22 OCT 2013
Oxfam dispatches aid experts to earthquake hit parts of the Philippines
Oxfam has dispatched a team of six experts on the ground to assess the water and sanitation conditions in Bohol, after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Philippines on October 15. Sagbayan Municipality and neighboring areas are the worst affected with the greatest number of people living without adequate quantities of safe water and sanitation facilities.
The earthquake has affected the Visayas and Mindanao islands of the Philippines, where the worst hit province is Bohol. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), as of the morning of October 19, the NDRRMC has put the number of casualties at 175. At least 1,846 aftershocks have been recorded. 20,034 families or 97,618 persons are staying in 85 evacuation centers across Bohol alone.
Severe damages to infrastructure have been reported, particularly on public infrastructure such as roads and bridges, seaports and airports, government offices, hospitals and medical centres, school buildings, public markets, etc. A total of 19,309 houses were damaged (partially and totally), according to the NDRRMC. Also heavily damaged were historic, centuries-old churches, considered as cultural heritage sites in the country and in the world.
Oxfam’s partner Rice Watch Action Network (R1) has reported that the municipality of Tubigon, in which it has work, is only partially accessible and has immediate needs for water, ready-to-eat food and other basic needs. Oxfam is going to Tubigon as well as to other coastal municipalities on the western side of the island such as Loon and Maribojoc which have been isolated after roads and bridges were damaged by the quake.
At the moment, there are issues around access to safe and clean water in Tubigon, Loon and Maribojoc. The water system is run by electricity and there are intermittent power outages. Apart from this, there is also the possibility of water being contaminated as pipes might have been damaged by the quake. This, however, needs further verification on the ground.
"We heard of cases of diarrhea, and if we are to prevent its spread and that of other water-borne diseases, affected areas will need guaranteed access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities," says Justin Morgan, Oxfam Country Director for the Philippines. Children below five years old are among those now suffering from diarrhea. Oxfam provided a several hundred bottles of water treatment solution to the Municipal Health Offices in Clarin and Sagbayan where cases of diarrhea have been reported.
In other areas where markets are still not fully operational, making food availability is a major challenge. Fishing, which is a main source of livelihood in the western side of the island, has been severely affected, as boats and fishing gears have also been destroyed by the earthquake.
The Oxfam team is composed of experts in water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, livelihoods in emergencies and humanitarian protection.
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local, national and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in 1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 94 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.