Friday, 23 May 2014

Prolonged Uncertainty for Filipinos Displaced by Haiyan

What's left of a woman's house in Guiuan, Philippines, Nov 15, 2014 (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recovery and reconstruction phases after a disaster is a critical phase in a community's renewal. The planning and project management required demands analysis that is accepted by all stakeholders that is extracted from expertise and sources that mutually considered reliable. But what happens in one region of the world does not necessarily translate into what may occur in another. Or even from one provincial island to another that experiences the same storm. After Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda hit the Philippines over four million people were displaced. Who was going to stay or evacuate. How many would return or not leave at all and attempt to rebuild immediately? This phase would be a daunting task for any organization or government agency. As we will soon learn in the following report by IOM, the organization has invested in extensive on site research on the recovery challenges experienced. It is an overview of a detailed report (linked at the bottom) titled, The Evolving Picture of Displacement in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The following article is republished with the written permission of International Organization of Migration (IOM)

Philippines - A new report from IOM and the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) sheds light on the extent to which Typhoon Haiyan uprooted communities when it hit the central region of the Philippines just over six months ago, and the evolving needs of displaced populations during that time frame.

While four million people are estimated to have been displaced by the disaster, only 400,000 sought shelter in evacuation centres, with the vast majority fleeing to urban areas, moving in with friends and relatives, or staying in their damaged homes in the days after the disaster, according to the report, entitled “The Evolving Picture of Displacement” and available at

In the first two weeks following Haiyan, some 17,000 people are estimated to have moved out of the affected areas to other parts of the Philippines, mainly Manila.  The large-scale movement that took place presents a challenge in tracking the needs of poor, vulnerable people who travelled to the cities and could be at risk of exploitation, indicating that more effective methods are needed for monitoring this substantial group.

Now, more than six months on, more than two million people are still without adequate shelter or durable housing, with over 26,000 living in temporary sites (evacuation centres, tent cities, spontaneous settlements and bunkhouses).  Many face prolonged uncertainty about whether they will be allowed to settle back in their former homes – most of which lie in designated “no-safe” zones – and what plans there are for their permanent relocation, with a lack of transparent information a key concern.

"In spite of the wealth of information generated, it has been difficult to form a coherent understanding of the evolving  and complex displacement situation [following Typhoon Haiyan] and this is critical to guide policy and prioritise responses on the ground," says Alfredo Zamudio, Director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the report’s co-author.

The report presents data gathered by the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) – a tool developed by IOM to gather information on the living conditions and needs of people in displacement sites across affected regions. It is implemented in the Philippines by IOM, as Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster co-lead, in close coordination with the Department for Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

During the emergency response, IOM drew on expertise from SAS Visual Analytics to quickly analyze the data gathered and identify, in near real-time, detailed information on what relief is needed and where.

“We have been working to enhance preparedness by developing practical tools for government officials, humanitarian organizations and affected communities,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. “The SAS collaboration provided the right tool at the right time. We, our beneficiaries and partners are all grateful for the partnership and technology.”

IOM analysis

During the frenzy of any disaster response, collecting real-time information on conditions across the thousands of islands in the Philippines is a massive challenge. This was particularly true in the wake of Haiyan, with phone services down throughout much of the country.

"In the days following the typhoon, IOM needed to know the conditions in the southeast coastal city of Guiuan – what relief was available to people in evacuation centres," said Nuno Nunes, IOM’s Global CCCM Coordinator.

A text analysis of more than 10,000 tweets indicated total structural devastation in Guiuan. However, it also revealed that the local Red Cross was distributing food and an Australian emergency medical team was on the ground. It shed light on what the local hospital needed most: essential medicines and fuel for generators so that critical hospital services could continue to meet increased secondary health care demands.

A major theme of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit is Innovation and Technology, and to this end the United Nations has called for a “Data Revolution” where more data is made public in order to strengthen accountability and build trust between society and states. IOM has made data public for many years, and is now leading the next wave of the Data Revolution by bringing statistical and analytical insights to the general public.

The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is used globally by IOM to gather a picture of the needs and conditions of people living in displacement sites.  Information and feedback is collected through focus groups, questionnaires and meetings with key informants.

IOM DTM teams in the Philippines have been deployed to sites across the affected region since the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and work in coordination with DSWD and local government welfare officers to gather data for the DTM.  Information is regularly shared with site managers, partners and inter-agency humanitarian clusters (Shelter, Health, Education, Protection, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, etc.) for corresponding action.

IOM hopes to create a shareable platform that can reduce the time it takes to analyze and visualize displacement tracking indicators. At the same time, it continues to innovate ways to use data to target relief efforts, including using social media to fill in information gaps.

“IOM is in the perfect position to modernize global humanitarian response efforts and save more lives. Efficiencies and analytic insights will benefit the relief organizations and countries who rely on information collected by IOM during a crisis,” said I-Sah Hsieh, Global Manager, International Development, SAS. “We look forward to bringing more innovations through proven analytic best practices.”

For more information, please contact

Conrad Navidad
IOM Philippines


Clare Spurrell

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