Philippines Typhoon Relief

January 2007 – September 2024
Last updated: July 2024

All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) has intermittently operated in the Philippines since 2007, responding to disasters such as Typhoon Rai (known locally as Odette), Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong). Our work is tailored to the unique needs of the disaster-impacted communities we work alongside. Primarily, this takes the form of restoring access to education by rebuilding typhoon-affected schools and constructing Transitional Learning Spaces (TLS). In Araceli, Palawan, this took the form of restoring livelihoods through facilitating fishing boat repairs led by an entirely Filippina team.

In May 2024, we launched a new phase of our typhoon relief program in Southern Leyte, where we are mobilizing volunteers and working alongside local community members to help build a school impacted by Typhoon Rai.

Find the details about volunteering on our program here.

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Our Work

Our newest program in Southern Leyte aims to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students affected by Typhoon Rai. The team is constructing a disaster-resilient building with two classrooms at Mahayag Elementary School, in partnership with Base Bahay, where we will provide training and a maintenance manual to ensure the building’s longevity and community ownership. Additionally, the school will receive a new playground and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, including accessible toilets and handwashing stations. We are also facilitating Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) trainings and coordinating WASH and Child Protection sessions, inviting students, teachers, parents and community members to participate.

Current Activities

In June, we held a groundbreaking ceremony with our local partner Streetlight to mark the start of construction, attended by local authorities and partners. Volunteers began installing Cement Bamboo Frame Technology (CBFT) at Mahayag Elementary School. Our Female Mason Training Program, which has been ongoing throughout AHAH’s Nepal programs since 2017, was initiated for the first time outside Nepal. We were joined by four women from the local community, who are being trained in construction skills and CBFT while supporting the school’s construction.

The community underwent training with DISOP, an NGO focused on reforestation and the planting of endemic species. They were trained in planting local plant species for soil stabilization.

Constructing With Sustainability

The school rebuild projects utilize Cement Bamboo Frame Technology, an innovative, disaster-resilient construction system. Sustainability and endurance are the core features of CBFT, which provides livelihood to farmers while benefiting the environment. The strong root network of bamboo stabilizes soil and water tables. Remarkably, bamboo reaches structural grade in just three to five years, making it an efficient and renewable building material. Its use in construction has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to conventional systems.

Additionally, buildings made with bamboo offer a more comfortable indoor climate, reducing energy consumption during occupation. Bamboo structures have remarkable resilience, standing strong against earthquakes and typhoons, with strength comparable to steel.

Disaster Profile

The Philippines is one of the most typhoon-impacted countries globally, with roughly 20 impacting the region annually. Typhoons, known as tropical cyclones and hurricanes in other parts of the world, are among the deadliest disasters.

Super Typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, made landfall on December 16th, 2021, bringing torrential rains, violent winds, floods and storm surges to the Visayas and Mindanao Islands. The typhoon caused devastating impacts on infrastructure, agriculture, and fishing communities and damaged or destroyed 1.7 million homes. An estimated 9.9 million people were severely affected, leaving about 2.4 million people in need of assistance and 408 fatalities.

Southern Leyte was one of the worst-affected provinces. Out of 528 schools, 312 of them were severely impacted. Rai destroyed 522 classrooms and damaged over 1,500.

Program History

Typhoon Mangkhut (known locally as Ompong) hit the Philippines in September 2018, making landfall in the province of Cagayan as a Category 5 storm. The storm’s effects only exacerbated the damage caused to this area as two years prior; they had been hit by Typhoon Haime (known locally as Lawin), a similarly destructive disaster.

All Hands and Hearts opened a program in January 2020 to rebuild two primary schools. Though the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the program, we worked with local contractors to complete the school’s build.

In Araceli, Philippines we worked across two boatyards, Tinintinan & Dagman to rebuild fishing boats, restoring livelihoods in time for the next fishing season. Led by a fully female Filippina team, the program repaired and rebuilt 73 fishing boats. Taking a community-driven, holistic approach to disaster relief, the program engaged only national staff and volunteers.

Our work in the island municipality of Araceli went beyond the physical repairs of the boats. In collaboration with local government agencies, we are delighted to start working with communities to provide Disaster Risk Reduction training to prepare them for future disasters.

In Southern Leyte, Typhoon Rai caused significant damage to many schools, further disrupting students’ education which was already suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Philippines reduced COVID-19-related restrictions and moved back to face-face education, there was a compelling and immediate need for classrooms in the region.

In AHAH’s second program responding to the impacts of Typhoon Rai, we helped schools provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students. In January 2023, we constructed ten Transitional Learning Spaces (TLSs) to fill the critical, immediate need of over 600 students to have a safe learning space. We also hosted Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) training for the community, to increase DRR knowledge and best practices. A key aspect of our program is providing training on a comprehensive maintenance manual for the TLS. Additionally, through our local partner, we delivered Child Protection training to students and parents of the school.

The team did an incredible job building the classrooms and connecting with each school community. While the program may have finished, the impact is lasting and will go far beyond the buildings.

In December 2023, after 100 volunteers dedicated five months of hard work, the team returned St. Francis School and its innovative WASH facilities to the Northern Tacloban communities. After a decade of educational disruptions caused by Typhoon Haiyan and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new school will provide over 500 students with a secure and inviting space to learn, play, and thrive. The positive impacts of the newly constructed WASH facilities at St. Francis and Kapuso School extend beyond the schools, contributing to the enhanced well-being of the entire Guadalupe community.

Additionally, the community received training sessions on Child Protection (by local partner Streetlight), WASH and DRR to enhance knowledge and preparedness for future disasters.

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