The devastation of Typhoon Haiyan was almost unprecedented: It was the deadliest rapid-onset disaster globally in 2013. Nearly 6 million children have been affected, 4.1 million people remain displaced and over 6,000 people lost their lives.
Long forgotten by the media and the world but not forgotten by the countless people impacted by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines three months ago, Save the Children has released a three-month report written all through the eyes of the most vulnerable: The children. The report cleverly titled “See me, Hear me, Ask me: Children’s recommendations for recovery three months after Typhoon Haiyan” focuses on the perspective of children and their recommendations of building their communities back and preparing for future disasters.
Three months after the horrendous Typhoon Haiyan, known locally in the Philippines as typhoon Yolanda, wiped aways villages and dreams, the Philippines have been working hard at rebuilding thanks to the help of many non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children. Although many have not been able to return home, communities are beginning to rebuild, businesses and schools are starting to reopen and a sense of normalcy is desperately trying to come back.
Yet much work remains and one thing is clear: The children impacted by Typhoon Haiyan want to use the disaster as an opportunity not only to rebuild their communities but make them better, fairer and stronger than before. As the government of the Philippines prepares their three-year disaster recovery plan, the children of the Philippines want their voices heard and a say in the future of the nation.
Sofia, 15 years old, says: “We need help to rebuild and to rise from this disaster. We need education so that we are ready for when disasters come to our country. We don’t just want money and gifts. We need you to help us stand again on our own feet.”
To children, building back better does not simply mean building new and improved infrastructure such as disaster-proof schools and houses. it also means building their knowledge, safety and skills for their future in one of the most disaster- prone countries on earth. - Save the Children
Jamaica says: “We got the light three weeks ago (first week of January, 2014) and it is our only source of light. Our house was completely destroyed by the typhoon so now we live in a makeshift shed. We are three children, my mom and dad and my maternal grandmother. We are all doing OK. My favorite subject is English, but later on I want to study nursing, so I can help my countrymen and my family. Sometimes I study for long hours in the evenings, I study every night. It falls dark here around 6pm and I go to bed around 8pm. The light changes a lot”.
Per Save the Children, despite the progress, hard work and amazing humanitarian relief, three months later there still are countless families living in disaster-impacted areas who have urgent, unmet needs:
- In Tacloban nearly 5,000 people are still displaced, living in eight evacuation centres established in school buildings.
- Children still cannot return to school in some areas due to damage to buildings, or due to fear of being separated from family, especially due to the heavy rain and winds which continue to have a psychological effect. In Tacloban City, fewer than 29% of secondary school students were able to return to school in January 2014 after the school holidays.
- Impacted areas are unable to keep up with demand and care for newborns and their mothers. There are 1,000 births expected daily during the first quarter of 2014 in affected areas.
- Children remain vulnerable and protection risks remain high.
James says: “That day I was taking care of my younger siblings, I was thinking about my family’s survival. During the height of the typhoon, we all stayed in a single room. Then roof sheets were being torn like paper, and window’s shattered.”
As Save the Children and other non-governmental organizations shift from emergency relief services to rebuilding, Save the Children asked the children what they could do better to improve. The report finds that children want to be better prepared before the next emergency and better informed after it.
“The children overwhelmingly told us that they want to play a role in planning for emergencies, and that they need to be better prepared for the next disaster. Now is the time when decisions are being made about how we respond to disasters in the Philippines in the future, and these decisions will affect children. The recovery process is not just about providing vital aid to affected communities, but ensuring that we build back better, and the input of children is critical to this.”
-Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children.
See me, ask me, hear me recommends that the Government of the Philippines, in collaboration with aid agencies:
- Develop child-friendly early warning language that describes ‘surge’, ‘gusts’ and ‘magnitude’ as well as other meteorological terminology in a way that children can understand, envisage and respond to.
- Address child-friendly design of evacuation centers, and ensure that all children but especially girls’ right to privacy is upheld.
- Implement strategies to ensure that 100 percent of school-aged children in affected areas are able to get back to learning as soon as possible.
- Ensure greater investment in social services, not just infrastructure in the recovery phase following Typhoon Haiyan.
To learn more about the report, click here. All the information and photos in this post were provided by Save the Children.