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Reconstruction in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan

In November 2013, the typhoon Haiyan destroyed the public infrastructure, the shelter and the livelihoods of thousands of people in the central Philippines. Caritas Switzerland applied the «help for self-help» approach to construct disaster-resistant buildings to replace devastated schools and private houses of particularly vulnerable communities and families.


On 8 November 2013, typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest hurricanes ever measured on land, struck the Philippines. The destructive force of wind blasts and storm floods took a toll of thousands of human lives and caused massive damage to private and public infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands lost the roof over their heads and their livelihood.

Caritas Switzerland had been in action there since the first day after the storm. With its partner organizations, the support of Swiss Solidarity and other Caritas organizations, it provided support to over 23 000 families in the provinces of Cebu, Leyte and Samar, providing them with food, emergency accommodation and utensils.

After completion of the emergency relief aid phase, Caritas Switzerland, with the support of Swiss Solidarity, began reconstruction efforts on the remote islands of Bantayan and Kinatarkan in the province of Cebu. The Caritas objective was to provide sustained and holistic help for self-help, so that the communities can look strengthened to the future.


Earthquake- and typhoon-resistant schools and houses

From spring 2014 to September 2016, Caritas rebuilt seven schools with 80 classrooms for 4200 children, using typhoon- and earthquake-proof construction methods. The school premises are intended to be protected and child-friendly places. Caritas also built sanitary facilities and carried out public awareness campaigns on the topic of hygiene. In addition, pupils and adults alike learned how to protect themselves during a natural catastrophe. The schools serve as evacuation centres, where people can find shelter. 

In Cebu Province, every fourth person lives on less than one dollar per day. On Bantayan and Kinatarkan too, many people lacked the money to restore their house through their own means. As of August 2015, therefore, Caritas has assisted 1200 needy families to use their own initiative to rebuild their private houses, typhoon- and earthquake resistant. The design of the buildings is based on local construction techniques and the materials used come from the region. Caritas was taking care to construct buildings that are stable and sustainable, while keeping costs as low as possible. This makes it easier for people to maintain or build their own houses. The last houses were completed in July 2017.

Build for a better future together

The local population was actively involved in styling the school buildings to suit its needs. From the first day of implementation, people were also closely involved in the building construction process. The fact of the matter was that the lack of stability of the original buildings had been due not only to poor building materials and the lack of funding by the impoverished municipalities, but also to the lack of knowledge regarding typhoon- and earthquake-resistant construction. That is why Caritas accordingly trained local building workers, working with them to develop repair and maintenance plans for the schools. The Caritas vocational training sessions help the unskilled workers to a guaranteed livelihood even beyond the closure of the building projects.


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