© UNICEF Philippines/2015/JBayaya
Tacloban City/ HONG KONG, 8 November 2015 — On the second anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan, UNICEF has commended the recovery and rehabilitation efforts undertaken in partnership with the Philippines government and non-government agencies, civil society, children and families.
In a ceremony held in Tacloban City with development and humanitarian partners, UNICEF recognized the community efforts that went into ensuring that children are healthy, safe and protected.
“The two year anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan marks tremendous progress in recovery and rebuilding efforts,” said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines. “UNICEF commends the great efforts invested by the government, civil society and communities to help children and families get back on their feet.”
“As UNICEF closes its recovery operations in Tacloban, we feel confident that the important achievements will be sustained to support children’s continued recovery,” Lotta Sylwander continued. “Supporting the post-Haiyan recovery has been a remarkable experience for UNICEF, not only for those worked on the ground in the Philippines, but for UNICEF globally as we worked relentlessly to bring attention and resources to help the recovery of affected children.”
Among UNICEF’s contribution in empowering children and communities and building resilient systems that can withstand future disasters are: a vaccine delivery chain that can continue to immunize children in spite of breakdowns and power outages; a school improvement plan that embodies a culture of safety and preparedness; disaster-resilient evacuation centres that double as community venues; better access to safe water and sanitation; life skills and network building for youth; and strengthened preparedness plans of local governments and line agencies.
UNICEF also noted a significant shift awareness of Filipino people when it comes to preparing for disasters. National and local governments, organizations and communities have taken preparedness measures seriously, as evidenced by the reduced number of casualties in subsequent disasters including the recent Typhoon Koppu/Lando.
Effective early warning systems, pre-emptive evacuations and improved government led coordination made a big difference in preventing the loss of life and property, applying many lessons that were learnt from the Haiyan response.
UNICEF’s work in the Haiyan corridor began with an immediate response that provided lifesaving supplies and services. A week after the typhoon made landfall, UNICEF and partners were able to restore the water supply, benefiting 200,000 people – a lifesaving intervention in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Support continued throughout the past two years, with communities making strides toward recovery.
Despite the significant progress made since Haiyan, UNICEF remains concerned about the remaining unmet needs of children and their families. Many families are still living in temporary housing away from their homes and livelihoods, in constant fear of another typhoon.
The healing process, especially for children, will take a long time. As a way to process their experiences, UNICEF is calling for meaningful participation of children in disaster planning, empowering them to become active participants in building resilience in their own communities.
“Children can be agents of change and must have a say in decisions that affect them,” Lotta Sylwander said. “They are the most vulnerable in times of emergencies, so their voice and their ideas can help communities become better prepared.”