On July 26, 2023, Typhoon Doksuri struck the Philippines, affecting 502,782 Filipinos. The impact was significant, leading to unfortunate consequences. According to the national disaster agency, 13 individuals lost their lives due to flooding and landslides. Tragedy further unfolded as a ferry boat capsized due to Doksuri’s powerful winds, resulting in an additional 26 fatalities. Notably, Doksuri possessed the intensity of a Category 4 hurricane. This calamity forced more than 42,000 Filipinos to evacuate their homes, adding to the ongoing homelessness crisis in the country.
Homelessness in the Philippines
Roughly 4.5 million people, out of the country’s total population of 106 million, were reported homeless in January 2023. This dire situation primarily stems from job losses, inadequate income and job instability. The homelessness crisis was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michelle Sicat, a 28-year-old single mother, relocated to Manila in pursuit of employment and secured a job as a shop assistant. Leaving her daughter and parents behind, she aimed to build a career. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit abruptly, leading to a strict lockdown across Luzon, the island where Manila is situated. The ensuing business closures left Sicat unemployed.
Desperate to return to her family, Sicat rushed to the bus station but faced immense competition for limited seats due to the overwhelming demand. She sought refuge at Manila Baywalk, and her life suddenly upended.
The issue of homelessness persists in the Philippines, with Typhoon Doksuri worsening the crisis, displacing more than 42,831 individuals (and the numbers continue to rise), all in search of shelter.
This challenge perpetuates the cycle of poverty throughout the nation. According to World Bank data, 6.1% of Filipinos live on less than ₱104 per day ($1.89), while 26% survive on less than ₱175.37 per day ($3.19) and a substantial 55.1% live on less than ₱301.42 per day ($5.49).
In the wake of this natural disaster, numerous organizations worldwide are mobilizing to provide financial assistance to the Philippines.
Aid From the European Union (EU)
The EU offered an initial €500,000 (approximately ₱30.3 million) for humanitarian relief efforts including emergency shelter, shelter repair, clean water and sanitation to those most in need.
Luzon, the regions of Cagayan Valley, the Ilocos region and the Cordillera Administrative region were among the most affected and are the target of the EU’s support.
“The EU expresses its swift and unwavering support to the Filipino people during the aftermath of typhoon Doksuri, which resulted in extensive devastation and tragic loss of life in the Philippines,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. “Without delay, we have initiated emergency relief efforts in close collaboration with our humanitarian partners to aid those affected during this challenging period.”
Americares is an organization that works to aid impoverished communities or those affected by natural disasters in health necessities. The organization is present in the Philippines, working to support the country as it deals with the results of typhoon Doksuri.
An Americares mobile medical team left the major city of Manila to offer primary health care to communities in the Isabela province. Flooding was severe in this area and left many roads impassable.
Paul Pagaran, Americares Philippines Country Director, said “Communities will be cut off from care and will need help providing essential health services, including treatment for waterborne diseases,” shortly after the storm touched land on July 26, 2023. Also, the Americares team distributed hygiene kits to many who suffered displacement due to the storm.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Doksuri, despite the challenges it brought to the Philippines, the international community is rallying to provide support. The EU’s rapid response, offering financial aid for emergency relief efforts, demonstrates solidarity with the affected Filipinos. Organizations like Americares are also playing a crucial role, sending medical teams and hygiene kits to areas in need. While the typhoon exacerbated the ongoing homelessness crisis and poverty cycle, these collective efforts are providing a glimmer of hope for those struggling to rebuild their lives and find a path toward recovery.
– Taylor Barbadora