On November 8, the typhoon known as “Haiyan” or “Yolanda” made landfall in the Philippines causing unimaginable destruction and loss of life.  As of November 20, an estimated ten million people in the Philippines have been affected and the death toll has risen to over 4,000. These numbers are predicted to climb. The international response—humanitarian assistance in the form of search and rescue operations, the provision of relief supplies, and logistical support—is well under way. The United States government has pledged $37 million in aid. President Obama announced on November 14:

As I told President Aquino earlier this week, the United States will continue to offer whatever assistance we can. Our military personnel and USAID team do this better than anybody in the world. And they’ve been already on the ground working tirelessly to deliver food, water, medicine, shelter and to help with airlift.”

esidents from Tacloban, one the hardest hit cities, wait in line for transportation aboard Philippine and U.S. military cargo flights to other cities such as Manlia and Cebu.USAID/Carol Han, OFDA

Residents from Tacloban, one the hardest hit cities, wait in line for transportation aboard Philippine and U.S. military cargo flights to Manlia or Cebu. November 16, 2013.
(USAID/Carol Han, OFDA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda has prompted discussions on natural disasters and international relief efforts in your classroom, Choices’ updated unit Dilemmas of Foreign Aid: Debating U.S. Policies (Fifth edition, October 2013) is one way to expand upon the questions and concerns raised by students. In the unit, students explore the history of U.S. foreign assistance and the institutions that distribute aid today. Readings, case studies, and primary sources prepare students to consider the trade-offs of foreign aid and articulate their own views on the future direction of U.S. policy. A large section of Dilemmas of Foreign Aid focuses on humanitarian assistance and raises questions that can be applied to the recent disaster in the Philippines. The unit is available in multiple formats (e.g. print, eText, iBooks Textbook) and meets Common Core standards. 

Additional Resources

  • For information on U.S. humanitarian assistance in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, visit USAID. The website features a useful factsheet with information on key developments, statistics on the millions of people affected by the typhoon, and a breakdown of U.S. assistance.
  • The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council—part of the government of the Philippines—publishes daily reports (often multiple times a day) with information on causalities, damaged houses, the ongoing emergency response, and international aid.  Note: If you share the reports with students, be advised that the section “Effects of Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan)—Causalities” includes names of the dead and lists the cause of death. You might choose to remove these pages before distributing the reports to students.