Philippines emergency response continues

When tropical storm Washi pounded ashore in December 2011, affecting the lives of 1.1 million people, Handicap International took immediate action and provided emergency aid to the victims.

From February 20, a Handicap International team will begin supplying aid to highly vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities, along with the inhabitants of isolated areas.

The first distributions of essential supplies (emergency shelter kits, hygiene kits and protection kits) were made at the beginning of January, following Handicap International's evaluation mission at the end of December, in Cagayan de Oro. These distributions were also an opportunity to make more detailed needs assessment.

Information was gathered from evacuation centers, local government representatives in towns and villages (mayors, district heads, social and health workers, etc.), victims of the disaster and people with disabilities. Handicap International also took part in several coordination meetings with humanitarian operators and the authorities.

As a result, Handicap International will focus its actions on the following key areas:

The organization will set up Disability and Vulnerability Focal Points (DVFPs) in order to:

·    Help people with disabilities and highly vulnerable individuals (the elderly, pregnant women, unaccompanied children, etc.) access aid designed for disaster victims in general;

·    Identify the specific needs of people with disabilities and supply specialized, medical or technical solutions as appropriate.

Two mobile teams will cover several villages and evacuation centers, particularly in areas located furthest from the city center. They will identify the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities, older people, people living with chronic diseases, pregnant women, etc., distribute essential supply kits, technical aids and specific items, and provide responsive technical support.

Handicap International will also team up with other humanitarian operators to set up a referral system for disaster victims, raise the awareness of disability issues in emergency situations among humanitarian operators and the authorities, and support inclusive activities (to ensure the involvement of people with disabilities). At the same time, Handicap International will build the capacity of disabled people's organizations to lobby local authorities regarding the implementation of laws affecting people with disabilities. 

They should also be in a position to help people with disabilities with regards to specific activities, such as risk prevention in natural disasters, and coordinate their efforts with other international operators to perform emergency interventions by targeting specific needs, thereby enabling them to become Disability and Vulnerability Focal Points once Handicap International has completed its operations.


On Friday, December 16, 2011, typhoon Washi, locally known as Sendong, brought 10 hours of torrential rains that triggered disastrous flash flooding in Mindanao — in the South of the Philippines — an area where tropical cyclones are not common. Overnight, almost a thousand people were killed. 

According to the United Nations, more than 50,000 houses were damaged and livelihoods of some 1.1 million people were affected. One month on, 26,000 survivors remain in largely overcrowded evacuation centers in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Another 200,000 people are seeking refuge in makeshift shelters and with host families in their areas of origin.