Typhoon Haiyan | needs remain huge

Typhoon Haiyan: Three months on, huge needs remain

Today, some 14 million citizens still require urgent emergency assistance. 

By Christine Kahmann

Feb 22 2014

Over three months have passed since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Central Philippines, destroying everything in its path. Many elements of basic infrastructure, like access to clean water and sanitation services, have been destroyed—as has the population’s ability to meet a majority of their basic needs.
 
As Chiara Saccardi, our Emergency Coordinator in the country, said: "Right now we’re finishing the last of our emergency distributions—mainly food and hygiene kits—and we’re working on restoring essential services to stimulate the markets and promote livelihoods. We’re also providing nutritional and psychosocial support, and giving access to water and sanitation in evacuation centres and in private shelters. Different areas have been hit differently, so it’s important for us to identify and meet the specific needs of each population."

A country constantly at risk

The Philippines is battered by between 15 and 25 major weather events each year, with both the recurrence and intensity on the rise. After Haiyan, Tropical Depression Agaton destroyed the few remaining crops, increasing food insecurity among farmers and those who rely on them. "After Agaton we feared the worst last month with Tropical Storm Baysang, but it only caused a small amount of damage,” Chiara explained. “It reinforced the importance of our work on disaster preparedness. People knew how to act and when to evacuate.”
 
An earthquake that struck the island of Leyte on January 26th also caused no significant damage or casualties, but also stressed the need for disaster risk reduction efforts to strengthen the country’s preparedness levels for possible floods and landslides. Our approach continues to focus on helping people and institutions be better prepared for a high-magnitude disaster, and be able to take measures to reduce its impact.

Planning Ahead

While we’re proud that we were able to send 12 planes full of relief supplies to the Philippines and start distributing them within four days of Haiyan, it’s critical to remember that the aid we provide wasn’t just to save lives and help people cope for a few weeks—the more than 14 million people still suffering in the country will need our support to rebuild their homes and recover their livelihoods. We’re in it for the long haul. “We’re strengthening our coordination with other humanitarian agencies, as well as with government and civil institutions,” Chiara explained. We’ll be heavily involved in rehabilitation in the days, weeks, months—and yes, the years—ahead.

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Photo credits:  © ACF Philippines