UNESCO Post Disaster Management Actions in Philippines


On October 15, 2013 at 8:12 AM (PST) a powerful earthquake (7.1 magnitude on the Moment Magnitude Scale) shook Bohol, Cebu and other parts of Central Visayas causing widespread damage and loss of life. Many significant heritage places were affected including historic urban landscapes, vernacular architecture and historic churches in Bohol and Cebu.

On November 8, 2013 Central Philippines was once again struck by a large disaster, this time by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an unusually catastrophic tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the central regions of the Philippines. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,201 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the fourth strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. As of January 2014, bodies were still being found. The cyclone caused catastrophic destruction in the Visayas, particularly in the provinces of Samar and Leyte. According to UN estimates, about 11 million people have been affected and many have been left homeless. 

In response to Typhoon Haiyan, UNESCO has delegated its experts to create a Desk Office in Manila that would assess the extent of damage and how UNESCO could contribute to the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected areas. The UNESCO Desk in Manila has since developed needs-based project portfolios - concepts and proposals, which outline immediate response and support to the people affected and the Government of the Philippines. The proposals were developed in coordination with the United Nations Humanitarian Country Team supporting the Government of the Philippines. The proposals are included into the Strategic Response Plan (SRP) published on 10 December 2013 by the UNOCHA on behalf of the Philippine Humanitarian Country Team.

Download the project sheet of Super Typhoon Haiyan Strategic Response Plan here

SRP-included proposals

1. Project Title: Emergency Psychosocial Support for Secondary School-aged students affected by Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines

Cluster: Education

Objectives: To support the Government of Philippines' education system through the enhancement of national and local capacities in response to immediate needs of secondary school children affected by emergency situations such as typhoons, earthquakes and/or floods. A collaborative effort to revisit existing tools, systems and policies in addressing post-disaster stress among school children, particularly secondary students, will be facilitated by this partnership with the Ministry of Education division heads, their principals and teachers.

Beneficiaries: 5,300 affected education personnel (Department of Education, Trainers, School principals, inspectors and teachers)

Total Proposed Budget: US$900, 000 (Japanese Government is supporting a component of this project; see Status Updates)

Project Duration: 12 months


2. Project Title: Immediate rebuilding of observing systems, strengthened hazard assessment and training on inter-agency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for coastal Extreme Events in Philippines

Cluster: Early Recovery and Livelihoods

Objectives: Basic observing systems are replaced, hazard assessment is reinforced and SOPs are entrusted into the Philippines’ national Early Warning System

Total Budget: US$892,700

Project Duration: 6 months


3. Project Title: Emergency Support to the Recovery of Local Media and Humanitarian Information Capacity in Areas Affected by the Typhoon

Cluster: Early Recovery and Livelihoods

Objective: Supporting the restoration of community services to coordinate and manage the humanitarian response, reduce risks and increase resilience. This is to ensure: 

Rapid and sustainable rehabilitation of public, local and community media sectors to produce locally relevant and accurate information (including humanitarian and disaster sensitive information), increasing effectiveness of the early recovery efforts.Supporting journalists, media practitioners, and communicators to go back to work safely and professionally, with their skills upgraded to address post disaster humanitarian information needs. Mainstreaming of UN Communication for Development best practices and the UN Action Plan on Safety of Journalists into the international recovery effort.

Total Budget: US$640,000

Project Duration: 12 months


Status Updates

The Japanese Government, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has already extended its support to the project entitled “Emergency Psychosocial Support for Secondary School-aged students affected by Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines” with a budget of US$500,000. UNESCO Jakarta is the implementing office for this project and it has already coordinated with the Philippine Government, through its Department of Education, in terms of fleshing out the activities in the project design.UNESCO has consulted with other national government agencies, such as the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in organizing seminars and forums where sharing of experiences and best practices could inform local and international stakeholders in response to the threat of future natural disasters. These international seminar/forums are tentatively set to happen within 2014.Another strong government agency partner is the National Commission for Culture and Arts, which has designated a focal point for the rehabilitation of National Cultural Treasures that are closely monitored by many local and international groups, including UNESCO, because of their value as cultural heritage. UNESCO Jakarta, through its Manila-based liaison officer, is now coordinating with the National Historical Commission and the National Museum to ensure that damaged churches, both in Eastern Visayas and Bohol (damaged mainly by the Earthquake that struck the islands a few weeks before Typhoon Haiyan). UNESCO also emphasizes the importance of working with the private sector, particularly interest groups such as NGOs and foundations, in the effort to raise funds that will support the reconstruction of these damaged churches.UNESCO has also reiterated the importance of working with cluster teams, i.e. Education cluster, in order to harmonize all efforts that address certain needs in the Visayas. This mode of coordination increases the chance of avoiding duplication among different UN agencies and other international organizations that have also established local support mechanisms to aid the government’s initiatives in rebuilding better and more resilient communities.UNESCO has visited a number of state parties, through their embassies in Manila. Among these are the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, the Norwegian Embassy, the Korean Embassy, the UK Embassy , the Australian Embaasy and the Japanese Embassy. Initial discussions have also been started with Multilateral Organizations such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to explore ways to cooperation in the coming months.


ANNEX: Other Proposals Not Included in the SRP

1. Project Title: Community Based Cultural Heritage Revitalization for Disaster and Livelihood Recovery after the Bohol Earthquake and Haiyan (Yolanda) Typhoon

Cluster: Culture


i.) Immediate income and livelihood generation for affected communities through community based rehabilitation/conservation of selected cultural heritage places; 

ii.) Revitalization of tangible and intangible cultural heritage for sustainable development; 

iii.) Post‐disaster healing for women and children in disaster affected areas.

Total Budget:  US$3,570,235

Project Duration: 24 months 



2. Project Title: Emergency support to school zoning and structural safety guidelines for pilot rebuilding of safe schools.

Cluster: Education

Objectives: Enhancing Philippines’ resilience to typhoons and earthquakes and to disaster preparedness and resilience of government, NGOs and communities by supporting the construction of safe school zoning and reconstruction.  

Total Budget:  US$745,000

Project Duration: 12 months 


3. Project Title: Emergency Management of Groundwater and Environmental Resources

Cluster: Water Sanitation Hygiene (WASH)

Objectives: Restoration of community water supplies by disinfection of wells and reduction of increased levels of hyacinth caused by floodwaters containing high loads of sediment, debris, and chemical and biological contaminants.

Total Budget: US$1,900,000

Project Duration: 12 months


4.Project Title: Emergency support for multi-level community preparedness and responsiveness to extreme events forecasts

Cluster: Early Recovery

Objectives: Scientific and institutional framework for extreme events prediction, risk identification and early warning alerts reviewed and strengthened to assure community level responsiveness. Disaster preparedness and emergency response practices strengthened for the local communities through alternative communication tools.

Total Budget: US$1,500,000

Project Duration: 12 months


5. Project Title: Emergency Response to Recent Disasters in Visayas Region through Community Based Cultural Heritage Revitalization and the Promotion of Emergency Employment and Livelihood

Cluster: Early Recovery

Objectives: To assist the government and the civil society to recover from the recent disasters  through the rehabilitation of damaged cultural properties  and museums, which can be undertaken simultaneously to promoting emergency employment of local communities for their livelihood; 

Total Budget:  US$3,000,000

Project Duration: 24 months


Download the project sheet of Super Typhoon Haiyan Strategic Response Plan here

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