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Blogs, Emergencies article written on the 17 Nov 2013

As routes into areas hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan begin to really open up, Oxfam is quickly increasing its presence in areas with a further distribution in the Daanbantayan area north of Cebu island. We have also successfully positioning a team of 8 workers in Tacloban.

The focus of the Tacloban team will be to reinstate the water treatment systems in the municipality, and in doing this, they will work with local orgnisations and workers at the treatment plant. This will require a lot of logistical work to ensure that fuel gets into the area, and the technical expertise is on the ground, but it is good to see this work commencing.

It was heartening to see a further distribution of much needed aid in the Daanbantayan area yesterday and to have another opportunity to talk with people from the villages. People were very grateful for access to further hygiene kits and water containers so that water can be purified for drinking.

Oxfam is also providing resources to allow local people to utilise the markets and keep the local economy going. We visited the local market, and the vendors reported that fish stock were down, but meat and vegetables were still in good supply. Custom, the stall holders noted, was slower than normal but it was heartening to see the market still operating.

People still need access to the basics, particularly those whose houses are damaged or destroyed. And there are many more challenges that these people face. I spoke to one young mother, with two children, and she said her husband can’t work because there is no electricity in the area, and so no work for him.

We also know that fishermen can’t fish at the moment. Our Oxfam teams, as a part of understanding what needs there are, have begun working on plans with communities like this. In such instances it means finding ways that we can attract some funds so that those affected by Typhoon Haiyan can begin to resume their ways of earning a living and looking after themselves – seedlings for farmers, nets for fishermen, boats and other things. People are beginning to repair houses and reinstate their properties, but this of course will take a while.

By Helen Szoke – Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia