Eight months after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Central Philippines, villages are recovering, but not quickly. Many in the post-Haiyan Philippines are still displaced and lack proper protection for 2014’s Pacific typhoon season.
The storm was a category five, the highest a typhoon can be rated, and was one of the most intense in recorded history. It affected 12.9 million people, 13 percent of the country’s population, killing almost 5,000 of them. With 1.9 people left homeless and 2.5 million in need of food, there was a great necessity for emergency response. The response, for the most part, was met with great success, but just because the Philippines met its goal of immediate clean water, food, sanitation and temporary shelters, does not mean that the problem has been dealt with.
The situation in the post-Haiyan Philippines is all too familiar. As with most natural disasters, there is a period of time after they happen during which the world takes a special interest in the plight of those affected. Foreign aid and donations pour in from all across the globe, helping to supply emergency food and water as well as preventing the outbreak of disease and any breakdown in law and order. All of these efforts were successful in the Philippines, but then the story faded out of the news and soon enough people began to focus less and less on the conditions of the Filipinos, and the physical rebuilding of villages has been slow.
So far, fewer than 150 new permanent homes have been built out of a necessary 200,000. Many people are living on the streets, in temporary shelters that do not meet the safety requirements put in place by the government in order to withstand high winds, heavy rain and flooding. Many Filipinos have expressed anger at their government for not speeding up the resettlement process. One man, Toto Andrada, told CNN that, “the money is here–it’s just taking so long for the government to release it. Why?”
A big reason why has to do with bureaucracy for the government’s Building Back Better plan. The new homes being built have to meet more conditions than ever before, including the building’s infrastructure has well as the land it is built on. Meeting these new conditions has proved time consuming, at the expense of current living conditions.
A report by the United Nations labor agency has found that the number of children involved in dangerous manual labor has increased in 39 percent of 112 surveyed villages since the typhoon hit. This increase in child labor is likely the result of families being ripped apart by the storm, as well as higher rates of poverty. Often, when families need money desperately, parents will resort to removing their children from school and enlisting them in the work force.
The slow recovery may even prove disastrous, as those who were displaced by typhoon Haiyan are at a greater risk should the Philippines be hit by another typhoon. Unfortunately, recent weather reports are siting typhoon Neoguri as the latest threat. Neoguri is expected to develop into a super typhoon, just like Haiyan was, and could prove damaging to the northern Philippines, although the blunt force of the storm is expected to impact Japan’s island of Okinawa more than anywhere else.
Neoguri is the first super typhoon of 2014, but more storms are expected to impact the area throughout the summer and into autumn.
– Taylor Lovett