The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons (also known as cyclones or hurricanes). But when Typhoon Yolanda hit, the scale of damage was far greater than anyone had anticipated. In response to a request from a local Filipino partner organisation, Operation Mercy’s DP&R team sent three experienced relief workers to increase the partner’s capacity to respond.
In the first wave of response, the team provided surge capacity and technical guidance to local responders who were involved with food and non-food item distribution. They helped the team coordinate with the large number of international and national responders, and guided them in accessing shared resources such as flights to affected areas.
In a subsequent response, the DP&R training team spent several days conducted a Relief Training Course for the local organisation and several additional community groups. These groups covered a range of affected locations, including one which had suffered not only from a typhoon but also from an earlier earthquake. Training focused not just on technical skills but also on laying a foundation based on the local responders’ knowledge of their own communities. Completing the approach, the third response involved training some of those who had attended the initial training to become trainers themselves. This Training of Trainers initiative allowed local responders to contextualise the lessons of the Relief Course into their own culture. Operation Mercy’s trainers accompanied the newly-trained community members to badly-hit areas of the Philippines, where the training was passed on to a much wider network of community groups. Participants expressed strong appreciation for being taught relevant skills and principles by their own countrymen and women.
The goal of the overall response was to increase the capacity of local community responders, firstly by standing with them in surge capacity at their time of greatest need, and then subsequently by empowering them to be trainers within their own communities, with an emphasis on disaster prevention in order to reduce the impact of subsequent typhoons.