Six months after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) left a trail of devastation in 11 of the country’s 17 regions, the United Nations (UN) and humanitarian partners in the Philippines, and in support of the government-led response, have provided life-saving assistance to over a million people.
Since April, following the announcement by the government of the end of the response phase, the humanitarian community has since been supporting local governments to implement early recovery activities.
To mark six months since Typhoon Odette, the UN Philippines launched today the Typhoon Odette Six Months On Photo Exhibition at the Instituto Cervantes in Intramuros.
Hosted by the Embassy of Spain, the Instituto Cervantes and AECID and coordinated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the Humanitarian Community, the exhibit seeks to bring viewers closer to and raise awareness of the increase in the occurrence of disasters as a direct impact of climate change and its effects on the development of societies. It will be open to the public until Aug. 20, to mark World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said, “the Humanitarian Community will continue its support for the affected communities to ensure that progress made in the last six months is not rolled back.”
Gonzalez cited a recent report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which stated that damaged houses still number over 2.1 million. The revised Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) plan which was launched by the Humanitarian Country Team in the Philippines on Feb. 2 committed to provide assistance to 840,000 people in Caraga, Southern Leyte, Cebu and Bohol.
Shelter assistance as one of the main needs, was provided to over 210,000 typhoon-affected households. To date, close to 66,000 families have received kitchen items, sleeping kits, and lighting items. More Shelter Repair Kits and other shelter materials for the rebuilding of homes are needed however.
At the same time, over 3,000 people remain displaced in five regions (Regions VI, VII, VIII, MIMAROPA, and Caraga). In order to relocate these internally displaced persons (IDPs), resettlement sites need to be prepared.
Gonzalez also noted that in the last six months over 1.2 million people have received livelihood support, particularly for agriculture. Humanitarian partners have started implementing cash-for-work activities in Bohol and Southern Leyte, and this has helped beneficiaries to restart fishing and farming livelihoods.
However, restarting agricultural activities is hampered by a number of factors, including the unfinished clearing of debris left by Typhoon Odette, and challenges in operating farming equipment due to oil price increases.
Gonzalez said that some 84,000 healthcare workers have been deployed and have served in temporary health facilities. Still, health facilities remain semi-functional in many areas, and communities continue to require support to access health services.
Close to 46,000 children aged 0-59 months have been screened for acute malnutrition. The quality and coverage of services for the early detection and treatment of life-threatening acute malnutrition in early childhood need to be improved and prioritized.
Earlier, in the response effort, humanitarian partners deployed 562 trucks to deliver relief items. While logistics operations for Typhoon Odette have ended, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had requested humanitarian organizations to move cargo in response to Tropical Storm Agaton. The goods were moved into areas also affected by Typhoon Odette, including the delivery of Government supplied food, hygiene items, and family/sleeping kits, among others.
Gonzalez acknowledged the support of donors such as USAID, the European Union, Japan, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Japan, Australia, Canada, ADB, South Korea, France, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and Brazil or enabling the UN and over 260 humanitarian partners to address urgent humanitarian needs and implement early recovery programs through more than 15,000 activities in food security and nutrition, protection, shelter, WASH, education, health and Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM).
At the same time, Gonzalez said that while long-term and sustained recovery will be the focus of support to the Government until the end of the year, the Humanitarian Community will reinforce measures to strengthen preparedness and build resilience against future shocks.
“Humanitarian partners will continue to work closely with local authorities to pilot new approaches such as anticipatory action,” Gonzalez said.
“As nations continue to address the different impacts of the global pandemic, the reality is several hazards may strike at once. The Philippines has already experienced responding to catastrophes in a COVID-19 crisis scenario and amid difficult access to resources due to the war in Ukraine. This is forcing all of us to change the way operations are being conducted,” he added.