One year after the super typhoon hit Philippines – FCA has built 47 classrooms in the disaster areas

The school constructions eventually spread to 26 villages. Pictured are the first stages of construction work at Anuron school. Photo: Pasi Aaltonen

Saturday, 8th of November, marks the one-year anniversary of the historically powerful typhoon Haiyan hitting Philippines. Immediately after the disaster struck, Finn Church Aid distributed emergency relief to the region. Finns donated one million euros to the catastrophe fund. Now, one year later, FCA has built 47 classrooms in the affected region.

”The schools have been happy with how fast we have completed the constructions, even though by Finnish standards it seems to have taken a long time. We have received a lot of positive feedback on the design of the schools”, Merja Färm, a Team Leader of the school construction project in Philippines, says.

The school construction project will be completed on the anniversary of the typhoon Haiyan. Funding for the construction of new classrooms came straight from Finnish donors. The project, which lasted a little less than a year, cost approximately one million euros.

“A school building, which can be assembled quickly and easily, was designed in Philippines. Its framework is based on ready-made sheet metal parts, which can be easily bolted together to make durable walls. A company was found near Manila that could design schools that are both hurricane-proof and approved by the school officials. They can also produce the metal frames”, Pasi Aaltonen, a Coordinator and architect for school construction, says.

The classrooms built by FCA are designed to last for fifteen years. They will most likely last longer than that. The responsibility for their maintenance has now been given to the authorities of Philippines.

“The new classrooms give opportunity for hundreds of children from poor rural areas to attend school in appropriate and safe spaces”, Merja Färm says.

Portion of the construction work was done with Cash for Work –Programme, which brought income to in-need people. A majority of the workers were parents of the school children of the area.

Haiyan left four million people homeless, killed over six thousand and destroyed practically everything on its path through the middle of the country.

Commemoration ceremony in Tacloban city on Saturday

This weekend, there will be a commemoration ceremony for those who perished in the typhoon. Despite the successes, a part of Filipinos are dissatisfied with the slowness of reconstruction work.

John Nduna, the Secretary General of churches’ catastrophe fund ACT Alliance, will give a speech in Tacloban on Saturday, as a representative of all the humanitarian aid organisations that took part in the aid operation. A monument to honour the victims of Haiyan will be revealed at the same time.

Climate Walk, a demonstration on the effects of climate change, left Manila 40 days earlier, being led by Yeb Sanon, Climate commissioner of Philippines. The walk will reach its destination Tacloban on Saturday. Thousands of candles will be set into the ocean in the evening.

Finn Church Aid’s employees Merja Färm and Ulla Kärki will be attending the event in Philippines.

Churches’ catastrophe fund ACT Alliance’s collective work efforts have reached over one million people in Philippines. Finn Church Aid is a member of Act Alliance, a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organisations. ACT Alliance operates in over 140 countries.

For additional information:

In Philippines:
Merja Färm, Team Leader for school construction project, tel. +63 9499136501, or +63 9176208547
Ulla Kärki, Communications Officer, tel. +358 50 576 7948, or +63 9178836939, or +63 998 557 6569

In Finland:
Eija Alajarva, Director of Humanitarian Assistance Unit, tel. + 358 40 582 1183
Pasi Aaltonen, Coordinator for School Construction, tel. + 358 40 6482 499