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Typhoon Yolanda survivors back in business

November 4, 2014

MANILA – One year after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ripped through the Philippines, tens of thousands of families whose livelihoods were devastated are returning to work with the support of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Yolanda facts and figuresAlmost 30,000 households have so far received cash grants of up to USD 220 as part of the Philippine Red Cross’s three-year USD 360 million recovery plan which will support 500,000 people across Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Panay and Palawan islands.

Pigs, goats, chickens and stock for convenience or ‘sari-sari’ stores are among the most popular items being bought by Haiyan survivors as part of the livelihoods programme.

Initial data shows farming, rearing livestock and setting up local convenience shops are the top three income-generators for those who have received Red Cross support.

“Kick-starting livelihoods is key to the long term recovery of disaster-hit communities and we have made this a priority in our work, as well as housing,” said Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Richard Gordon. “One year after Haiyan robbed so many families of their income, we are seeing people return to work and others setting up new businesses.”

Peanut butter production, candle making, and turning truck tyres into kitchen kit are also among the micro-enterprises that have been set up by entrepreneurs using the grants.

Six million workers saw their livelihoods either wiped out or damaged by the disaster – of which 2.6 million were living on or below the poverty line before the typhoon (UNOCHA/ILO

Vocational training such as sustainable farming techniques, hog rearing, book keeping, arithmetic and advice on how to diversify and grow businesses is also part of the Red Cross support package.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said: “Recovery is well under way but there are still humanitarian needs on the ground and we are working across 400 communities (barangays) to ensure people get the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

Father-of-three and rice farmer Jessie Lape Jr, from Luca in Ajuy, Panay, said: “The typhoon wiped out our crops and we had nothing to harvest – it was a desperate time.But the livelihood support has changed everything - I had the money to buy seeds, repair tools and now I have crop insurance. I can sleep easier knowing we are in a better position when the next typhoon hits.”

Since Haiyan devastated the region, PRC together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been on the ground supporting hundreds of communities. Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies from around the world are also working across the country as part of the typhoon recovery effort.

More than 1.3million people were provided with emergency relief in the aftermath and one year on, the Red Cross’s long term recovery plan is targeting some of the most vulnerable typhoon survivors.

Building back safer shelters and community training on construction practices are a central part of the plan, which places resilience and risk-reduction at its heart. Courses for masons and carpenters are being held and more than 6,500 fishermen have been provided with cash to buy or repair damaged boats.

Almost 6,100 houses have been rebuilt and in the next 15 months, 40,000 families will have received safer homes. More than 23,000 households have also received roofing sheets to repair their homes. A total of 192 classrooms have been repaired or rebuilt so far and rural health facilities are also being restored.