Coordination in action as shelter takes shape

Date Publish: 
Philippines / Asia

In Guiuan, Eastern Samar, a university campus has been transformed into a transitional camp providing refuge for 98 families – a total of 445 people – whose homes were swept away by Typhoon Haiyan.  IOM has been coordinating governmental, intergovernmental and NGO partners in Eastern Samar State University (ESSU) Tent City, formed by the local municipality after Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided 75 tents. 

IOM, working alongside the French NGO SOS Attitude, drew out a camp lay-out and worked with the government and residents to align the tents and ensure they were in a safe formation.  IOM then set out looking for partners, with the support of UNHCR, to handle water, sanitation, protection, health, and other services for the camp residents.

Within a week, IOM’s coordination efforts had paid off.  Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) cut through downed power lines to allow a vehicle entrance point to the field.  The municipality brought in sand to create a level road opening.  IOM, Oxfam and MSF provided 20 latrines, whilst Oxfam is also providing trash containers, bathing and washing facilities and training on hygiene. 

MSF gave IOM tents to use as cooking facilities, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assisted the municipality water department in providing a pipeline for camp residents.  UNHCR is providing tents for administrative needs and child-friendly spaces, in co-ordination with Community and Family Services International (CFSI).  Working with IOM and the government, CSFI, Oxfam and UNHCR will support the formation of camp committees and give training on water and sanitation, maintenance and protection in the coming days.

IOM continues to upgrade the camp daily, bringing in kitchen sets for the UK Department For International Development (DFID), solar lamps, and tarpaulins to reinforce the tents.  The Department of Health conducted a vaccine campaign, and health NGO Medical Teams International visits regularly to ensure camp residents have quality care and support.  Basketball hoops have also been installed by IOM and are proving highly popular.

Wheels within Wheels

Charlie and his wife and son live in ESSU Tent City, a camp managed by IOM. © IOM 2013 (Photo by Andrew Lind)

Charlie gets a tear in his eye when he tells his story, but he wants others to hear it. “I’m 100 per cent positive my story is similar to all the other people in Tent City.” Originally from Surigao del Norte, 43-year-old Charlie met his wife in Manila and migrated with her to her hometown in Guiuan. The two have a child, 10 years old; Crisanto has Down’s syndrome and needs special care which his mother provides.

“In the past seven years, our family built a life. I fished with the family-owned 25-foot boat or carried passengers to the local islands. My wife stayed home with Crisanto, caring for him in our house. The house sat on stilts along the waterfront. She also cared for my mother who has a crippled right leg.”

Then the typhoon hit.

“During the storm, our house was destroyed. My mother broke her left leg, now she cannot walk. Our family boat and motor vanished completely into the rubble.” Residents still talk about how they thought it was an earthquake. “Afterwards, I took my mother to Immaculate Conception School – an evacuation centre – as I did not have the conditions at home to care for her while she recovered and I needed to begin rebuilding our house.”

“But then we were told we could not build. We are in a hopeless scenario; in a permanent limbo with no land or place to stay.” Charlie also worries about his son. “He needs a special education school, but that school, along with all the others, was wiped away by the typhoon.” Charlie says he is willing to relocate, but wants land and support to start over if possible.

Charlie then showed us the bed he was building for his crippled mother. He scraped together scrap wood to create a bed for her, and wants to bring her back to the camp. But, without a wheelchair, he worries that she will find life uncomfortable. “She cannot stay in the tent during the day as it is too hot.”

IOM took Charlie’s request to the UN Coordination meeting and asked for support. Three days later, Medical Teams International brought IOM a used wheelchair for Charlie to bring his mother ‘home.’


Charlie and his wife and son live in ESSU Tent City, a camp managed by IOM.  © IOM 2013 (Photo by Andrew Lind)
Charlie’s family tent – he used scrap-wood to build a bed for his mother when she returns home. © IOM 2013 (Photo by Andrew Lind)