Foreign aid outperformed Philippine government — typhoon survivors

A man gives a thumbs-up sign after collecting humanitarian aid provided by the U.K. Royal Navy on the island of Naborot, Philippines. A local survey showed that Typhoon Haiyan victims gave foreign countries and groups a net satisfaction of excellent for their post-typhoon relief and recovery efforts. Photo by: Keith Morgan / U.K. Defence Images / CC BY-NC

Who did a better job on post-typhoon relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines, the government or international aid groups? The latter, according to the survivors.

In the latest poll conducted by the country’s main survey agency SWS, Typhoon Haiyan victims gave foreign countries and groups a net satisfaction rate of +83 or “excellent,” compared to the national government’s satisfaction rate of +61 or “very good.”

For a local branch of an international humanitarian organization, this can be seen as a sign of gratitude from Filipinos after the tragedy in November.

“It’s a good sign that Filipinos see things critically now and are more vocal in [making sure] that what they see [and receive] are of quality,” Cecil Laguardia, World Vision emergency response spokesperson, told Devex. “I think people are beginning to see that and it’s also really a challenge for the government to take that seriously.”

READ:Private sector stepping up in the Philippines

Foreign aid more visible?

The survey agency, on the other hand, argued there is no one particular reason that can be seen regarding this difference in satisfaction rate, given that one of the limitations of the survey is that the basic questions asked did not require respondents to explain the reasons to their answers.

“We’re not exactly sure [what are the reasons] but maybe they can see better relief activities from those institutions [foreign countries and groups],” SWS spokesperson Leo Laroza said. “We don’t really ask them to explain the answers.”

Laroza added that all post-typhoon response partners — foreign countries, private organizations, national and local governments — all received an average +70 satisfaction rate.

Local governments got a slightly higher satisfaction rate than the national government in Manila.

Opportunity to learn

For the veteran aid worker from World Vision, the figures should not be seen as a negative review of the national government’s response, but rather an opportunity for each stakeholder to learn from each other, ultimately making the people the winner.

“I see this as an opportunity for all of us to learn from each other. Maybe it’s time for the government also to collaborate and coordinate closely with different groups, especially with international groups, to be able to learn from each other and improve our future relief operations,” Laguardia said. “I think that’s what’s telling us. For us to learn from others.”

She added: “We really need to listen to each other, especially, to the Haiyan survivors. I think we need to really learn our lessons well and seriously this time and not take things for granted. If we talk to the community, and we take things honestly, then we will know how to effectively move forward from this.”

Relief and rehabilitation operations are ongoing in disaster-affected areas, with full rehabilitation expected to be completed in the next two years or at least before the current administration steps down in mid-2016.

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.