Swiss operations in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan

On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated large swathes of the Philippines' central islands. The very next day, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) dispatched experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) and relief supplies to the disaster area. The emergency relief phase lasted until mid-January 2014 and was followed by medium-term commitment, aimed at repairing schools, restoring drinking water supplies and securing livelihoods. The SDC ended its involvement in the Philippines in connection with Typhoon Haiyan in August 2014.  

The path of Typhoon Haiyan.
The path of Typhoon Haiyan. © SDC

In the night of Friday, 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated large swathes of the Philippines' central islands. With wind speeds in excess of 320 km/h, it was one of the most violent typhoons ever recorded. According to the Philippine authorities, more than 14 million people in the archipelago were affected. Over 1.1 million homes were destroyed or damaged. The provinces of Leyte and Samar were the worst affected.

Experts and relief supplies dispatched

Given the extent of the devastation, and following the Philippine government’s acceptance of international aid, on 9 November 2013 Swiss Humanitarian Aid dispatched a rapid response team to the disaster area, comprising Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) experts specialising in water and sanitation, emergency shelter, medicine and logistics. The team had up to 22 members, depending on the phase of the operation, and was active in the north of Cebu Island (including the island of Bantayan) and in the Ormoc region of Leyte Island.

An SHA member oversees the distribution of relief supplies.
SHA member Alain Pasche organising the distribution of relief supplies on the island of Cebu. © SDC

Swiss Humanitarian Aid sent 21 tonnes of relief supplies to the Philippines. These consisted mainly of water treatment and distribution equipment (drinking water tanks, disinfection equipment and water distribution systems). Medical facilities still functioning in the disaster area were supplied with four IDA kits, each covering the basic health-care needs of 10,000 people for three months. In addition, hygiene sets, foodstuffs, kitchen sets and, above all, emergency shelter kits were purchased on the local market and distributed to the affected population via local authority structures, under the direct supervision of SHA team members.

Support for multilateral organisations

The funding provided by Swiss Humanitarian Aid was used for direct actions in the areas of water, repairs to accommodation, livelihood and health care. It was also used to support aid operations carried out by international organisations active in the typhoon-hit areas. A total of CHF 3 million was donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organisation for Migration

Rehabilitation and reconstruction

Swiss Humanitarian Aid's emergency relief phase lasted until mid-January 2014. This was followed by a commitment in the transition phase, before the actual reconstruction began. During the transition phase, Switzerland focused primarily on rebuilding school roofs, rehabilitating drinking water distribution systems and restoring the livelihoods of the affected population in the regions of northern Cebu and western Leyte. A total of 30,000 people benefited from the restoration of drinking water pumping stations and rural water supply systems, while schoolchildren are now able to attend school in safe and secure classrooms once again. Four SHA experts were dispatched to ensure the successful implementation of these projects.

 Supporting the transition from emergency relief to reconstruction (PDF, Number of pages 3, 240.5 kB, English)

SHA experts have completed the construction of two new temporary schools in the traditional local style. In total, five such schools have been planned. © SDC

Regional conference on post-Haiyan

As well as providing emergency and reconstruction aid, Switzerland helped the Philippine government to organise a regional conference on natural disaster prevention and on dealing with the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan. The conference adopted a new frame of reference for the prevention of, preparation for and response to major disasters.

Regional conference on planning post-Haiyan

Additional information and documents