Still lending aid 1 year after Typhoon Yolanda

DUBUQUE — Too often after a natural disaster, communities are aided for a short period of time with immediate recovery relief and then left alone to rebuild by themselves after it seems that the majority of damage is restored. However, these places are in need for potentially years after the disaster actually occurs. UNICEF is an organization that does its best to follow through with the communities that they aid, so that they can get back on their feet and restore quality of life to equal or better than before the disaster.

This week marks the one year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, which struck the central Philippines last year in mid-November. It was a Category 5 storm, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, and impacted the lives of more than 14 million people. Yolanda brought winds over 200 m.p.h. along with torrential rain, which tore through the Philippines with a vengeance. It displaced over four million people from their homes, some of whom are still living in temporary shelters.

Over the last year, humanitarian relief effort groups have been working tirelessly to bring aid to those suffering in the Philippines. UNICEF has inoculated 1.3 million children against measles, helped to provide 1.3 million people clean water, given 500,000 children hygienic supplies, built 2,000 temporary learning spaces, provided 620,000 children with school supplies and assisted more than 40,000 children with psychological support. More recently, the efforts of UNICEF have shifted to more long-term efforts such as providing monetary help to 15,000 families to pay for basic necessities, strengthening the healthcare system by distributing vaccinations, and improving sanitation by building latrines and more sanitation structures.

Many Filipinos are displeased with how their government has responded to the crisis, but thankfully these humanitarian groups and other volunteers are stepping up to rebuild their communities. The rural and more impoverished areas were hit especially hard, and these are the areas where too many are still homeless, lacking schools and proper sanitation. Many Filipinos have stepped up in their own communities to help lead restoration efforts.

Hundreds of local volunteers have been rebuilding latrines, installing faucets and building septic tanks in schools and other public buildings. These locations are essential to the Filipino communities in order to provide a safe place for children, and in addition they could serve as possible safe places from future natural disasters.

There are additional long-term plans put in place by local and national governments as well throughout the country. In the city of Tacloban that was hit especially hard, the government has a location to build an elevated road connecting the city to two coastal towns nearby that would serve as a dike to hopefully prevent such devastation from possible future disasters.

Although much has been done by UNICEF, the Red Cross, other humanitarian groups and the Filipinos themselves to recover from this disaster, there is still much work to be done. It goes to prove just how long recovery can take from such a large-scale incident and also the importance of international participation in relief efforts such as what is going on in the Philippines.

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