IOM, UNICEF Open First Typhoon-Resilient Evacuation Centre in Guiuan, Philippines

Philippines - As the Philippines experiences the effects of El Niño and the threat of stronger typhoons looms, UNICEF and IOM joined partners and the local government of Guiuan today (19/04) to inaugurate the first disaster-resilient evacuation centre in the country.

On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) made its first of six landfalls in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. The municipality was severely affected after absorbing the full impact of the typhoon. More than two years after Yolanda, Guiuan has stepped up its disaster risk reduction efforts to minimize the effects of future emergencies.

The pilot community evacuation centre is the first in a network of evacuation centers in Eastern Samar that are being established through a partnership between UNICEF and IOM. The project is funded by Fuji TV, a Japanese television station and partner of UNICEF in Japan.

The multi-purpose evacuation centre will provide safe shelter for up to 350 people if an emergency hits. It will also serve as a space for the community to gather and socialize during normal periods.

The building, able to withstand category 5 winds and magnitude 8 earthquakes, combines international best practices in disaster-resilient design for mass evacuation centres with local construction technologies and locally available materials. This will allow the structure to be replicated at other sites across the Philippines.

It also includes a playground that can be used as a child-friendly space in times of emergency and a colorful mural designed by children and artists of Guiuan.

“The opening of the evacuation center in Guiuan is a testament to a new start and better prepared communities. This disaster-resilient evacuation center symbolizes the resilience of Guiuananons, who have been making great progress in rebuilding their community. UNICEF continues to work with local governments such as Guiuan to ensure that children who are the most vulnerable are protected in times of emergencies,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander.

“IOM, with support from UNICEF, Fuji TV and the Municipality of Guiuan, constructed this building to a tight deadline in the face of numerous challenges. And after nine months, the enthusiasm and professionalism of the project team and the unfailing support of our local and international partners has paid off with the completion of this multipurpose center,” said IOM Philippines Chief of Mission Marco Boasso.

The building, called the Sirungan ha Guiuan (Shelter of Guiuan), was designed with ample lighting to minimize bullying and gender-based violence in crowded emergency situations, as well as ramps and handrails for people with disabilities and the elderly.

The design maximizes natural light and ventilation and allows space for the registration and information sharing needed during mass evacuations. It also has storage space for supplies, generators and fuel.

Importantly for the humanitarian community, a dedicated evacuation center is a better alternative to the common practice of using schools as evacuation centres during emergencies, which can disrupt schooling for large numbers of children for extended periods.

For more information, please contact Ray Leyesa at IOM Philippines, Tel: +63 915 294 1031, Email: Or Zafrin Chowdhury at UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +63 917 867 8366, Email: