Sanitation and water key in Philippines flooding response

Manila, Philippines — International aid agency Oxfam today urged the Philippine government to look at environmental sanitation and safe water as the two key needs of women, men and children affected by Typhoon Ketsana.  Visiting the affected areas of Bulacan and Rizal, which are located in the country’s capital region, Oxfam found that if these issues are not addressed, this would lead to another catastrophe.

“While food items are welcome, environmental sanitation is equally as important because it nips other problems in the bud. We have seen in the past that ensuring sanitation in the evacuation camps lessens the burdens of displaced families. Urban poor families who have no land and are completely dependent on daily wages face more difficulty in coping with disasters like this,” Oxfam spokesperson Arif Jabbar Khan said.

In its field visits, Oxfam found that evacuees urgently need clean shelters, medical attention, water facilities, hygiene kits, blankets and clothing to prevent disease outbreaks. Oxfam found that there is also a dearth of evacuation centers.

Oxfam is committed to helping 25,000 families in Bulacan, Rizal and parts of Metro Manila. In the next two days, Oxfam will provide water and non-food items like blankets, soaps, cleaning equipment, clothes and water containers to over 4,000 families in Bulacan and Pasig, in Metro Manila. Oxfam is also providing small cash grants and shelter to evacuation sites in Bulacan, as part of its initial response.

Oxfam is an international campaign, development and humanitarian organization that works with others to end poverty and human suffering. In the Philippines, together with its partners, Oxfam works with poor people to sustain their livelihoods, reduce the risks of natural and human-made disasters such as armed conflict, and uphold the rights of civilians caught in crises. Oxfam strives to enable poor people to have a voice in economic issues affecting them and supports poor women as they exercise leadership in transforming unequal relations. In 2009, Oxfam joins the international community in calling for rich countries to sign a fair and safe deal on climate change in Copenhagen, in December.

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