Of timelines and timeliness: lessons from Typhoon Haiyan in early disaster response

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Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013 with maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometres per hour, adversely affecting at least 11 million people and displacing some 673,000 in the central regions of the country. The disaster clearly overwhelmed the Philippine government despite its seemingly well‐crafted disaster management plan. Using timelines of different organisations, this paper identifies gaps in the government's response, mainly due to its failure in coordinating and managing relief operations, which adversely affected its effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of critical goods and services following the disaster. The paper also demonstrates how non‐governmental organisations (NGOs), the United Nations, foreign governments and other organisations provided assistance, mainly through aid niching, to cover the government's shortcomings. The paper recommends a paradigm shift in the government's disaster response by integrating collaborative arrangements between government agencies and NGOs, and giving local governments the lead role, with the national government as support, in disaster planning and response.