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 its humanitarian partners in the Philippines have provided life-saving assistance to over a million Filipinos.
Since April, following the announcement by the Philippine government of the end of the response phase, the humanitarian community has since been supporting local governments in implementing early recovery activities.
UN Philippines on Thursday launched the Typhoon Odette Six Months On Photo Exhibition at the Instituto Cervantes in Intramuros.
This exhibition, hosted by the Embassy of Spain, the Instituto Cervantes and AECID, in coordination by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the Humanitarian Community, seeks to bring the public closer to and raise awareness on the increase in the occurrence of disasters as a direct impact of climate change and its effects on the development of societies.
The exhibits will be open to the public until 20 August, to mark World Humanitarian Day on 19 August.
UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said; “The humanitarian community will continue its support to 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.
However, more shelter repair kits and other materials for the rebuilding of homes are needed.
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 over the last six months, more than 1.2 million people have received livelihood support, particularly for agriculture.
Humanitarian partners have also started implementing cash-for-work activities in Bohol and Southern Leyte, and this has helped beneficiaries to restart their fishing and farming livelihoods.
However, restarting agricultural activities is hampered by some 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. But health facilities remain semi-functional in many areas, and communities continue to require support to access health services.
Close to 46,000 babies 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 needs 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 the USAID, the European Union, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Japan, Australia, Canada, the ADB, South Korea, France, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and Brazil.
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 calamities.
“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.