Oxfam and its humanitarian partners in the Philippines, the Humanitarian Response Consortium, or HRC, have begun an emergency response targeting communities hardest-hit by Typhoon Bopha (known locally as Pablo) on the southern island of Mindanao.
Key priorities including getting clean, safe drinking water to disaster-hit areas, establishing basic sanitation facilities and providing cash and starting cash-for-work projects to help families buy food, clothing and other shelter needs.
Water treatment supplies and hygiene kits are being sent to the worst-hit areas in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces, where around 505,000 people have been severely affected.
The seven-month emergency response targets 12,000 families. It is the biggest rural response to a natural disaster that the agencies have ever mounted in the Philippines.
“The needs are enormous. This impact of this disaster will take a very long time to recover from” said Paul del Rosario, Oxfam’s humanitarian program co-ordinator.
“In the short term, we need to get people urgent help – basic shelter and access to safe water and food. In the medium to longer term, we need to support families with livelihoods. Farming communities have been the worst hit and it could take many years for them to fully recover.”
Oxfam teams are in place
The Humanitarian Response Consortium, supported by Oxfam, will initially target the devastated towns of New Bataan, Compostela and Laak, in Compostela Valley province; Baganga (where the typhoon first made landfall), Cateel and Boston in Davao Oriental province and Lingig in Surigao del Sur province after carrying out rapid technical assessments.
“Our emergency teams are in place and we have sent water treatment supplies, water and hygiene kits and emergency shelter supplies to the affected areas”, said Kevin R Lee, HRC lead and executive director of A Single Drop for Safe Water. “There have been some logistical challenges with roads, bridges and communication lines affected but items are getting to where they’re most urgently needed.”
The teams are also looking at repairing and rehabilitating damaged water systems and setting up waste disposal systems.
According to the latest figures (10 December 0500) from the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), 647 people died during the typhoon, with 780 people still reported as missing. More than 302,000 people are still staying in temporary evacuation centers.
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Notes to editors
The Humanitarian Response Consortium, supported by Oxfam, is made up of A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW); the Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc.(KFI) ; People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) and Rural Development Institute of Sultan Kudarat (RDISK)
High resolution photos and video footage available.
Quotes from typhoon-affected communities:
Laak Municipality Mayor Reynaldo B Navarro:
"Food will be the most important challenge. We also need support with drinking water + blankets. Children are sleeping out on the open ground. Over the next few weeks we'll need more medicines. I'm afraid there will be an outbreak of disease, an increase in things like diarrhoea and stomach problems
"Although this area has been affected by conflict … this is the worst disaster to affect us. People will die slowly because all the crops were destroyed. People have no livelihoods and no employment”
Fatima Espinosa, 36, mother of nine, Kadiwa village, Laak municipality, eastern Mindanao:
Lost home, belongings, crops
“Everything that we worked to build up has been destroyed. If the village captain hadn’t gathered everyone together during the typhoon, we probably wouldn’t be here right now. Our homes have almost all been destroyed or washed away, except for a very few. When you see the people in the community now, especially the younger children, its really difficult.”
Richard Carado, 39, farmer and father of six
He has two hectares of land, planting bananas and coconuts.
“We will have to work very hard to try to recover from what’s happened. It will take two years to probably recover…it took that time for all my crops to grow. It will take two years to get back to how things were.”
Gary Pido, farmer and father of six
He farms 0.6 hectares of land, growing coconuts, bananas and rubber.
“I have lived here for the last 44 years. We’ve never experienced a typhoon. In the past, we sometimes received notices that a typhoon was coming. But when they came, they never affected this area before. We have seen the worst effects of the typhoon only on television. I never thought this would happen to us. But with this typhoon we experienced first hand the damage and destruction that a typhoon can bring.”
Jed Alegado, Oxfam media and communication +639285042911; +639225409474
Caroline Gluck, Oxfam humanitarian press officer in Mindanao +63 9999669441; or +44 7867 976041 email@example.com