International aid agency Oxfam has started an emergency response in the Philippines targeting communities hardest hit by Typhoon Bopha on the southern island of Mindanao.
Working with the Humanitarian Response Consortium – a group of local agencies – Oxfam’s key priorities include getting clean, safe drinking water to disaster-hit areas and establishing basic sanitation facilities.
Water treatment supplies and hygiene kits are being sent to the worst-hit areas in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces, where around 505,000 people have been severely affected.
The emergency response will also include providing cash support and starting cash-for-work projects to help families buy food, clothing and shelter needs.
Oxfam’s humanitarian program coordinator, Paul del Rosario, said it would take a long time for people to recover from the impact of Typhoon Bopha, known locally as Pablo.
“The needs are enormous. In the short term, we need to get people urgent help – basic shelter and access to safe water and food.
“In the medium to longer term, we need to support families with livelihoods. Farming communities have been the worst hit and it could take many years for them to fully recover,” he said.
Mayor of the Laak municipality in Compostela Valley, Reynaldo B Navarro, said food, drinking water and medicines were some of the most urgent needs.
“Although this area has been affected by conflict, this is the worst disaster to affect us. People will die slowly because all the crops were destroyed. People have no livelihoods and no employment,” he said.
Mother-of-nine Fatima Espinosa, from Kadiwa village in Laak municipality, said people had lost their homes and belongings.
“Everything that we worked to build up has been destroyed,” the 36-year-old said. “Our homes have almost all been destroyed or washed away, except for a very few. When you see the people in the community now, especially the younger children, it’s really difficult.”
The Humanitarian Response Consortium, supported by Oxfam, will initially target affected towns in Compostela Valley province, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur.
The seven-month emergency response targets 12,000 families. It is the biggest rural response to a natural disaster that the agencies have ever mounted in the Philippines.
According to the latest figures from the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, 647 people died during the typhoon, with 780 people still reported as missing. More than 302,000 people are still staying in temporary evacuation centres.
The Australian Government last week announced $5 million in emergency aid for the Philippines to support people and communities affected by Typhoon Bopha.
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org