Haiyan Relief - Radio and SMS Information Services

by Internews
Radyo Bakdaw - on the air!
Radyo Bakdaw - on the air!

In November of 2013, after Typhoon Haiyan hit, Guiuan and the other municipalities in Eastern Samar experienced a complete information black out, with no phone network, TV, newspapers or radio being available. Radyo Bakdaw was the only radio station on the FM-band and the only media-house permanently based in the region.

Since then, Internews has been able to achieve so much, all because of your support. Donors like you made it possible to respond to the immediate needs of the population – including getting urgent news and information to those in search of food, water, shelter, safety, and loved ones. Later, your donations helped us to rebuild and recover, well after the Typhoon had disappeared from the headlines.


On November 26 Internews launched Radio Bakdaw (“Rise”) in Guiuan (92.9FM) broadcasting live and pre-recorded content 14 hours a day. The signal reached all of the municipalities in the most affected area and the coastal area up to Marabut, 85 kms own the road towards Tacloban.

Radio Bakdaw was run by local radio makers with a focus on ‘News-You- Can-Use’ for the people of Eastern Samar. The station broadcasted liveinterviews with government and aid officials, but also with local people who expressed their needs and shared their expertise on the recovery. It distributed messages and  announcements from aid organisations, produced news packages and quality humanitarian content on shelter, health and livelihood. To nurture the relationship with its listeners, it played songs requests that came via SMS into the station.

Equally important was the feedback Radyo Bakdaw received from the community, with over a 1000 texts a day at the height of the emergency, all of which was documented, processed and fed back into the humanitarian system to improve the quality of the service delivery.

 At the same time the radio station also functioned as an information center for the community, with people coming inside to ask the latest information about jobs, relief distribution or the weather. Internews also continuously conducted research in the region to measure impact and gauge the information needs among people in the region.


  • 1,255 hours of radio programmes were produced and broadcast every day from 6AM till 9PM, including during the two first major storms of 2014: Agathon and Basyang.
  • More than 140 organisations and government departments were able to provide information to communities through Radyo Bakdaw.
  • More than 272 people were interviewed both in the station and out in their communities.
  • 40,286 text messages were received from listeners through Radyo Bakdaw hotline.
  • 44 cases of family reunification were broadcast, of which at least 4 were solved as a direct result of the announcement on Radyo Bakdaw.
  • 249 radios were fixed by Radyo Bakdaw technicians during the weekly Radyo Repair Days.
  • 5 weekly thematic programmes were produced on livelihoods, health, shelter, mental health and youth.
  • Every week Radyo Bakdaw organised a karaoke contest effectively functioning as a psycho-social relief activity.


Internews developed the capacity and technical skill set of local broadcasters and helped them

to become “humanitarian reporters”. About 20 local enthusiasts from various backgrounds were invited to workshops and provided with on-the-job training on the production of useful information in attractive formats for listeners, with a strong sense of journalism ethics, including the importance of reliable, unbiased information.

 Besides radio training, the team also received extensive training in print-journalism to allow for a more diverse output online and in local print media. In parralell, Internews also organised training for local journalists from the emergency radio stations in Tacloban, the local commercial radio station in Guiuan, the Philippine Information Service, local government and university students.

 What’s next

 All of these activities are made possible because of your support. As we wind down our project, we are proud of the work we have been able to accomplish, and at the same time, realize that there will be many more challenges ahead. Recently, our team from Radyo Bakdaw participated in a Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities review where they were able to share their successes and challenges – and from ground zero, in Tacloban. The attached photo depicts some of the suggestions that were made by the journalists who were reporting on the ground, including those from Radyo Bakdaw.

 We know that the Philippines will continue to face new threats and challenges, particularly as the rainy season begins. We are grateful that with your help, we were able to train and prepare media professionals and communities members to be their own first responders, building more resilient communities across the country.

 Thank you again for your support!

Radyo Bakdaw responds to CDAC review
Radyo Bakdaw responds to CDAC review


Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, Internews has been working to get humanitarian information to the victims via radio broadcasts. We thank you for your support – because of you, Radio Bakdaw in Guiuan is able to focus on useful, actionable “News-You-Can-Use” including information messages on water sanitation and hygiene and which shops are open, as well as announcing work opportunities from humanitarian agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and ACTED.

Internews also works with local journalists in the Philippines, who are posting news and information on environmental issues and communicating with disaster-affected communities using an innovative new SMS-based reporting platform called EnviroNews. The platform was launched by the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN).

Here’s an update from the field on how your dollars are being put to work:

Fishermen Guillermo and Sosimo are live on Radyo Bakdaw’s Livelihoods program reporting to Cristina, their financial advisor, that they have beaten the savings target she set for them last week. Cristina is taking them through a process of learning how to budget, save and make investment decisions as part of an effort to help residents of Guiuan in the Philippines get back on their feet.

 The hope is that Guillermo and Sosimo will serve as role models for listeners.

 Radyo Bakdaw was established by Internews in the Guiuan municipality in the Philippines to broadcast humanitarian information after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated the area.

 “This programming is shaped – very much – by the current needs of the community,” says John Tuckey, Internews Humanitarian Journalism Trainer. “With Yolanda three months ago, and with basic services – though not electricity – back in place, the market in Guiuan stocked and functioning again, shops reopening every day, the focus is on rebuilding.”

 Livelihoods is broadcast for two hours every weekday, part of the 17 hours of specialist humanitarian programming per week. Many people in Guiuan rely on two principle areas of livelihood – fishing and coconut farming, both of which were devastated by the typhoon. The program offers information and advice on rebuilding past livelihoods and on starting new livelihoods.

 Other Radyo Bakdaw programming includes maintaining health and psycho-social support, but its main focus in on rebuilding. A program called Home focuses on shelter – it includes a weekly step-by-step guide for householders, so that they can Build Back Better, that is, make their homes much more resistant to typhoons. Roger, a householder who is rebuilding his badly-damaged house, and Nilo, an International Organization for Migration engineer, discuss on air what Roger has done, and what his next step needs to be. 

 The Radyo Bakdaw team, which previously did not have experience with this type of programming, was able to get the programs on the air after only two weeks training and two weeks of on-air support from Tuckey.

 “I have worked in humanitarian broadcasting since the Kosovo crisis in 1999, and I have never been involved with such a hard-working team,” says Tuckey.  “The producers – who, before January, didn't know what the term meant – have taken to the job with energy and enthusiasm.”

 Thank you once again for your support!


This story comes to Internews via Carl, a college journalism student in Tacloban, the Philippines, where Internews has launched Radio Bakdaw in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Hearing stories like this one…when news and information has the power to connect people and communities and solve problems--both big and small, is so powerful. I can’t express enough how grateful we are to donors like you who understand the important role information plays, particularly to those who are facing hardship in the aftermath of a disaster.


Published January 15, 2013

Moving around had become quite a challenge for Loring since the typhoon had wrecked her wheelchair. Before, she was working as a mobile phone reloader, but the loss of her wheelchair had kept her bedridden.

When she heard about the free services offered by Radyo Bakdaw (“Rise”) through her neighbor’s radio, Loring sent a text message to the station.

After the radio station aired her story, a kind-hearted listener named Sonny decided to contact the radio station.

“I heard someone was in need of a wheelchair and so I remembered my mother who passed away months ago. I stored the wheelchair at the back of our house and just kept it there. It was really in good condition but damaged a little bit because of Yolanda (Haiyan). I heard it on the radio and you know, I really wanted to help,” said Sonny.

On December 19, 2013 the wheelchair was handed over to Loring.

“It was clear she was very happy because she could go back to work and her nanny will be freed from carrying her around the house,” said Rica, who delivered the wheelchair.

Having heard of Loring's story, four more people sent their requests to Radyo Bakdaw also pleading for new wheelchairs. The contact details were forwarded by the radio staff to Handicap International, an NGO based in Tacloban, who promised to follow up on it. 


This moving story is just one illustration of the power radio has had since Typhoon Haiyan touched down last November.

As you may well know, many towns and cities in Eastern Samar experienced a complete information black out, without functioning phone lines, TV, newspapers or radio. Currently Radyo Bakdaw is the only radio station on the FM-band and the only media-house permanently based in the region.   Today, Radyo Bakdaw receives around 300-500 text messages a day (with peaks of over 1200 texts). Some texts are practical questions about ongoing relief operations in the region, some ventilate frustration and others again show appreciation or a request to play a favorite song.  

Based on these questions from listeners, Radyo Bakdaw looks for much needed answers and useful information among the international agencies and local government, collected and presented by local presenters who, with support from Internews, have transformed themselves into “humanitarian reporters”(UNOCHA)


Drawing of the Radio Bakdaw team, Niko, Age 12
Drawing of the Radio Bakdaw team, Niko, Age 12
UNOCHA Interview on Radio Bakdaw
UNOCHA Interview on Radio Bakdaw

Thank you so much for your support of Internews and EnviroNews’ work to restore information access in the Philippines. As the holiday spirit is among us, we wanted to take this moment to thank you for the many gifts you have given to those affected by the typhoon, including the gift of information – which is “like a light…taking people out of the dark.”

Bill Germinal of Radio Bakdaw in the Philippines interviewed John Ging, Director of Operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), on December 15, 2013 about the humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan.

Speaking about the information that Radio Bakdaw provides, Ging said, “You’re turning on a light. Information is like a light. It’s taking people out of the dark.”

Watch an excerpt from the interview:

Ging also noted the strong community response to the station, which receives more than 300 text messages a day from listeners. “It means people are trusting you; they’re appreciating what you’re doing, and it’s real.”

Ging stressed the desire of UNOCHA to communicate with the community in Guian, as the agency provides aid. “We are here to help. If you come to help somebody, the first thing you have to do is listen.”

Working with local journalists, Internews established Radio Bakdaw on November 26, 2013 to serve the close to 50,000 people in Guiuan in Eastern Samar, Philippines – a population deeply affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Thank you for illuminating the issues that matter most to those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress.


Credit: Rhaydz Barcia
Credit: Rhaydz Barcia

Thank you again for your support of this project. Please donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund and help us get news and information to Filipinos who desperately need it. 

Below is an update directly from the feild. Please share this update with your friends and family and ask them to support this critical and time-sensitive campaign. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available. 


With electricity, media, and mobile networks knocked out in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan, information is scarce for aid agencies and those in desperate need of aid – making it difficult to understand the full scale of needs.

Internews’ Rapid Response Unit has deployed a Humanitarian Media team to the Philippines. The team is conducting a fast assessment of the media and communications environment to see what can be done to help restore capacity in the media sector and support information flows to people affected by the disaster. 

Reports from the Internews team on the ground, gathered from local networks, indicate that most local media infrastructure in the affected areas has been completely wiped out. Our contacts talk of mobile phones and broadcast equipment at radio stations being "taken away by the sea." Early reports from UN colleagues tell us that at least four local journalists from major networks are dead, including one who drowned even as he was reporting from the second floor of a building in Tacloban.

To stay up to date with Internews staff and issues of information in this crisis, follow the twitter hashtag #commisaid.

 EnviroNews.ph is working hard to keep up their FrontlineSMS platform which integrates short messaging service (SMS) reporting from journalists in the country, to get news and information out about the disaster quickly. Imelda Abano, an EnviroNews.ph journalist, is currently the only Filipino journalist at the UN climate negotiations (COP 19) in Warsaw. This is an equally important measure to ensure longterm, sustainable solutions to climate change, as scientists have warned that extreme weather events will only increase in intensity and frequency if climate change is left unchecked. Many Filipinos have never heard of "climate change" before, and without reliable, accurate, and localized information about it, near-term and long-term adaptation remains challenging.

Background: Philippine Media Landscape

infoasaid, a past partnership between Internews and BBC Media Action, developed a media landscape guide to the Philippines that provides context for the affected area:

  • The Philippines’ media is rowdy, vibrant, diverse and hugely profitable. There are nearly 1,000 radio stations across the country, broadcasting on FM and Medium Wave, according to Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasterng Pilipinas (KBP) - the Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines. The KBP also lists more than 200 television stations.
  • There are 28 daily newspapers published in Manila. Dozens more daily and weekly newspapers are published in provincial cities.
  • Media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few large privately owned groups. Their radio and TV stations and their newspapers command the highest audiences nationwide.
  • Most independent provincial broadcasters are affiliated to one of the big national radio and TV networks and relay large segments of their programming. The state media is a minor player, partly because it is banned from supplementing its budget with advertising.
  • The largest chain of radio stations, Radyo Natin, consists of more than local 100 FM stations. It forms part of the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) the largest radio group in this nation of more than 7,000 islands.
  • Filipinos send and receive more text messages than any other nation in the world except the USA – about 400 messages per person per month in 2011.

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Organization Information


Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.internews.org
Project Leader:
Amanda Frankel
Washington, D.C. United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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