A climate of resilience
With dense coastal populations, environmental degradation and prevalent poverty, the Philippines is one of the most exposed countries to climate change, and is second on the World Risk Index of countries vulnerable to natural disasters.
“We have established disaster preparedness committees for the future and an early warning system. I have a disaster plan for my family, and will follow the village captain’s instructions. We feel like we are typhoon resilient.”
The largest storm ever recorded, Super Typhoon Haiyan left a trail of widespread destruction across the archipelago in November 2013.
Haiyan destroyed the home of Gloria, a single mother of three and a rice farmer in Palo, Leyte. For more than 14 months, as her family tried to recover, they shared a small two-bedroom hut with her sister’s family of five.
Gloria recently met Patrick Makenen, Caritas Australia’s Southeast Asia Program Officer.
Gloria's story ... as told to Patrick
Patrick writes: This was my first visit to a humanitarian response program with Caritas Australia. I met with families affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan to see how they are rebuilding their lives and preparing to face future disasters. What I found was encouraging and inspiring.
Caritas Australia is part of Caritas Internationalis, one of the world’s largest humanitarian networks. By working through the church network, with Caritas Philippines, and with Catholic Relief Services (Caritas USA), already established in the area, Caritas Australia was able to deliver supplies immediately after the typhoon struck. Bolstered with support from the Australian community, the ongoing recovery process continues to help the most vulnerable to build their capacity and resources.
Caritas helps people to build resilience
Caritas Australia’s humanitarian response programs address immediate needs, support communities to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and increase resilience to future disasters. Communities learn how to protect themselves, prepare for disasters and improve their livelihoods. This is especially important in the Philippines, where 25 per cent of the population lives in poverty.
Most people in Gloria’s community live below the poverty line. When the storm surge ruined their land, they were left with little and the recovery phase was particularly difficult.
Caritas Australia and our partners help communities like Gloria’s increase their resilience to future disasters by strengthening their economic wellbeing and independence. The community has started using salt water resistant crops; many are also raising livestock and making handicrafts to sell, which provides income diversity. Increased income gives communities a better chance to prepare for and recover from disasters.
Life with dignity restored
I saw life with dignity being restored, Patrick continues: happy mothers with healthy babies, men continuing house reconstruction, and children running home from school. With safe housing, access to food and water and education for children, communities are finding the strength to rebuild with help from one another.
Gloria proudly showed us her new home, built with support from Caritas Australia and Caritas Philippines. Now she is confident about her family’s future: “We have established disaster preparedness committees for the future and an early warning system. I have a disaster plan for my family, and will follow the village captain’s instructions. We feel like we are typhoon resilient.”
For more about the programs on disaster risk reduction that Caritas Australia supports, see www.caritas.org.au/learn/drr