Manila is also the place where newcomers - from Australian fire fighters to Danish nurses - make contact with those who come back from the field, tired and happy to go home. For us, this is an opportunity to experience the transition from early to late response and recovery.
Manila itself is a vibrant city, crowded, traffic is dense, and apart from the omni-presence of aid teams, the city hardly touched by Haiyan: Christmas Trees glitter, and we listen to "Rudolphe the Rednosed Reindeer" over breakfast...
This post will report about just one interview, as we are about to leave from Cebu to Manila. We will try to add more as we go.
IM for the Shelter Cluster (IFRC/Canadian Red Cross)
Neil has worked in the Philippines since the Bohol earthquake. He is the first referring to Haiyan as the information management disaster. The sheer scope and magnitude of Haiyan has led to an enormous response effort - reflected by thousands and thousands of maps, situation reports, relief projects, Wikis and websites. Haiyan is the first natural hazard declared L3 since Haiti, organisational interests, funds and efforts are according.
UN-OCHA has implemented its cluster approach to facilitate work in different activities, distribute tasks, and coordinate acitivites and information.
The shelter cluster was one of the most important in this natural disaster. As of december 16 2013, there are still more than 1.1 million affected houses, and the rainy season will start at the end of January in some affected areas, meaning that short- and medium-term shelter solutions must be found beforehand.
As an information manager, it was Neils role to act as coordinator (managing relations with cluster partners and agencies working in shelter) - from very technical issues such as engineering to how to address the needs of the population given the context of the Philippines.
This very first interview gave us important leads for all the others to come: information overload and the trade-off between real-time operational decision-making vs. strategic decisions that need to be well aligned with the other actors, agencies and bureacracies were frequently among the most important issues.