Sphere advocates at work in the Philippines

28 November 2013 | Sphere Project

Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda caused massive destruction and loss of life when it hit the Philippines on 8 NovemberDevastation in the city of Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Photo: © Jason Gutierrez/IRIN

Efforts to support aid delivery according to humanitarian standards are under way in the Philippines, where Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda caused massive destruction and loss of life when it hit the country on 8 November.

According to news reports, Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 5,500 people, left more than 1,700 missing, displaced at least four million and caused major devastation to the country's infrastructure. About 90 per cent of the city of Tacloban, in the central Leyte province, was destroyed while many cities in other areas also suffered huge damages.

Humanitarian actors present in the country are working to improve the quality and accountability of the humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan.

The national Sphere focal point Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is working with agencies implementing cash transfer schemes and providing shelter and non-food items to make sure that Sphere standards are built into the design of their programmes. Humanitarian standards are also being used in needs assessments.

LWR is the convenor of the Alliance of Sphere Advocates in the Philippines (ASAP), which gathers 13 national and international humanitarian agencies. ASAP provides a coordination and support platform to help humanitarian actors improve the implementation of Sphere standards in their work. A number of ASAP members are involved in assisting the population affected by Haiyan.

The Sphere Project regional partner in Asia, Church World Service - Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS-P/A), has responded with an emergency deployment plan. Working in collaboration with LWR and ASAP, CWS-P/A is to deploy one of their staff and one consultant on a rotation basis over the next six months. Where possible, local staff trained in humanitarian standards will be involved.

The main goals of the deployment are to ensure that aid workers are aware of humanitarian standards and apply them during the emergency response, as well as to promote an advocacy platform, develop local capacity and ensure the mainstreaming of quality and accountability in agencies' programmes.

During the emergency response, CWS-P/A deployed staff will conduct one-day orientation sessions on Sphere standards, Sphere companion standards, the HAP Standard and People In Aid's Code of Good Practice. These sessions will focus on needs assessment, Sphere core standards, coordination and collaboration, the use of checklists available in the Sphere Handbook as well as complaints response mechanisms.

CWS-P/A is currently reprinting the Sphere Handbook and the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) Standard and will make sure that copies of both are available free of charge during the first three months of the response.

The CWS-P/A deployment plan includes medium- and long-term provisions, including in-country training of trainers and follow-up support activities. Finally, they foresee a quality and accountability forum or seminar to take stock after 12 months of implementation.

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