan is employing local workers, with a focus on employing women in its reconstruction efforts, involving them in the process and giving them an opportunity to earn money to support their families.

Our focus now is to build back better, equipping the Filipino communities with long-lasting benefits which help them to prepare for future challenges. The process of rebuilding will take years, and more investment in employment, education and children is needed. But what keeps us moving forward is that unbreakable Filipino spirit; that unique brand of resilience now known the world over.

We simply could not do this without your support. Thank you once again for your vital donation towards Plan’s Philippines Emergency Response.

David Dalton