Charity Bailey—-Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever to hit Earth in recorded history, smashed into the Philippines on Friday, November 8th, 2013. It ripped across the center of the nation, with storm surges of 8 to 13 feet and nearing 235 mph. Entire cities were devastated. The death toll estimate ranges from around 3,000 to over 10,000, with millions more left homeless, who are either staying in evacuation centers or with friends or relatives. In total, over 10 million people were affected by the tragedy. It is difficult to post accurate estimates of the damage because some hard-hit parts of the country have not yet been reached.
The most significant immediate and long-term concerns are health issues. Rebuilding a properly functioning medical system will take a great deal of time, as many hospitals were destroyed in the storm. Health workers have struggled to provide care under makeshift conditions with inadequate supplies. Mobs have attacked trucks with clean water, tents, food, and medicine. Looting has emptied pharmacies and supermarkets. Hundreds of thousands of survivors live in squalor in relief shelters. Aid agencies such as the Red Cross, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Israeli Defense Force, Save the Children, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) struggle to provide enough personnel and supplies. Medical experts warn that though the physical effects of the disaster can be immediately treated, the psychological effects are long-term and deeply scarring.
Aid is pouring into the Philippines, but not all of it reaches those to whom it is designated. Though this is always a problem with disaster aid, it appears to be exacerbated by the ubiquity of graft and corruption in the Philippines. The question is not whether a leakage of funds will occur, but to what extent. Graft undoubtedly contributed to the extent of the disaster, as money intended for roads was siphoned off for other uses. In the long term, as donations of supplies like food, clothing, and medicine give way to financial contributions for rebuilding, it is inevitable that the deep-rooted corruption in the Filipino economic and political system will continue. The situation is made worse because in some areas, certain victims are marginalized for political reasons.
Typhoon Haiyan tore through some of the poorest regions of the country, destroying crops, livestock, coconut plantations, and fishing boats. Fortunately, important manufacturing bases and financial centers were bypassed. Because the affected areas account for a small percentage of the GDP of the Philippines, some experts suggest that the long-term economic effects of the disaster will be relatively light. Others, however, warn that developing nations like the Philippines will find it harder to recover from such a trauma, due to lack of private-sector aid and insurance coverage. The economic effects of the disaster will take much longer to recover from than a similar disaster in a developed country.
In the aftermath of the typhoon, a top official from the Philippines Climate Change Commission called on developed nations to agree to a plan to compensate developing nations for disasters brought about as a result of global warming. Countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions would compensate countries affected by catastrophic storms. This is sure to be an ongoing heated topic in the international political community.
Though beginning steps have been made, medical, psychological and economic recovery of the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan will take years.
This article was provided by Charity Bailey, current Environmental Studies major and past disaster relief volunteer. If you’re a coastal company with extended projects, Charity Bailey recommends you check out Gulf Land Structures, a leading offshore accommodation company.