Typhoon Haiyan: Food, cash and supplies reach older people


By Attila Kulcsar

HelpAge International has begun a programme of cash transfers in a number of communities in Sagay City in Negros Occidental. The payments are targeted at older people, people with disabilities and households in excess of seven people.

With our partner Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) we gave cash payments to total of 377 people. They will now be able to buy basic necessities at the local markets which are now up and running again.

HelpAge and COSE are giving cash transfers to 377 vulnerable people affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Cash transfers to older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan will enable them to buy basic essentials at local markets. (c) Andrew Collodel/HelpAge International

Reaching remote communities with aid

COSE and HelpAge have also distributed aid to reach more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable people in the areas around Ormoc City on Leyte Island.

Soledad, 71-year-old survivor of Typhoon Haiyan. 71-year-old Soledad was happy to get a food pack, but stressed the need for more help. (c) HelpAge International With the help of young volunteers, our team has been getting aid to communities who had received no assistance until our arrival.

Our staff brought help to the indigenous mountain community of Mahawan in the municipality of Kananga. We delivered much needed food aid to this poor community whose fragile housing was particularly vulnerable to devastation.

This followed distributions in the Kadaohan area north of Ormoc city where, in addition to food packages, we provided other essential items such as towels and t-shirts.

Soledad, 71, received a food pack. She said: "Our house has lost most of the roof but we are still here. My husband is very ill, he had a stroke several months ago.

"Our children and grandchildren live next door but their house was also hit badly. Thank you so much for this food, but we need so much more. Please send more help."

Responding to older people's needs

With 11 million affected people, one of the biggest obstacles to delivering aid has been narrow roads strewn with heavy debris. People’s normal access to food has been severely curtailed – many rice storage buildings have been ruined, meaning people do not have reserves.

Each household we support receives 10kg of rice, canned foods, sugar, coffee and powdered milk to replace lost food stocks and ensure food availability. Other items distributed include blankets, mosquito nets, buckets/jerry cans, flashlights and first aid supplies.

Older people in dire need of shelter

Shelter is also a key priority so we have provided 100 tents to those most in need. Many people are living among the ruins of their destroyed homes. HelpAge has heard that some evacuation centres are no longer able to accommodate even vulnerable older people because of the damage they sustained.

HelpAge has found that local government distributions have been well organised, with older people not expected to wait in line in distribution queues. Either family members are allowed to collect the food or volunteers can deliver it to those living alone.

Only a small number of older people appear to have been abandoned or are unaccompanied, but many will need psycho-social counselling for the trauma they have been through. Another concern is that medicines for non-communicable diseases (which particularly affect older people) are running out.

As more older people are being evacuated from hard-hit areas such as Tacloban, HelpAge and COSE will be working with local groups to provide older volunteers to help and support the older people living in evacuation centres in Manila and Cebu.

Older people who have been affected by Haiyan will be connected through a support system set up by COSE's network of older people's associations on the ground. COSE has also been working with older people's associations and local partners in Negros Occidental, Bohol and Cebu provinces.

Donate now

In the UK

Our sister organisation, Age International, has launched an emergency appeal to support older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Or you can text URGENT to 70004 to donate £5 to help older people in the Philippines.

In the USA

Our sister organisation, HelpAge USA, has launched an emergency appeal to support older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.


If you live outside the UK and the USA you can donate to support older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan here.

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