Medair Assessment Following Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines

Eric Fewster, an AECB member, has just returned from the Philippines where he was part of the assessment and first response team in one of the worst affected areas following Typhoon Haiyan. The assessment was carried out for Medair, a Swiss-based relief and rehabilitation organisation.

Although the team also assessed the water, sanitation and health status, it was shelter which came out as being clearly the top priority.  This was especially evident for families who had been living in lightweight structures (ie made of bamboo or wood) as these were the ones that were completely destroyed during the typhoon.  In Dulag municipality where Medair is now working, these destroyed lightweight structures number 8,100, which constitutes 73% of the entire housing stock in the municipality.  These lightweight structures were largely affected by the winds in Dulag, whereas in areas further up the coast towards Tacloban City, the storm surge was also a contributing factor.

In Dulag, Medair wants to help 6,600 of these families to rebuild their houses.  They intend to do this by sourcing and distributing building materials to families.  However, the method of distribution is planned in several stages, whereby together with the municipal engineers, quality checks can be carried out on any building work done to ensure that certain key structural practices are followed prior to a family receiving the subsequent materials.  These key structural recommendations for lightweight structures are not complicated – for example the addition of concrete footings, or the addition of strapping for rafters to purlins.  The recommendations have been largely informed by OFDA’s (Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance) wind tunnel tests in Florida, with the aim to increase the resistance of the buildings for up to Category 3 hurricanes – this has in turn informed the bill of quantities needed, and therefore the costs.  So while they may not stand up to a ‘super-typhoon’ such as Typhoon Haiyan, they will definitely be able to withstand higher wind speeds than previously.

The cost of materials alone for one wind-resistant shelter is around £600, while the real costs to deliver that are around the same amount, making the real delivered cost in the region of £1,200 per shelter.  The costs to deliver a shelter include things like administration, transport, international and local staff costs, rent, tools for households etc).

Medair is still trying to find funds for this project.  Part of it looks like it may be financed by an institutional donor, but much is still uncovered financially.  Therefore any donations will be gratefully received.  Anyone needing more detailed information about the realities of the situation on ground can contact Eric on 07814 788846 or email him at