09 DEC 2013
Philippines Typhoon Disaster One month On
Oxfam’s Aid Effort Has Helped 250,000 People, But Serious Gaps Remain
One month on after Super Typhoon Haiyan – one of the worst storms ever to make landfall – ravaged the Philippines, millions have survived and the outbreak of disease has been averted thanks to a quick emergency response, which was made possible by generous international support and the solidarity of the local people, Oxfam said today.
Donors and members of the public from around the world gave generous support and pledged nearly US$400 million in aid within the first few weeks, and military assets were provided, which helped survivors overcome extreme logistical challenges, including damaged airports, seaports, roads and bridges. Haiyan’s impact caused some chaos initially, but since then, the United Nations and local, national and international organisations have been working well with the government to improve coordination and expand the aid effort.
Oxfam has now reached 250,000 people with aid. As part of its efforts, it has helped restore Tacloban’s water supply. Oxfam has been working in three of the worst-hit areas – Samar, Leyte and Cebu – making sure life-saving aid, including water and hygiene kits, gets through to the people who need it most. We aim to reach 500,000 people affected by the typhoon.
While the relief efforts have helped many people, Oxfam, in its assessment report published on 7 December, warns that major gaps remain, with millions of people especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas receiving little official aid. Nearly three million people are relying on some forms of food assistance and four million are homeless and in need of shelter. An Oxfam assessment in northwest Leyte found some communities had nothing to eat except the food aid which they had received and that less than 10 per cent of the people had proper emergency shelter. There are also risks to the safety of vulnerable groups such as women and children. The need to accelerate and expand the aid effort is indisputable.
Oxfam's Country Director in the Philippines, Justin Morgan, said: “Our main concern now is reaching rural communities that have not received anything like adequate assistance yet, and making sure communities are able to quickly rebuild their homes, infrastructure and livelihoods, in a way that will make them more resilient to future shocks.” In the longer term, Oxfam will be working to help fisher folk, farmers and small business people earn a living and rebuild their businesses.
Additionally, substantial longer-term support will be needed to prevent what is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines from sliding further into poverty. Such a situation would expose communities in the disaster-prone country to greater risks in future typhoons.
Voltaire Alferez, National Coordinator of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, one of Oxfam’s partners in the Philippines, said: “Typhoon Haiyan is the shape of things to come, with climate change set to increase the severity of typhoons in the region and projected sea level rises to compound the effects of deadly storm surges. The Philippines will need sustained support and programmes to prepare for more storms like this. Ultimately, it also needs action on reducing the threat of climate change.”
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.
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Christoper ‘Toper’ Cabalhiw (left), a local volunteer working with Oxfam as a Public Health Promoter, and Oxfam Public Health Assistant Allan A Nayga (right). Organising children at an Oxfam public health promotion activity aimed at encouraging children to understand why and how to wash their hands and use the latrines. (Jire Carreon/Oxfam)