Typhoon Phanfone: lights, lives, and livelihoods blown out for Christmas

Pinabacdao, Samar, Philippines 26 December 2019: Typhoon Phanfone has left devastation in its wake. Photo credit: Jhie Durana/Oxfam

Pinabacdao, Samar, Philippines 26 December 2019: Typhoon Phanfone has left devastation in its wake. Photo credit: Jhie Durana/Oxfam

From Christmas Eve to Christmas Day Typhoon Phanfone hit the Philippines seven times. It is the 21st Typhoon to wreak havoc in the Philippines this year and many of the affected communities were still struggling to get back on their feet in the wake of Typhoon Kammuri which hit earlier in the same month. 

Ursula carved the same path as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Although weaker, its devastating impacts are widely felt, especially here in Leyte, where houses have been damaged and electric posts toppled. We spent Christmas Day in total darkness.

Leah Payud, working for Oxfam in Leyte, Philippines

Lives and livelihoods destroyed

Initial reports say that almost 200,000 people have been affected, mostly in coastal areas where communities already have limited access to resources and basic services. The storm has triggered heavy flooding, destroyed housing and infrastructure, knocked out power lines and mobile service, and left large numbers of people without access to clean water. For the many who rely on farming and fishing for their livelihoods, the typhoon has been particularly devastating with boats and equipment destroyed. 

So far, 28 deaths and 12 missing people have been reported. A State of Calamity has been declared in at least four provinces: Leyte, Capiz, Aklan and Occidental Mindoro; and the municipalities of Medellin and Daanbantayan in Cebu.

Water, food, shelter

Oxfam and its partners are on the ground assessing both immediate needs and potential problems for the longer term. Early indications are that many coastal villages are in urgent need of emergency shelter, bedding, drinkable water, and food. Damage to power lines, schools, housing, and other infrastructure loom as serious problems for disaster recovery.

We have been working with local partners to provide immediate cash assistance to three coastal villages badly affected by the typhoon, and continue to monitor the situation to determine the most essential needs.

Oxfam in the Philippines

In the Philippines, 17 million people live below the poverty line. It is also one of the most highly at-risk countries from disasters, with pockets of fragility that threaten its stability and development. Oxfam has been working in the Philippines for 30 years to address the underlying causes of poverty through programs on economic justice, conflict transformation, gender justice, and rights in crisis.

Help Oxfam respond in times of crisis by donating to our Global Emergency Fund.