Haiti | Earthquake response continues
Since August 2021, Humanity & Inclusion has been responding to support the communities affected by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Haiti through rehabilitation and mental health services, logistics and clearance activities, hygiene supply distribution and inclusive humanitarian action.
Deliver emergency aid to HaitiRead more
Philippines | Emergency teams identify immediate needs after Super Typhoon Rai
After a devastating typhoon affected more than 1 million people in the Philippines, Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency teams are visiting the hardest-hit areas to determine the most urgent needs.
Super Typhoon Rai (locally called Odette) hit the Philippines a record-breaking nine times between Dec. 16 and 18, destroying numerous regions along the way. Over 1 million people have been affected, with more than 400,000 displaced in evacuation centers and another 64,000 people displaced outside of centers. While official numbers remain unclear, many are reporting more than 300 deaths. The storm brought significant flooding and 125mph winds, damaging and destroying roads, bridges, key infrastructure and over 6,000 homes. Hundreds of cities remain without reliable electricity, communication methods or access to basic goods.
Emergency teams deployed
Humanity & Inclusion was among the first actors to arrive in Bohol, one of the most affected areas, where the organization is conducting needs assessments to determine the most appropriate intervention, limitations and outcomes.
“Christmas is coming and thousands of families are homeless. People are feeling helpless and seeking assistance, but very limited assistance is available,” says Alvin Dumduma, Humanity & Inclusion’s project manager in the Philippines. “The hardest thing about my job right now is seeing my countrymen thirst and starve. Two people died in Surigao City because of dehydration; they did not know where to seek or ask for help.”
Overcrowded, under-resourced evacuation centers
Dumduma and his team are meeting with people staying at evacuation centers.
“The scarcity of food is a major problem in the centers,” Dumduma explains. “There are no hot meals and no ready-to-eat food. People have to cook their own food, but there is only one available cooker for all 800 families in one evacuation center.”
In addition to limited food sources, there are concerns for people’s health and safety.
“There are huge protection risks,” Dumduma continues. “Covid-19 has been forgotten. There is no social distancing or preventative measures; they are fitting as many people as possible into one room.
“Women, men and children are all in the same space. So, there are big protection concerns, especially for women and children at night.”
Dumduma says displaced families are eager to return home, but in many cases, it is unsafe to do so.
“People want to leave the centers and go back to their homes,” he adds. “They want to use salvaged materials and fallen trees to make a tent for shelter. This can put them in even more danger, as the materials are not stable, and in the coming days, even more rain is expected.”
Shortage of basic needs
In the most impacted areas, people are forming long lines at gas stations (pictured above), grocery stores and water stations.
“People are becoming increasingly worried that in the coming days, they will no longer have access to basic needs or gasoline, which is essential to power most machinery here,” Dumduma says. “Some water is being sent, but it is not enough considering the huge number of individuals in need. So many provinces have been affected and are calling for support.”
There is much work to be done as disaster response and recovery efforts continue.
“There is a lot of damage. We see children walking barefoot in debris and fallen trees,” Dumduma adds. “People are feeling helpless, but the Humanity & Inclusion team is still motivated and optimistic. We need to stay positive. People are smiling again when they see us arrive. Talking and listening to the affected community right now is a simple way to let them know we are here for them.”
Philippines | Super Typhoon Rai: huge damages
Typhoon Rai caused significant material damages across the middle of the Philippines. Humanity & Inclusion has an emergency team in one of the hardest-hit areas to identify needs.
Less than 48 hours after Typhoon Rai made landfall across the center of the Philippines, a Humanity & Inclusion emergency team reached the island of Bohol, one of the most affected by the storm’s devastating winds and floods. The team’s focus is on measuring the extent of damages, and identifying the most urgent needs among residents.
"When we arrived in Bohol, we could see that 90 to 95% of the houses had been submerged by the floods,” explains Alvin Dumduma, project manager for Humanity & Inclusion in Philippines. “And the houses made of light materials, like wood and metal sheets, are totally destroyed or have been swept away.”
As of Dec. 20, the death toll has risen to at least 375 people across the country. However, this toll is expected to rise, given the scale of the destruction and access difficulties, in particular due to damaged and cut-off roadways. In addition, communications were still very unstable as of Sunday evening local time.
"In the immediate future, the most urgent needs are access to drinking water, food, clothing and basic medicines,” Dumduma notes.
Due to the violent winds that affected the central Philippines, many families have lost everything. The region’s main economic activity is tourism, which was already impacted due to Covid-19 restrictions. The typhoon’s destructive nature may further aggravate the situation, and is expected to impact tourism activities in the next months.
Humanity & Inclusion teams will continue their evaluations on Monday. They’ll determine how the organization can best support the people with the greatest needs after the storm, including people with disabilities and aging residents.
In the last 20 years, natural disasters in the Philippines have claimed the lives of more than 31,000 people, and affected 98 million people. Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country in November 2013, claimed 8,000 lives and impacted the lives of nearly 15 million people.
The Philippines | Working alongside communities impacted by Super Typhoon Rai
Humanity & Inclusion has launched an emergency response to evaluate the impact of Super Typhoon Rai/Odette, which hit the Philippines on Dec. 16.
More than 332,800 people are displaced and staying in more than 300 evacuation centers throughout the central Philippines. The super typhoon directly affected nearly 68,000 people, according to early estimates. Reaching winds over 195 mph, this storm was as powerful as Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“The most impacted regions are rural areas, many of which are islands, with many traditional houses that are fragile and less resistant to this kind of disaster,” says Marie Catherine Mabrut, Humanity & Inclusion’s program manager in the Philippines. “Telephone and internet communications have been interrupted all day, which does not yet allow us to know the extent of the damage and the impact of the typhoon on the areas it has crossed.”
Deploying emergency teams
Humanity & Inclusion is deploying two teams to assess damages and community needs.
“A team will leave soon for the north of the island of Mindanao to conduct a needs analysis,” explains Mabrut. “A second team will leave as soon as possible from Manila. We hope communication services will quickly be restored, so that we can contact our partners. This is particularly important in the Central Visayas to give us a clearer vision of needs, particularly for people living with disabilities.”
Humanity & Inclusion’s staff in the Philippines is coordinating with other international actors, such as Relief International, Save the Children and Médecins du Monde. Humanity & Inclusion brings nearly 40 years of experience in emergency response, especially expertise in inclusive disaster relief efforts.
The Philippines | Teams ready to mobilize after Super Typhoon Rai
After an intense typhoon passed through the Philippines on Thursday, Humanity & Inclusion's teams are ready to take action.
Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes to seek shelter as Super Typhoon Rai/Odette made landfall. Bringing with it winds of up to 125 mph, the typhoon hit several islands, and communities are still at risk of flooding, landslides and the destruction of infrastructure.
Humanity & Inclusion’s teams on the ground are preparing to travel to the affected areas as soon as it's safe to do so. Staff will move to rapidly assess the needs of the population, including people with disabilities, in order to determine specific needs and urgency.
Preparing for disasters
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Typhoons are common and their after-effects—landslides, flash floods, etc.—are devastating.
In the last two decades, more than 31,000 people have been killed and 98 million people affected by natural disasters in the Philippines. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan claimed 8,000 lives and impacted nearly 15 million people.
Humanity & Inclusion has been a leading natural disaster response actor for several years and operates a disaster risk reduction project in the Philippines. In 2020, the organization responded to Typhoon Rolly-Goni, and this year a study of landslides was carried out with a range of partners to better understand and prepare for those events. Next year, Humanity & Inclusion will launch a project to review the country’s disaster preparedness and alert mechanisms.
Haiti | Teams distribute hygiene kits in earthquake's aftermath
Four months after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, Humanity & Inclusion's emergency response continues with the distribution of hygiene kits to people with disabilities.Read more
Sierra Leone | After explosion in Freetown, survivors need aid
At least 144 people were killed after a fuel tanker exploded in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, on Nov. 5. After assessing needs in the field, Humanity & Inclusion is moving on to the next stage of its response: assisting victims.
Humanity & Inclusion teams were working in Freetown when the explosion occurred and immediately began evaluating needs in the community. The victims include especially at-risk groups such as children, aging people and people with chronic diseases.
Focusing on rehabilitation and psychosocial support, Humanity & Inclusion will work in partnership with other organizations and the Freetown city authorities over the coming days to provide support to:
- 200 injured survivors of the explosion
- Relatives of the 144 people who have died
- 1,172 indirectly affected members of the community
- 50 health professionals
Rehabilitation and psychosocial support
In addition to emergency medical care, victims of the explosion will need long-term rehabilitation and psychosocial support.
Hundreds of people were injured in the explosion, many with severe burns. Burn victims risk developing joint contractures and difficulties with movement, and require special rehabilitation care. Unfortunately, physical therapists in Sierra Leone do not have expertise in caring for serious burn victims. Humanity & Inclusion plans to develop targeted rehabilitation activities so patients can get the care they need.
When people experience a traumatic event on this scale, victims and their families need help to overcome their pain and the impact of the accident.
“We plan to assist victims affected directly and indirectly by the disaster,” says Pauline Ducos, Humanity & Inclusion’s director in Sierra Leone. “Psychosocial support and rehabilitation care are among our main priorities. Humanity & Inclusion will help victims overcome the disaster and build their resilience. Social workers from our partner organization will reach out to each victim and their family, listen to them and refer them to specialized services, if necessary.”
Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency response includes:
- Rehabilitation care for burn victims: physical therapy sessions; patient follow-up; covering transportation costs
- Psychosocial activities: individual and group support; paying wages of psychosocial staff members
- Training health staff
Sierra Leone | Mobilizing support after deadly explosion in Freetown
More than 100 people were killed when a fuel tanker hit a large truck and exploded on Nov. 5 in Freetown’s Wellington district. Humanity & Inclusion staff in Sierra Leone are working to assist the community.
Humanity & Inclusion teams responded to the affected area, checking on people injured in the explosion, and their needs. Many people will require medical and rehabilitation care.
“It’s important to treat the injured, particularly serious burns victims, by providing them with rehabilitation care,” says Pauline Ducos, Humanity & Inclusion’s director in Sierra Leone. “If casualties are not treated after they leave the hospital, they risk losing their functional abilities and may develop a disability.”
Humanity & Inclusion’s teams also plan to help survivors and their relatives with psychosocial support.
“Our current priority is to give casualties psychosocial assistance in order to prevent extensive psychological damage,” explains Mamoud Kargbo, Humanity & Inclusion’s operations manager in Freetown.
Read the latest on Humanity & Inclusion's response.
A ‘national disaster’
Declared a “national disaster” by the Vice President of Sierra Leone, the explosion occurred when a fuel tanker collided with a large truck carrying granite. Most of the casualties are street vendors and motorcyclists who were attempting to recover fuel from the tanker when it exploded.
A total of 101 people died and 200 more were injured. Half of the people with injuries are unlikely to survive, according to the latest reports.
All casualties are being treated in the city’s hospitals and clinics, which have been overwhelmed by the sudden influx of patients. The facilities do not have staff with expertise on caring for serious burns victims.
Humanity & Inclusion in Sierra Leone
Humanity & Inclusion began working in Sierra Leone in 1996, when it opened a rehabilitation center in Bo, followed by three other centers. Since then, Humanity & Inclusion has worked alongside the medical community to improve the standard of rehabilitation care. Teams also promote inclusive education, protection and mental health.
Humanity & Inclusion has responded to major health emergencies in the country, including the Ebola epidemic from 2013 to 2015, the mudslide in 2017, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the last 25 years, Humanity & Inclusion has served tens of thousands of individuals, including people with disabilities, children and women to alleviate poverty and improve access to essential services.
Philippines | Inclusive disaster risk reduction at work
In the Philippines, frequent natural disasters have serious consequences for people with disabilities. Humanity & Inclusion works closely with affected communities to ensure inclusive disaster preparation.
Located in the North Pacific typhoon belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country experiences frequent cyclones, volcanic activity and earthquakes, putting its more than 100,000,000 residents at risk.
“Persons with disabilities are invisible during crisis events in the Philippines, whether caused by cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or COVID-19,” explains Carissa Galla, Humanity & Inclusion’s Disaster Risk Reduction Technical Specialist for the region. “How many people with disabilities are affected? How many can access humanitarian assistance? How many receive warning information and can evacuate safely? This information is rarely collected, so the needs are not considered. We need to work with persons with disabilities and their organizations to ensure that no one is invisible during emergencies.”
In the event of disaster, people with disabilities are up to four times more likely to lose their lives than those without disabilities. They are often left out of disaster preparedness planning, resulting in accessibility barriers and a lack of adapted emergency resources.
Humanity & Inclusion operates inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) projects in 15 countries, including the Philippines: one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
Empowering local leaders
In the Philippines, Humanity & Inclusion teams are working to reduce the vulnerability of 32 barangays—small administrative districts—devastated by Typhoon Ompong in 2018, and to prepare for disaster risks by enhancing the meaningful, inclusive participation of civil societies in disaster and climate risk governance.
Project EMPOWER, funded by the European Union and operated by Humanity & Inclusion in partnership with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, aims to:
- Develop preparedness plans in 3,000 households
- Distribute 26 inclusive early warning kits to communities including items such as megaphones, whistles, bells, and visual devices such as color-coded flags, communication cards, reflective vests, ponchos, LED flashlights, solar panels, headlamps, and transistor radios
- Remove barriers for aging people, people with disabilities, children and women in DRR actions
- Increase the number of women leaders and active members of disaster and climate risk governance structures by more than 500
- Increase community organization-led climate risk initiatives by 80%
- Improve municipality contingency plans and implement 26 climate risk help desks
- Conduct and create modules for inclusive DRR training for organizations and policymakers
- Host gender, age and disability sensitivity workshops and simulation exercises
- Collect data regarding gender, age, disability, risks and resources.
Uplifting voices of impacted people
“When Typhoon Ompong hit our municipality and killed 94 people, I realized the importance of citizens' participation in risk governance,” says Avelino Tomas, Regional President of the Organization of People with Disabilities. “Persons with disabilities are capable of taking control of their lives and safety. We must allow them to participate and contribute to disaster and climate risk governance."
Not only must we include their needs in disaster risk reduction efforts, we must ensure that people with disabilities are active contributors to the response. According to a UN 2013 survey, 50% of people with disabilities said they wished to participate in disaster risk reduction efforts, but only 17% were aware of any plans in their community.
Many authorities focus on what people with disabilities cannot do while ignoring their expertise and capability to lead initiatives. In the Philippines and elsewhere, misconceptions and barriers to participation give people the false impression that people with disabilities can only be passive recipients of assistance. Surveys revealed that many in the community perceived these individuals as “victims,” “fragile,” or “burdens” in a disaster scenario.
Carmela Penchon, Secretary of the Federation of Persons with Disabilities in Itogen shared that as a woman with a disability, she felt unable to actively contribute to climate governance policies. After attending a Humanity & Inclusion awareness session on disability, gender and age sensitivity, she has become an outspoken and active advocate, championing ways to protect her community and lead DRR and climate change management initiatives.
Global climate change conference
Humanity & Inclusion is attending COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow, Scotland, to advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities in disaster risk reduction and climate change governance around the world. Over a billion people are concerned by inclusive risk reduction planning and climate action, and it is no longer acceptable for policymakers to exclude people with disabilities from response efforts.
Joint Statement: Climate crisis a humanitarian concern
Silver Spring, MD — Below is a statement on behalf of the 160 signatories to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations to the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties, known as COP26:
“Today’s climate and environmental crises threaten the survival of humanity. All dimensions of our lives are affected, from our physical and mental health to our food, water and economic security. While the crises are impacting everyone, those who have contributed least to the problem are hit hardest – and it is only getting worse.” —Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations
The latest scientific evidence, including the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, reconfirms the truth of those these words. Our planet is in a period of accelerating climate and environmental crises, the effects of which are being felt by all of us. As humanitarian organizations we see this every day in our work.
As the world prepares to come together for COP26 in Glasgow this November, we urge negotiators to bear in mind the humanitarian consequences of their decisions. Climate-related disasters have nearly doubled in the past 20 years and weather-related hazards are now the number one driver of internal displacement, affecting most notably the poorest and most marginalized people.
The climate crisis is adding an additional layer of stress to humanitarian organizations that are already stretched thinner than ever before. Urgent and ambitious action is needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to rising risks, so that we can avert the most disastrous consequences on people and the environment. Without ambitious climate action, humanitarian organizations will struggle to respond to increasing needs.
Even in the best-case scenarios over the coming years, we know that a certain amount of climate change and environmental degradation is set to occur, and that their humanitarian consequences are likely to increase. We must consider individual characteristics such as age, gender, and legal status, as well as structural situations that affect people’s exposure to risk, to ensure that people who are most vulnerable to those consequences receive the support they need to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
When we signed the Charter, we committed to scale up our action, reduce risks and vulnerability, and support those most at risk. We pledged to act upon local leadership and experience, to invest in durable responses, and to draw on and amplify local and indigenous knowledge. We promised to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, minimize the damage we cause to the environment, and reduce our waste, and to share information, insights, and resources so that the impact of our efforts is amplified.
We know that radical transformation is needed. We are determined to act, urgently and intentionally, and we call on everyone, across the humanitarian sector and beyond, to do the same.
Signed by the Signatories to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, including Humanity & Inclusion (HI) Federation.
The Charter is open for signature by all humanitarian organizations.
Information about the Charter and guidance on its implementation are available at www.climate-charter.org