Experience saves fisherman from wrath of Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan left a massive swath of destruction in many coastal communities in central Philippines.
 
By Andy McElroy

The 2014 International Day for Disaster Reduction this 13 October carries the theme ‘Resilience is for Life’. Unfortunately the knowledge and skill of older people are often ignored despite such wisdom and expertise being invaluable to reduce disaster risk. Help Age International is UNISDR’s main partner for International Day. This week we feature a series of articles profiling impressive older people from around the world who are living examples that Resilience is indeed for Life.

6 September 2014 - Seventy-year-old Ely combines resilience and vulnerability in the face of disaster that is typical of older people around the world.

He remembers well the howling wind of Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) in November 2013. It was, after all, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.

However, the experience of several typhoons in the past had taught him some key survival skills and the importance of not panicking.

“I was having difficulty breathing, but endured the wind and rain as the typhoon pummelled my house. When I could no longer stand it and the walls of my house had caved in, I crawled out to the nearby market,” Ely said.

“I eventually managed to join other people from the village; we were all wet and freezing. After the typhoon, it was hard because I had nothing to eat and everything was very expensive."

Despite his fortitude Ely’s health is poor after several bouts of illness. The former coordinator for the local fishing association in Old Sagay Village, Negros Occidental, also struggles to pay for food and medicine after having sold his boat to pay previous hospital bills.

The Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) recognized this and gave Ely a USD45 cash transfer that enabled him to buy medicine and food and start to recover after such an extreme disaster.

People aged over 60 constitute 11 percent of the global population. By 2050 this proportion would have doubled. In many cases – just like Ely – they combine both resilience and vulnerability to disasters.

To mark the 2014 International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October, people from around the world are participating in a survey of older persons and disasters. A special component is also included to receive the views of disaster risk planners and government officials

Have Your Say!

If you are an older person or government representative, take our survey and share your thoughts on living with disasters. The survey is available here.

This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction is the final pillar of the ‘Step-Up’ campaign, which advocated for inclusive disaster risk reduction for Children and Young People (2011), Women and Girls (2012), and Persons Living with Disability (2013).
VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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