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The Philippines' Geography Makes Aid Response Difficult

The Philippines' Geography Makes Aid Response Difficult | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

Typhoon Haiyan was enormous and hit a 400-mile swath on the Philippines.  The Philippines is a single country, but it is composed of over 7,000 islands; hundreds of islands are in need of relief aid, if not more.  The islands are in an archipelago which naturally fragments the land mass and isolates the residents making transportation, utilities and communications logistically difficult even in the best of times.  If the first few days after the typhoon, supply chains were cut off and many desperate people looted the sparse food resources available. The necessities to sustain life—food, water, shelter, medication and basic sanitation—are the all major concerns in the aftermath of the typhoon.      

While the police are saying that order is being restored, the effects of flooding pollute water resources and increase the spread of infectious diseases because of the poor sanitation.  The Philippines is gripping for an impending medical crisis from the spread of diseases in addition to the medical trauma that people suffered during the actual typhoon.  Richard Brennen of the World Health Organization (WHO) believes that these geographic difficulties make the relief efforts in the Philippines more difficult than the 2010 relief efforts to help Haiti after the massive earthquake.   

Tags: water, disasters, Philippines, medical, development, diffusion.

Kenny Dominguez's curator insight, November 30, 2013 10:59 PM

This is a devastating time for the people of the Philippines. All they have to worry about is staying alive and being close to there family members. Help is on the way. Everyone in the world should pitch in and try to help them in anyway they can. But what I would like to find out is why this has happen when it has not before in this country. This country I have not seen in the news before this big devastation had happened. I am also curious to find out how come the help aid is taking so long to arrive when people are dying because they have no food available for them because it has been destroyed or it is trapped under all the debris from all the buildings that have collapsed because they were not structured properly. this situation is a repeat of hurricane Katrina in the united states were all the house were not hurricane proof and were built in places known for disaster.

Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, April 19, 2014 10:37 PM

Due to the fact the Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, it makes aid response very difficult. When natural disasters such as typhoons occur in the Philippines it can negatively affect hundreds of islands, making it difficult to help the people on every island. It can takes days for supplies to arrive on some of the islands, and sometimes people do not even receive necessary supplies such as food and water. Countries, which are composed of numerous islands, face many challenges.  

Tracy Galvin's curator insight, May 3, 2014 7:09 PM

Fortunately, the Philippines has a relatively stable infrastructure so even though lots of areas were hit, the human fatalities and issues are not as bad as they could have been. Unfortunately, these are many islands and getting from one to the next is very difficult when all communications and landing areas are compromised.

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How Online Mapmakers Are Helping the Red Cross Save Lives in the Philippines

How Online Mapmakers Are Helping the Red Cross Save Lives in the Philippines | Geography Education |
Volunteers across the world are building the digital infrastructure for the organization's Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Seth Dixon's insight:

Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action?  Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency.  Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are hardest hit by natural disasters.  Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets.  Can you join in and help?

Tags: disasters, mappingPhilippines, STEM.

Tony Aguilar's curator insight, November 13, 2013 3:32 PM

online maps are being used to help locate the best way possible to help transport food and resources to those most in need. They van locate bridges and the world is pulling together with tehcnolgy and accurate maps to help the  American red Cross maximize in time and manpower. It seems that after Hurricane Katrina and the Earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, We have been improving our strategies for how to best help people around the globe come together put our time energy and resources together to best help people whose lives have been devasted and crushed by the forces of mother nature.


Tracy Galvin's curator insight, May 3, 2014 7:14 PM

Having a map of the current landscape, after the typhoon will speed up relief and rescue efforts by showing areas to land and set up help stations. The digital world is immediate now and this will change how organizations such as the Red Cross provide relief to suffering people.

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Floods cover more than half of Philippine capital

Floods cover more than half of Philippine capital | Geography Education |

"Flooding caused by some of the Philippines' heaviest rains on record submerged more than half the capital Tuesday, turning roads into rivers and trapping tens of thousands of people in homes and shelters. The government suspended all work except rescues and disaster response for a second day."

Seth Dixon's insight:

See what the Church of Geography says about the monsoons that caused this massive flooding and how the movement of the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) put the Philippines right in warms way.


Tags: physical, water, disasters, geomorphology, Philippines.

Louis Mazza's curator insight, March 26, 2015 1:24 PM

For the second day in a row, the Philippines government has been forced to shut down all work, except for rescuers and disaster responders. Flooding has submerged more than half of the cities capital, Manila. Roads have turned to rivers and tens of thousands of people are trapped in homes and shelters. 7 deaths have been recorded so far. The capital holds 12 million people and more than 200 hundred evacuation centers have been opened. The monsoon that caused the floods is expected to travel north and cause havoc throughout the provinces surrounding Manila.

Lora Tortolani's curator insight, April 20, 2015 11:03 PM

The area of Minila received more rainfall in day than it typically gets in a month.  Flights were delayed and cancelled, roads were turned into rivers.  Some of the thoughts of why this is happening are because of deforestation of mountains, clogged waterways and canals where large squatter communities live, and poor urban planning

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, November 28, 2015 6:44 AM

Flash flooding is probably the least understood natural disaster in the world. People often underestimate, how dangerous a flash flooding situation can become. The Philippines and South East Asia suffer from widespread monsoons. The regions fertile farmland is a result of the widespread heavy rainfall. A darker consequence of this phenomenon is the occurrence of dangerous flash flooding conditions. This particular rain in the Philippians was strong enough to submerge more than half of the capital underwater. The government in Manila has suspended all government operations that do not pertain to response and rescue missions. There will be major economic effects from this event. The loss of private property, and infrastructure such as roads will put a dent into the local economy.

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Philippines floods: the aftermath

Philippines floods: the aftermath | Geography Education |
The torrential rains that caused widespread flooding in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, have left the city reeling...


This is a grim, but captivating photo gallery showing how people adapt to environmental disasters.  Human settlements are vulnerable to disasters based on their environmental situations but people still display an amazingly capacity to be resilient in the face of danger.  "The torrential rains that caused widespread flooding in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, have left the city reeling. Thousands of people remain in evacuation shelters, and those who stayed in their homes during the deluge face a major clean-up operation." 

Josue Maroquin's comment, August 12, 2013 9:57 PM
its sad to see how the harsh climate in the Philippines affecting the people living there
Marissa Roy's curator insight, December 11, 2013 8:19 AM

Pictures truly are worth a thousand words. Seeing the disaster occur in someone home, or seeing how a locasl business has lost so much due to the disaster is powerful. It is one thing to read an article and it is another to see precious photos ruined by the disaster.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 4, 2014 9:57 PM

Flooding causes serious damage both emotionally and physically. People lose everything when floods happen. Their homes, cars and lives literally get lost in the water. Tragedy like this happens more often than we think. Being prepared for when something like this strikes is the key.

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Video: Fighting Poverty with Ingenuity

I absolutely love creative, out-of-the-box, innovative people! People who use their creativity to make a difference in the World.... Incredible! "We want to ...

Seth Dixon's insight:

Find out more about this organization at:

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, November 30, 2015 2:50 PM

This video shows ingenuity of a persons mind and plastic bottles. This is a use of something that seems to useless but plays a very large roll in daily life of the people. This plastic bottle filled with water and placed in thecut out of tin roofs created natural sunlight for the the people in the poorest communities. This cut power bills and it also created a safer living situation for the people. It shows the use for something so useless in our area of the community but so usefull to other areas of the world.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 12:12 PM

this is a great invention, however the use of these light bottles would be restricted to environments where water never freezes. however, in regions which are economically in trouble where it is generally warm, it can be a cheap source of light in a normally dark building.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 4:01 PM

people making the best of their situation and being inovative and creative is insperational and the rest of the world should follow suit

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Typhoon Haiyan Before & After

Typhoon Haiyan Before & After | Geography Education |
View interactive before and after images showing the devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused in Tacloban City, Philippines.
Seth Dixon's insight:

While the casualty counts may have been lowered, that does not lessen the devastation. 

Tracy Galvin's curator insight, May 3, 2014 7:01 PM

A great set of photos to show the great destructive force of a storm on coastlines. The Philippines are a bunch of small islands made up of primarily coastlines so this typhoon destroyed huge amounts of the country.

Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, December 8, 2014 1:16 PM

We know that natural disasters cause a lot of damage and personal loss but we don't really ever know how much damage is caused until we see it.  Even when we do see it if we don't know what it looked like before it really doesn't mean anything to us.  Using these before and after maps you can really understand how much destruction happened when the typhoon hit the Philippines.  You can see the loss of property, infrastructure and natural resources that were once there.  The loss of not only peoples homes, but entire neighborhoods wiped right off the map.  The remnants of roads can be seen but that is all they are, remnants.  The ability to see the before as well as the after really strikes a toll and makes people realize that this is serious and not just another storm for the people that live here.

Chris Costa's curator insight, November 9, 2015 2:51 PM

Such powerful imagery. I was tinkering around with the pictures and moving the scroller from right to left, keeping my eye on a particular house that stood before the typhoon. To keep scrolling to the left and to watch that image of the house completely disappear was absolutely surreal. It made the news of the devastation wrought by the storm seem so much more real; here I was, sitting in class and watching a home- a place where a family once lived, where lives had been and were continuing to be forged- completely disappear from the face of the map, never to return. I have lived in the same home for 15 years, and I could never imagine watching my home disappear in such a manner. The psychological impact of this devastation on such a massive scale is unimaginable, something that must be endured in order to truly understand- and, unfortunately for the people living in these areas, they now understand it all too well. The financial recovery from this storm will eventually come- perhaps not as fast as hoped, but it will, as always- but the recovery in human costs will take much longer. For those affected, many will believe that there can never be a recovery. Watching that home disappear in the blink of an eye makes me feel that they are probably right.

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'Absolute Bedlam' In The Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan

'Absolute Bedlam' In The Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan | Geography Education |

The news from the Philippines, where it's feared that last week’s powerful Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 10,000 people, isn’t getting better as hundreds of thousands of people struggle to survive and authorities struggle to get help to them.

"Its absolute bedlam right now," says Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross.  “There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction.”

According to the BBC, a huge international relief effort is underway, but rescue workers have struggled to reach some towns and villages cut off since the storm.

Tags: physical, environment, water, disasters, Philippines.

Rebecca Farrea's curator insight, November 14, 2013 8:50 AM

Even though the death toll resulting from Typhoon Haiyan is around 1,000, it is expected to reach 10,000.  International aid will hopefully help cities such as Tacloban City recover from this storm.

Jack Born's curator insight, November 14, 2013 9:16 PM

This is insane. It has affected millions of people and and even killed people. Its good that so many people are going to help though.

Tracy Galvin's curator insight, May 3, 2014 7:05 PM

With so many of the citizens living on the coast, a large typhoon like this completely destroys most of the country. When this much devastation happens all at one time it takes a very long time to recover.

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The 10 Stories You Missed in 2012

The 10 Stories You Missed in 2012 | Geography Education |
2012 has had many stories around the globe have grabbed the headlines with their shocking tales.  Some of the most important shifts in the world however are incremental processes that happen slowly...

This article from Foreign Policy shares some great global stories that may end up impacting the coming years as well:  

1) India and Pakistan start trading more

2) Brazil becomes an immigration destination

3) Inuits strike it rich

4) A tropical disease nearly eradicated

5) The copyright wars go 3-D

6) The end of the Indian call center (Philippines)

7) Hong Kong fights back

8) Moscow on the Med (Cyprus)

9) Oil discoveries in Central Africa

10) Island dispute between Iran and UAE

Kristen McDaniel's curator insight, January 4, 2013 9:57 AM

What was missed in the news?  Take a look at some of the stories from around the world!

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Philippines Overtakes India as Hub of Call Centers

Philippines Overtakes India as Hub of Call Centers | Geography Education |
Many companies have moved their customer service lines to Manila to take advantage of workers who speak lightly accented English and are familiar with American culture.


The geography of globalization is epitomized by relentless change and marked by continual turnover.  Cultural and economic factors play significant roles in creating potential advantages for receiving outsourced jobs (whether that is beneficially long-term is another discussion). 

Meagan Harpin's curator insight, October 10, 2013 8:27 PM

Companies have moved their customer service lines to Manila because there the workers speak a lightly accented English and are more familiar with American culture then they are over in India. This shows the maturation of the outsourcing buisness and shows the preference for American English.  

Cam E's curator insight, April 8, 2014 12:41 PM

The fact that so many Filipinos speak English is an important one to understand. This brings jobs to the Philippines, but at the expense of local culture. High income and social standing in the Philippines is often correlated with English, as many of the high-ranking citizens attend universities in the United States and return with degrees, and in turn teach their children English. This marginalizes their own language in a way, and is something to keep aware of, as it's one thing that the United States does not face in many areas, that most other countries around the world do.  


Kendra King's curator insight, April 13, 2015 9:16 PM

I was most shocked by how Americanized these individual were. I understand that the Philippines were under American control for a fair period of time, but the country obtained its sovereign independence of the US sometime in the mid-40s. They have had close to 80 years to develop their own history, yet the author mentioned the citizens were still watching shows like “Friends” and speaking American English better than other foreign English speakers. It just goes to show how a colony is permanently marked by their past. I am not entirely sure this is a good thing, but at least one positive that came out of the US’s impact is that in speaking more American English there are more call center jobs. As the article mentioned, the jobs helped their sluggish economy. Still, the only reason these jobs are being offered is due to the amount companies save. Not only do the companies avoid paying American workers, whose salary is much higher, the companies are also in an area with better infrastructure. So even though the article claims the companies paid more because the Philippine workers cost $50 more than those from India, they save money on overhead and have better satisfied customers! Looking at call centers from the company’s perspective shows that this former colony is just a pawn once again. Therefore, when we look at intent, globalization just becomes negative again.   

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BBC: Development-How bottles bring light to world's poorest

BBC: Development-How bottles bring light to world's poorest | Geography Education |
A simple initiative in the Philippines is bringing a bit of brightness into the lives of the country's poorest people.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This clip is brimming with classroom potential.  Development is a key component to this clip, but it could also become a service learning project as students adopt a great project to help others in more difficult financial situations.  Learn more about the project at:

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 11:31 PM

This is very innovative as people in the Philippines have found a way to light their homes with just a plastic bottle. Using bleach and water and a piece of metal, there is temporary light for many people who would otherwise live in darkness. Starting with just 1 bottle in 1 home, this homemade product's total is now 15,000 units. I was very impressed that something as simple as a bottle filled with water can cost just $1 to make and give off even more light than an average light-bulb. I predict that this mini invention will become even more widespread as more poor countries catch on to this new, resourceful idea. 

Bob Beaven's curator insight, April 26, 2015 3:45 PM

The solution to a problem in this video owes itself to geographical factors, had this been a problem in the US, the solution would have been different.  Having said this, the "American Way" to solve problems isn't always the best way to do so.  The Philippines is a collection of islands and they are ravaged by hurricanes, so to put above ground powerlines would be highly expensive, and to connect the whole nations infrastructure would require the nation running very expensive powerlines underneath the ocean.  What the man does in this video is ingenious given the location and the solution to the problem.  Since the Philippines are a warm country and the houses only have a single roof layer, by cutting a whole in the roof taping a coke bottle into the whole (filled with water and a bit of chlorine) allows a cheap and effective source of light.  By doing this, the people will not have to spend a great deal on electricity (if it is in their region) and if they do not have electricity then they still have a source of light. 

Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 9:26 PM

what a genius! of course as mentioned in class this works in the Philippines because of the tin roofs and the climate. You could not do this in cold places because the water would freeze. but this is just another sign that communities figure out ways to survive. What works in one place isn't always good for others but this sure works here.