Today there was a news report from ABS-CBN in which the Philippine government proudly proclaimed that it will provide temporary bunkhouse shelter for 2,800 families in Yolanda affected areas by Christmas. Before we continue, let us be clear that we are  not a political organization. The only side we care about are those who are are struggling to survive a disaster. Our goal is to help people and organizations provide immediate and effective relief to those who need it. And that’s why we’re taking up this topic.

2,800 temporary shelters by Christmas. 1 Million homes destroyed a month ago.  Really?..  Is that something to be proud of? (actually it’s 119 shelters, each with 24 bunkhouse dwellings — thus 119 x 24 equals 2,856 “shelters”)

Let’s do the math. 1 million homes destroyed. 2,800 shelters on the way.  That’s 0.2%.

Which looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 9.11.23 PM

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit on 11/8 and and temporary shelters to house a fraction of a percent of the affected people will arrive by Christmas… that’s 47 days later… At this rate, it would take 64 years to provide temporary shelters to replace the 1 million homes destroyed.  We understand that the challenge is huge and we’re not in the business of ‘why can’t the government do more and do it faster.’

However, humanity as a whole needs to step up to this challenge and overcome anything that stands in the way. That starts with understanding what’s going on.

We’re starting to get more reports from the hardly talked about but equally devastated regions in Western Visayas.  Media coverage (which has essentially stopped internationally) has been focused on Leyte and Samar in Eastern Visayas, where the storm first hit and where most of the aid has gone so far. In western Visayas there are vast areas that have still not received aid, have no method to communicate with the outside world, and are not being talked about.  It’s scary.  Combine decreased media attention with increased need and the result is tragic.

Here’s a map to put it in perspective:

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 8.38.13 PM

Look at how many islands are in the path. These are heavily populated areas made up of literally thousands of tiny coastal and rural mountain barangays (villages).

Again.. here are the staggering, hard-to-wrap-your-head-around numbers:

  • 4,971 devastated barangays (villages) in an area of 25,000 square kilometers
  •  2.3 million households affected/11.2 million people
  • Over 1 million homes destroyed
  • “The brunt of Typhoon Yolanda’s powerful onslaught … wind velocity of up to 250 kph and accompanying storm surge, was absorbed by 63 municipalities in Region 8’s Leyte and Samar provinces; as well as 84 municipalities in (the Western Visayas region).“

Now plug in THESE staggeringly puny numbers, also from the government.

  • Housing kits being delivered: 200
  • Government temporary “bunkhouse” housing to be completed by Christmas: 2,800

How can they make these announcements with a straight face — as if this is actually addressing the problem? Do people out there understand how big the problem is and how little is being done to solve it? Maybe it wouldn’t seem so frightening if the Philippine government paired their announcements of these minuscule efforts with an honest assessment of the vast scope of the problem.  But they don’t. They proudly proclaim they are doing something meaningful when the truth is, it’s not.

We hope that this provides some clarity to those who are interested.

If you have any detailed information that might help us connect people with aid, please contact us.  Any info you have about areas affected, specific needs, experiences with government aid or NGO’s, successes and failures, worries and concerns.. all of this helps us build a stronger network of independent relief for the Philippines.