disaster recovery Posts

Disasters and Development: Reflections from the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

Eva Jocelyn Ship in Tacloban CityAt the end of last year, I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and to visit GlobalGiving’s local partners that have been driving the Super Typhoon Haiyan recovery effort. (The storm was known locally as Typhoon Yolanda.) One year after the disaster, some of the most powerful remnants from the destruction have become benign landmarks and regular photo ops for visitors, like this 3,000 ton ship that washed into a community in Tacloban City. This juxtaposition of the terrifying and the mundane is a fitting metaphor for the complex road to recovery.

This short video brings to you to some of the people and issues I came across in the Philippines one year after Haiyan.(I’m narrating the video.)

Click to watch a short video about GlobalGiving's visit to the Philippines one year after Typhoon Haiyan

Click to watch a short video about GlobalGiving’s visit to the Philippines one year after Typhoon Haiyan

On my long flight home I reflected back on my many conversations in the Philippines; here are some observations that kept running through my mind:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 8.57.51 PM1. There is a vital need for ongoing support after disasters fade from the headlines.  Since Haiyan struck the Philippines last year, donors on GlobalGiving have delivered nearly $2.4 million in support of 33 locally-driven nonprofits performing relief and recovery work. When images of the disaster were flooding the newsfeeds, it was relatively easy for us and our nonprofit partners to mobilize donor support. However, as Natalie from International Disaster Volunteers explains in the video, as the work turns from rescue and relief to long-term recovery, many communities are left without the resources they need to get back on their feet.

One the tools we have for addressing these longer-term needs in disaster-affected areas is the anniversary campaign. On the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan we held a matching campaign, offering $100,000 in matching funds for organizations still working in the Haiyan-affected areas. This recent campaign helped Filipino organizations raise an additional $103,773 from 405 donors for ongoing recovery work after Haiyan. The matching incentives motivate donors to give to support ongoing needs. These donations alone this won’t rebuild the Philippines, but they are an important part of reinforcing the links between local communities and the global community of donors.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 8.58.08 PM2. Disasters highlight underlying needs for development. When I asked Filipinos about the largest need one year after Haiyan, many people said “livelihoods.” But interestingly, they couldn’t agree on whether the livelihoods situation was better or worse than before the disaster (and the international aid response that followed). To me, this underscores the fact that underemployment is an ongoing issue in the Philippines, and it’s simply one that’s been exacerbated by the natural disasters—including Haiyan.

PBSP, represented by Jay in the video, is a large civil society organization that is funding cash-for-work programs for local villagers who want to re-plant their lost mangroves. This program not only addresses the livelihood issue, but also the deforestation and damage to local watersheds and ecosystems, problems that have existed for years and whose effects were only compounded by the disaster. Livelihood and ecosystem programs generally fall in the category of ongoing needs for ‘development,’ not just disaster relief, but they can spell the difference between a disaster setting back a community for decades or a community being able to cope and move on. That’s why our ‘disaster’ strategy starts and ends with supporting local development efforts.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 8.56.24 PM3. Disasters can be an opportunity to build local capacity. When disasters do happen, we work to get leaders like Elmer and his organization, WAND, the immediate funding they need to respond, and then we help them leverage those disasters as a way to build skills, expertise, and awareness of ongoing structural issues in their communities. I’ve emailed back and forth with Elmer nearly a dozen times since my visit, and I’ve seen how he’s developing the relationships with the many donors that WAND acquired while they were in disaster-response mode. On the one-year anniversary campaign, Elmer is testing new ways of engaging donors around deadlines and matching incentives, all while building his own networks and fundraising skills. In building his fundraising capacity he’s also building toward sustainability.

When I asked Filipinos if they feared another big storm, every one of them said yes. For many, it wasn’t a question of “if” another devastating typhoon would happen, but “when.” (In fact, in just the 2 months since I returned, the Philippines has already been hit by some very scary storms.) I’m glad to know that for Natalie, Jay, Elmer, and many other local leaders, GlobalGiving is a long-term partner in their growth, learning, and capacity, as they keep their eyes on development and resilience in the Philippines.


A first person account of haiti one year later

Below is an excerpt from a note sent by Marisa Glassman to several of our corporate partners this week:

Britt Lake and I spent a week in Haiti in January visiting a number of GlobalGiving project partners, all of which our corporate partners’ employees and communities supported through GlobalGiving last year. I intended to follow-up sooner after my trip, but I’ve admittedly had somewhat of a difficult timing wrapping my mind around what my exact messaging to partners should be. Because as productive and motivating as much of what I saw was, there is still much room for improvement.

The great news is that the organizations we visited were incredibly inspiring.  We specifically targeted some of the smaller, lesser known organizations to better familiarize ourselves with their work.   And we were not disappointed.  The happy, healthy, and absolutely adorable orphans at the Rivers of Hope Orphanage were a joy to see, and the conditions they lived in would make any adoptive parent or donor happy and proud.  We saw some truly community-based work during our visit to European Disaster Volunteers, visiting the various schools and orphanages with which they work.  We met with a clean water organization called Deep Springs International, which is not only distributing chlorine solution and buckets to thousands of families but also employs mostly Haitian workers (all but two of its roughly 240 employees). We visited a Haitian organization called Lambi Fund, with which we have been working for years prior to the earthquake, and met an entire group of their beneficiaries in a rural part of the country.  We visited with International Medical Corps, who operates a primary health care clinic in one of the largest tent cities in Port-au-Prince on the grounds of a former golf course.  They were also kind enough to stay with us for over an hour while our truck got stuck in the mud on the way out of the area (never a dull moment!).  And that was only about half of our visits – there were many other very interesting and moving encounters that week as well.

As I’m sure you’ve heard and read about recently, not all the news to report from our trip is good.  Many people are questioning the ability of international aid and governments to effectively help the people of Haiti as a whole, especially since we passed the anniversary of the earthquake on January 12th and the overall landscape is, indeed, still rather bleak.  Much of the rubble has not been cleared, let alone are many homes and buildings being rebuilt.  Every park and/or open space in Port-au-Prince you can imagine is now an IDP (internally displaced person) camp, housing much of the 1 million-plus Haitians who are estimated to be living in the tents within them. Cholera is a growing problem, and diseases like malaria and tuberculosis persist. While it is difficult to see how and where immediate widespread changes will occur, the organizations we visited provide a stark contrast to the generally grim picture the press has, in many cases rightfully, painted.

The people and infrastructure of Haiti have a long way to go as a whole, and I am proud to be working with project organizations like the ones  mentioned earlier, as well as our corporate partners like Discovery Communications, Capital One, Dell, and Nike to do what we can, no matter how large or small.

Earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons, flooding: What a tragic week

Last week saw a string of disasters wreak havoc around the Asia Pacific region. Starting last weekend, a typhoon/tropical storm caused damage and flooding as it ripped across the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. (Check out a video of the flooding from a GlobalGiving project leader in Laos.) Midweek an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit the Samoan islands and Tonga and another hit off the coast of Padang in Indonesia. Indonesia was then hit by another quake the next day and another tropical storm led to more flooding in Southeast Asia. It was tragic to see these areas hit by a disaster just as they were digging out from a previous one.GlobalGiving is partnering with some great organizations that are working to provide relief and hasten recovery in affected areas. In addition to providing basic necessities, PUSPEM, a local Indonesian organization, is setting up emergency schools to ensure children have the opportunity to continue their education despite the destruction caused by the earthquake. Water Missions International is providing probably the most essential need-clean, safe drinking water. CHF International, experienced in disaster relief in the area, is providing another basic necessity, shelter.

In the Philippines, the Disaster Management Response Program at De La Salle University is currently collecting and distributing relief goods, and will be transitioning from initial disaster recovery to helping communities rebuild in the coming days and weeks. In Laos, SEDA is also providing basic relief with an eye toward long-term recovery.

We’re happy to have such a strong network of project leaders around the world who are able to quickly and effectively bring relief when these terrible disasters hit.