Typhoon Doksuri in the PhilippinesOn 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’ Support

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. 

Looking Ahead

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
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid in the PhilippinesAs of 2021, the Philippines is the 12th most populated country, with a population of approximately 109 million people. Industrialization in the country has increased, poverty has decreased — from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018 — and the Philippines has one of the lowest household debts in Asia. However, it has been historically known as a frequent recipient of foreign aid.

Top Aid Givers

Some notable givers of foreign aid in the Philippines are Japan, the United States, Australia, Korea, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). As of 2018, Japan was still the largest source of foreign aid in the Philippines. The aid comes in the form of grants and loans that total $5.98 billion for projects throughout the country. One notable project is a subway in Manila, Philippines. The World Bank comes in next with $3.13 billion, followed by the ADB with $2.24 billion.

The United States is another large investor of foreign aid in the Philippines. The aid provided is used to advance democratic values, promote peace and security and improve education and health. Disaster relief and recovery have become a large part of aid to the Philippines. The U.S. donated more than $143 million to help the country recover from the devastating typhoon in 2013.

The Philippines and Papua New Guinea

In 2018, the Philippines, usually a receiver of foreign aid, had the chance to give foreign aid to another country. Papua New Guinea struggled with the drop in oil prices worldwide; oil was a major export for the country. Papua New Guinea needed to diversify its economy, and the government of the Philippines agreed to give aid to the struggling country through a partnership. The aid took the form of helping with industrial crops, inland fish farming and agriculture, particularly rice production.

Growing rice in tropical countries can be particularly tricky. The Philippines, however, has expertise in many different strains of rice — some of which can even hold up in severe weather like typhoons — and has even previously passed on knowledge to other countries in Africa and Brunei. Through the cooperation between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, President Duterte believes food security can be ensured.

COVID-19 Aid to the Philippines

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, 14 countries sent foreign aid to the Philippines, either in cash or through in-kind aid, such as medical supplies. These countries include Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, France, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, among others. Many of the countries donated personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks, test kits and ventilators to help the Philippines combat the novel coronavirus.

China sent a team of experts to help treat patients and shared packs of rice in remembrance of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Japan sent experts as well, and the U.S. made monetary donations of approximately $4 million and $5.9 million respectively to help prepare labs to process novel coronavirus test kits and to help local governments respond to the outbreak.

South Korea has donated more than $5 million in humanitarian assistance to the Philippines during the pandemic. Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man said this was to honor what the Filipino soldiers did to help in the Korean War. South Korea has helped with foreign aid in the Philippines for the past 70 years, for disasters both natural and man-made.

The Philippines has been knocked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still potential for the country to recover. There is a vast, young workforce and a growing middle class to bolster efforts to regain footing in the country. Foreign aid in the Philippines can help the country regain the progress it had been making leading up to 2020.

– Courtney Roe
Photo: Flickr

Aid to the Philippines
In November 2020, the Philippines faced several moderate-strength typhoons: typhoons Vamco, Goni and Molave. After the disastrous effects of these storms, organizations based in the Philippines and the U.S., as well as ambassadors from European countries, pulled together to provide resources to aid the Philippines in its time of need. In particular, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) both stepped in to assist those who lost their homes and who were in great need of supplies like food, shelter, water and soap.

The Philippines’ 2020 Typhoon Season

Each typhoon occurred within weeks of one another during the Philippines’ 2020 typhoon season. Typhoon Molave was the first to hit the Philippines and Vietnam. The Category Two natural disaster began on Oct. 25, 2020, in Batangas. Eight days later, Typhoon Goni hit Bicol on Nov. 2, 2020, destroying cities as a Category Five typhoon. Typhoon Goni was the strongest to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Meranti in 2016.

Typhoon Vamco

The situation worsened beginning on Nov. 11, 2020, as Typhoon Vamco reached the islands. According to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which generally moves from 210-249 kilometers per hour, Vamco was a Category Four typhoon. Typhoon Vamco affected areas across the Philippines such as Bicol, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Manila. Moreover, around 350,000 people lost their homes due to this most recent tragedy. Additionally, the storm affected 4 million people due to the destruction of farmland and businesses.

What is the PDRF?

In November 2020, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation teamed up with Dutch, German and United Nations ambassadors to help the Philippines and Cagayan Valley. The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, or PDRF, is a private organization the provides aid during emergencies and disasters within the Philippines. The PDRF managed to deliver food and non-food items to Cagayan Valley in an event called “Aksyon Para Sa Cagayan.” People secured hygiene kits and food, while other organizations like AirAsia provided labor by helping move supplies and managing transportation and temporary housing. The PDRF, along with Netherlands Ambassador Saskia de Lang, German Ambassador Anker Reiffenstuel and U.N. Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez cooperated to distribute food and organize hygiene kits and other supplies to those in need.

What is NAFCON?

One other group that is working to provide aid and resources to those the typhoon has affected is NAFCON, or the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. NAFCON is a U.S.-based Filipino advocacy alliance intended to focus on Filipino and Filipino-American wellness. Various organizations involved with NAFCON include Kabataan Alliance, Filipino Community Center, Filipino Migrant Center and Malaya Movement. NAFCON uses connections with the U.S. to gain exposure to provide aid to the Philippines following Typhoon Vamco.

A super typhoon has hit the Philippines that has robbed many people of their homes and livelihoods. Still, Filipinos are lucky to have organizations like PDRF and NAFCON mobilizing to provide aid to the Philippines following Typhoon Vamco. With continued efforts both at a national and international level, Filipinos can hopefully recover and prosper in spite of the effects of this natural disaster.

Alyssa Ranola
Photo: Flickr