Long road ahead for typhoon-hit Philippine businesses

Long road ahead for typhoon-hit Philippine businesses

TANAUAN, Philippines - A monster typhoon that laid waste to the central Philippines wiped out livelihoods as well as homes, leaving small traders and shopowners facing a long and perilous road back to solvency.

In the immediate aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan - one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall - future planning had to be sacrificed for the immediate task of survival in a world without food and water.

For trader Aleda Afable, the choice was to butcher the only remaining cow from a herd swept away in the typhoon-triggered storm surge, or keep the animal that represented the last shred of her investment.

In the end, the dire situation made the decision for her.

"This place probably won't be rebuilt in months, or even a year," she said, looking over what little is left of the coastal township of Tanauan on the island of Leyte.

"With relief supplies trickling in slowly, I was forced to butcher the cow," she sobbed, as two men cleaned the hide and tail - all that was left after sharing the meat with her neighbours who had eaten next to nothing for days.

"This disaster is a great equaliser. There is no more rich and poor, and those who have anything left must be able to share them," said the mother of two.

The United Nations said early assessments indicated that 5.1 million workers, in 36 provinces, had been affected by the loss of livelihoods.

Afable's family had been relatively well-off and their three-storey home was one of the few still standing in Tanauan after Super Typhoon Haiyan powered through on November 8.

The quiet township was once a bustling community featuring ancestral homes and churches.

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