Counting the Cost

The economic toll of Typhoon Haiyan

Counting the Cost examines local initiatives as residents of the Philippines rebuild their lives and their economy.

Last updated: 07 Dec 2013 09:51
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On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines. The satellite pictures showed the sheer size of the storm, which was at one stage some 600km across with winds of up to 300kmph.

More than 3,600 people are known to have died and over 1,000 people are unaccounted for. Some 11 million have been directly affected by the storm.

Very little is left on the shoreline at Tacloban.

There is nothing left of Roldan Valles' house. "I was in my house when the storm came, and as it got stronger we hid inside the village hall," he says. "I was here with my uncle and my step-brother. There were three big waves that washed over the building. Basically we lost everything ... the boat, equipment ... the only thing left is a small net."

But it was not only properties and possessions that were lost, it was livelihoods too. Valles is a fisherman. Or rather, he was, given that his boat now sits a couple of kilometres inland.

"Before the typhoon I was earning about 300 pesos ($6.83) a day from the catch, but now I do not earn anything because what I catch is what we eat .... And because I do not have a boat," he explains.

The main challenge - after the emergency aid phase - has been to get people working so that the local economy can begin ticking over again.

Many residents decided to stop hoping for outside help to arrive, and began helping themselves. They started with a 'work cash scheme'.

"We give them 500 pesos ($11.38). So that even if they are cleaning their house, we pay them," explains Judy Lao from the Tzu Chi Foundation. "The whole point is that if every one of them is cleaning up Tacloban, we can revive it."

"And then with the money they have on hand, they are able to buy things. If you go to the markets now, you can see there are a lot of things for sale. Immediately the economy has been revived."

Others are trying to make a difference through philanthropy.

But with many still without food and water, questions are being asked about the government's response to this crisis.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria  @KamahlAJE  and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali 


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