When typhoons strike the Philippines, U.S. aid follows

The Philippines is the oldest democracy in Southeast Asia and one of the United States’ closest allies. It’s no coincidence that when disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda) strike, the United States is among the first to respond.

That 2013 typhoon cut a path of destruction that killed 6,300 Filipinos, unleashed flooding and left parts of Leyte in ruins. The United States provided over $143 million in total assistance and continues to support relief and recovery efforts.

The money was distributed in big efforts and small ones, like the $1,200 USAID grant that Peace Corps volunteer Tyler Hassig secured to help fisherfolk on Panay Island rebuild a floating guardhouse and replace marker buoys around their small marine sanctuary.

Man building floor for a floating structure (Courtesy of Tyler Hassig)
Panay Island fisherfolk rebuild their marine sanctuary’s floating guardhouse. (Courtesy of Tyler Hassig)

“It was their idea,” says Hassig, now a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries biologist in Charleston, South Carolina. “They were receiving a lot of aid in the form of food rations after the typhoon, but what they needed was … to get the marine sanctuary back.”

Haiyan was the fifth typhoon in the Philippines since 2009 to which the U.S. Agency for International Development responded with large shipments of immediate humanitarian aid and emergency supplies.

After Typhoon Ompong battered Luzon and left 64 dead in the northern Philippines in mid-September, the United States, working through charities, provided six months of emergency rental assistance for 375 families in Benguet province whose homes were destroyed by landslides. The United States also purchased seeds for 1,400 farmers to replant crops in Cagayan province.

The U.S. always looks for ways to help people and communities get back on their feet for the long run. And the United States doesn’t just help in sudden emergencies. Over the past decade, it has contributed more than $76 million for tuberculosis treatment and prevention in the Philippines.

USAID’s ultimate goal in the Philippines and elsewhere is to help partner countries on their own development journey to self-reliance.