Why does it take so long for aid to get through to the Philippines? And why is aid different for older people?

This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK and member of the Age International Board

As well as being the Chair of Age UK, I am also on the Board of its subsidiary charity, Age International. I believe passionately that people in later life all over the world deserve our support. That is why I am proud that Age International is helping older people in more than 40 developing countries around the world, including the Philippines after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan.

When disasters strike, people ask me three main questions:

 1.Will aid be delivered?

Yes it will. I have had the privilege of seeing our work in action. We work through local partners who know the situation on the ground better than anyone else. We have strict monitoring and evaluation procedures in place, so we know money will be used correctly. In the Philippines, we are working through our

Help Age International beneficiary Francesca Genemilo , 78, at a HAI food distribution camp. She has diabetes but no access to medicine , her husband who is also ill is taking shelter at the local clinic even though it has no staff."Because he is old the medical services think it is not an emergency"
Help Age International beneficiary Francesca Genemilo , 78, at a HAI food distribution camp. She has diabetes but no access to medicine , her husband who is also ill is taking shelter at the local clinic even though it has no staff.”Because he is old the medical services think it is not an emergency”

long-term partners, HelpAge and the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) with whom we have worked for 30 and 26 years respectively.

2.Why does it take so long to deliver aid?

Vast swathes of the country have been destroyed; aid workers and government officials themselves affected; electricity pylons knocked down; ports destroyed; airports closed; runways and roads covered in debris. This is not an easy environment in which to be operating. Anacleta, 77, told us “I’ve experienced many typhoons in my life, but this is the worst one ever.” Continue reading “Why does it take so long for aid to get through to the Philippines? And why is aid different for older people?”

Older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is one of the strongest storms to ever hit land.   Thousands of people have been killed; hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed; millions are at risk.  We estimate that approximately 1.3 million older people have been affected by the typhoon.

The typhoon crashed into the Philippines in the early hours of 8 November.  Pitch black, it was difficult enough to flee in darkness, let alone when contending with crashing waves and gushing winds.   Imagine if on top of that, you are a frail, older person.  How do you escape?   And then when you are in a place of safety, how do you get aid that suits your needs?

Older people are particularly at risk

Older women and men are particularly at risk in emergencies.  They are the ones least able to flee quickly; and the ones most likely to need support.  They often cannot run; they cannot carry possessions – such as blankets and clothes to keep themselves warm and dry.  They cannot queue for long periods for aid.COSE9  They cannot rebuild their homes alone.  They are often excluded from cash-for-work programmes, in the erroneous belief that they are no longer working.  For many agencies, older people remain invisible.

Not for us.  We seek out older people.  We ask them what they need.   And then we deliver ‘age-friendly’ emergency relief.  That sounds like jargon, but it’s really quite simple. Continue reading “Older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan”

Haiti Two Years on

This Blog was contributed by Brendan Gormley, Chief Executive, Disasters Emergency Committee

After an earthquake devastated large areas of Haiti on 12 January 2010, more than a million and half people were reduced to living in make-shift shelters in the streets and in any open space they could find. Two years later, over half a million people in the capital Port au Prince remain stuck in what should have been temporary camps.

Funds from the UK public raised through the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal have allowed our member agencies to provide assistance to 1.8m survivors over the last two years. They have helped in the capital but also in

Frederic Dupoux/HelpAge International

other towns and settlements that were affected, or where survivors from the city have sought refuge.

In the last year, the efforts of our members have necessarily been split between continuing to help provide basic, life-sustaining services and working with survivors to try to put their lives on a sustainable footing.

Treating and preventing the spread of cholera, which surged back again in October 2011 during the rainy season, is one of the reasons we have faced an extended emergency. The underlying cause though is the scale and complexity of the task of rebuilding a devastated capital city where most people lived in overcrowded slums before the earthquake. The government of Haiti, which must lead this process with support from the international community, was itself decimated by the earthquake and in the last year it has undergone a slow and difficult transition of power. Continue reading “Haiti Two Years on”