On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) ripped through central Philippines, causing death and destruction in its path. It is estimated that more than 6,300 people were killed with thousands more injured, and millions made homeless. It was the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall – powerful winds and storm surges smashed buildings, destroyed roads, leaving many provinces without power or telecommunications. Typhoon Haiyan followed just weeks after a 7.2 earthquake, the strongest that had been felt in the Visayas and Mindanao in the previous 23 years, shook Bohol.
ICM was able to act quickly by providing 22,322 families with relief goods in the first eight weeks post disasters; 2.4 million meals were delivered in ICM’s operating areas and 1.1 million meals were given to partner charities.
It was the first time that ICM had run a full-scale disaster relief effort across the eight provinces served by the charity. Once short-term needs had been met, ICM was then able to implement mid-term goals: rebuilding 451 church buildings, distributing 16,113 bars of soap to help fight the spread of disease and providing 4,396 solar lights (for electricity as well as light). ICM continued to run its Transform programs over the following months in 242 disaster-affected communities, increasing resilience and strengthening the support networks of 8,954 families.
Over the past two decades, the Philippines endured a total of 274 natural calamities, making it the fourth most disaster-prone country in the world. This is based on ‘The Human Cost of Weather Related Distasters,’ a study conducted by the Geneva-based United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Belgian-based Centre on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). The study covered the period between 1995 and 2015.
ICM saw that there was clearly a need to be better prepared for inevitable future disasters. In partnership with Tearfund, With the help of volunteer pastors we were able to train 3,295 pastors on disaster preparedness from January-May 2015. These pastors were able to conduct 2,593 community training sessions attended by 108,758 community members. With the average household consisting of 5.2 people, ICM’s disaster preparedness training for pastors has impacted the lives of 565,541 people.
ICM also developed a cellphone “Pastor Information Network” (PIN) that now enables real-time data collection on disaster impact across wide regions of the Philippines. This information will help the international development community to target response to the areas of most need.
The tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan can never be forgotten, but ICM is grateful to have been able to provide short, medium and long term assistance to the resilient survivors, who will be better prepared to face disaster the next time it strikes the Philippines.
For more information about how ICM responses to other major natural disasters, please CLICK HERE about ICM’s Disaster Fund.
By Helen Carruthers, ICM Volunteer