One hundred days have passed since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Visayas region of the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and a trail of destruction in its wake. WFP’s Cornelia Paetz revisited people we interviewed in November 2013 to hear how they are getting on now, and what their hopes are for the future.
Read about our first meeting with Salvador Fumar here.
In Barangay Cabuloran, people are busy. “Everyone is out of their homes now, working in the communal garden or rice fields, and rebuilding their houses,” says Village Leader Salvador Fumar as we meet him in his home to hear how his community is passing the 100-day mark since Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, tore through it.
The four families who had to seek temporary shelter after the storm were able to repair their houses with the help of aid organisations and neighbours. “All could celebrate Christmas at home – with food from WFP!” says Salvador. “The food we received from WFP and the government was crucial. Most food stocks were washed away by the typhoon, like everything else. With your help, at least people could eat,” he adds.
In the weeks after the storm, every family in Salvador’s Barangay received rice from WFP, distributed as part of the government’s family packs. When the local market opened again and traders began to offer a diversity of food items, families who are enrolled in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a social safety net for the poorest of the poor, also started receiving cash as a top-up to their usual allocation. The money not only lets them buy the food they need in local shops, but by extension also stimulates local markets and services, giving the whole community a kick-start on the road to recovery.
“Now, we look toward the rice harvest in May. We don’t want to keep buying from the municipality; we want to produce our own food,” Salvador says. “We also requested vegetable seeds from the Local Government. Today, I will attend a meeting of Barangay Captains; hopefully there will be news on the seeds distribution.”
Photo courtesy of Philippine Coconut Authority
Subsistence farming may have to become a longer term solution for many inhabitants of Cabuloran while the coconut plantations in the area recover. Across Leyte, Samar and Biliran islands, Haiyan has damaged or destroyed more than 33 million trees, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority, robbing not only the plantation owners but thousands of labourers like the villagers of Cabuloran of their income.
“The government will need workers to plant new seedlings, but in the seven to ten years needed for the trees to fully grow, the coconut labourers will have to become farmers, or breed livestock,” Salvador ventures.
Asked about his own home and family Salvador smiles: “With all this paperwork and the many meetings I have to attend now, I don’t see my wife and children much. But we are fine. The roof is still leaking, but the house is ok.” And as if to prove his point, he is off to his next meeting.