Super Typhoon Haiyan laid waste to many communities when it made landfall in the Philippines Nov. 8. The immense destructive force of the storm flattened homes and displaced millions. Response and recovery efforts remain ongoing, and many areas still lack power, food, water and other essentials. ChildFund's emergency response teams were among the first to reach the survivors of the disaster, and although casualties were lower than originally feared, the road to recovery is long. The true impact of Haiyan may not be felt for some time, as Filipino farmers are likely to be the last people to recover from the devastation wrought by the typhoon.
The gap between the richest and poorest people in the Philippines is vast. This is particularly evident in land ownership, with many of the wealthiest families controlling much of the country's land. Small-scale farmers often lack their own land and are often forced to migrate from one area to another to survive. Even once the rubble is cleared and people begin to rebuild their lives in the wake of Haiyan, the poorest members of Filipino society will struggle to recover from the storm.
Speaking at the recent United Nations climate adaptation conference in Poland, Karen Tuason, a representative of Filipino farmers, told attendees that more must be done to secure land ownership rights for the country's poorest people and reform land tenure laws for small-scale farmers.
"They just stand their shacks in vulnerable places, and when the typhoon comes, their houses are destroyed and they have nowhere to go," Tuason said. "We compare it with the farmers who have access to land. At least they begin to stabilize their economies, they have fixed assets they can plant on it."
Super Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. Data from the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council suggests that the disaster affected more than 10 million people and displaced approximately 4 million from their homes. Approximately 65 percent of those displaced lived in the poorest areas of the country, and although the 1,550 evacuation centers are doing everything they can to accommodate families who fled the path of the storm, millions of people still need help.
The cities of Tacloban and Ormoc were among the hardest hit by Haiyan. Although some families have limited supplies of food, these reserves could soon run out. In rural areas, much of the water supply is contaminated and undrinkable, which is likely to increase the risk that children and their parents are exposed to waterborne diseases. Access to health care is severely limited, meaning that children's lives are at risk.
In addition to the immediate needs of food, water and medical supplies, children affected by the storm also need vital psychosocial support, which we offer through Child-Centered Spaces, where children can talk about their experiences during and after the storm. The sight of homes, entire streets and neighborhoods washed or blown away by the typhoon is extremely traumatic, and the psychological scars of witnessing such scenes of devastation can pose a serious risk to children's mental health.
ChildFund continues to work across the Philippines to provide aid to children in need and their families, but to do so, we need your help. Please consider making a donation to our Relief and Recovery Fund for the Philippines today. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have been able to reach families affected by Haiyan and distribute food, water and other essentials. Millions of people need urgent aid, and your support will make a difference in the lives of families who have lost everything.