Sustainable Relief Efforts In The Philippines


Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) has devastated parts of the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and millions lacking food, water, shelter, power, communication, and livelihood.

As you know, we go through this kind of disaster pretty much every year, and tons of plastic and instant food are sent in relief goods. We understand the need for these instant-use goods, and there's definitely a place for using them in first-response situations, but we also need to figure out sustainable long-term solutions to mitigate waste and to be better prepared for the next disaster.

Sustainability means improving health (physical and psychological), reducing waste, helping the environment, restoring livelihood, and providing education in order to help people in the long-term. Specifically that means reducing single-use plastic materials, using nutrient-dense low-cost practical nourishing local foods, using clever multipurpose items, and empowering people with clean technology and the means for them to begin rebuilding. In addition-- efficiently organized, wisely budgeted operations are also part of sustainable solutions.

I know it's difficult because instant, single-use items (usually wrapped in throw-away plastic packaging) are so much easier and cheaper. People are finding ways to creatively work around this, and are taking steps towards less waste. It's challenging to create a "perfectly sustainable" or "zero-waste" system, but one can at least take steps toward this direction.

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A constantly updated list of sustainable relief/rebuilding efforts -- PLEASE contribute your suggestions! We want these ideas to be SHARED, COPIED, and IMPROVED upon.
Last updated Feb. 3, 2014.

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Green ReLeaf is about long-term sustainable rebuilding, deploying seedlings to help families rebuild their farms and gardens of edible veggies.

Gawad Kalinga and Habitat For Humanity are both about empowering locals to rebuild their own communities.

Balik Dagat is restoring fishermen's livelihood by sponsoring boats made by the local boatbuilders and the fishermen themselves. "Boatbuilding is subcontracted to local villagers who are also fishermen, craftsmen and boatbuilders. Boatbuilders build the hulls while beneficiary fishermen take care of their own bamboo outriggers and fishing gear. It is important that owners do the completion of the boats by installing the bamboo outriggers for a sense of ownership and craftmanship,  and determining the final adjustments and balance of the boat." As of Feb 2014, they've reached their target of 200 boats and capped fundraising. Updates are being posted.

The Peter Project is restoring fishermen's livelihood by giving them boats. Any amount donation accepted. Each boat costs P20,000, inclusive of community organizing and monitoring costs, and donors are given a monthly report of the fisherman's catch.

Adopt A Small Island Initiative focuses on the long-term recovery of small island barangays, particularly by providing boats (estimated cost at P15,000 each). Donors may request for updates on their "adopted" islands.

Save Philippine Seas, a marine environment preservation org run by "chief mermaid" Anna Opposa, is raising funds for Malapascua in Northern Cebu, to go to the rebuilding of the schools and the spirits of the students and teachers

ChildFund provides Child-Centered Spaces and psychosocial support to help children cope and recover after an emergency. They also help rebuild schools and vital social infrastructure. They've already set up at least one child-centered space in Leyte, with trained social workers and volunteers to provide children and their caregivers with psychosocial support, along with learning activities, games, songs and dance.

Solar-powered lights to light up hospitals and evacuation centers, from a youth-led organization providing solar-powered lights to impoverished, off-grid Filipino communities.

GreenFocus Inc. (partnered with One Million Lights PH and Malong Ni Mama) is donating WaterBoy units that create potable water out of air, so no water sources needed.

Wakawaka solar lamps: buy one, give one to the Philippines.

Waves For Water will be delivering compact portable water filtration systems thru the Romualdez foundation.

Help send LIFESAVER 15,000 Litre jerrycans to the Philippines to provide clean sterile drinking water to a village of 50 for over 6 months.

Send Lifestraws (pocket-sized portable water filtration systems) to typhoon victims to provide them a quick and safe way to get clean water from most water sources.

Project LightLine has University of the Philippines students recycling old chargers and batteries into disposable energy sources.

Malong Ni Mama, by Hannah and me, focusing on using local multipurpose health-promoting products with less wasteful packaging, for Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

#SlippersForSurvivors by Kage Gozun provides locally-made slippers, helping people keep their feet clean and safe as they walk around in dangerous debris-filled areas. Also partnered with Malong Ni Mama.

The Great Panty Drive provides clean underwear to typhoon survivors, helping improve sanitation and health, as well as giving them the peace of mind of having a fresh change.

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Some helpful tips in the conduct of humanitarian operations by Milet B. Mendoza, Humanitarian and Development Worker

How to use t-shirts to wrap relief goods (instead of using plastic bags) - photo demonstration

Paulo Alcazaren says: "Let's rebuild Visayas but in a better way inspired by the past. We built Gabaldon schools 100 yrs ago why not now?"

Pack relief goods in water containers (instead of using plastic bags) because the large water containers are very practical and reusable - photo demonstration

Paula Aberasturi writes about bamboo greenhouses, mulching, crop covers, canals and ditches, etc., and says: "Sustainable agriculture [can be] a mitigation and adaptation approach to unpredictable weather."

At Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm's National Workshop for Organic Farming, Nick Perlas explained that the pineapple crop's yield is enough to lift its farmers out of poverty; and during a flood/typhoon, planted pineapples can be submerged for as much as 5 days in water without suffering damage.

Mangrove restoration saved our lives and our economy, says villager in Northern Samar, Philippines

Ginggay Hontiveros' tips for volunteers to help effectively

Tony Oposa's rainwater catchment suggestions-- modular, scalable cost, easy construction, effective mitigation of flooding

In Bantayan Island, Cebu, a windmill was put together by locals using simple materials and techniques in order to generate electricity. (Details pending, info via Clara Balaguer.)

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Please do comment and share your ideas for making relief and rebuilding efforts more sustainable! :)

This year's list of sustainable relief efforts was originally posted on my Facebook.

On a related note, I've also posted a list of Home, Herbal, Natural Remedies and First Aid, as a guide for people stranded at home to due floods, or those without access to medicine.

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We welcome respectful discussion and debate! Thank you for sharing your ideas and feedback. :)