Many families are displaced and living in evacuation centers after Typhoon Rai, which struck the Philippines in December. As part of its emergency response, Humanity & Inclusion is distributing hygiene kits and multi-purpose cash assistance to families in Surigao.
Schools are being used as emergency shelters. During the day, families work to repair their homes, and sleep in classrooms at night. One evacuee, Jennifer, brought her children’s lessons when they evacuated. Her husband is working to repair their damaged home.
“We will try to fix our house because we can’t stay in the evacuation center,” she explains. “This is the children’s school.”
Mary Joy Maling-on, 38, and her eight children had to leave their home, which is in a landslide-prone area. She received a hygiene kit that includes items like soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, towels, sanitary napkins, a bed pan, masks and a 5-gallon water jug.
"Thank you so much for the kit. It will be useful to my children, especially the soap and toothbrushes,” says Mary Joy Maling-on, pictured below.
Alexander, 47, has difficulty walking. His family and five other families—15 people total—share a classroom on the second floor of a school currently serving as an evacuation center.
"Thank you very much for the hygiene kit, particularly the bedpan that I can use at night,” he says. “The restroom is on the ground floor of the next building, and I only have my lighter to find my way in the dark.”
Displaced families have prioritized finding food and drinking water, both of which are scarce. Humanity & Inclusion and its partners have offered cash assistance to more than 270 families so they can buy food, diapers and other necessities.
Vena, one of the recipients, plans to buy plates, glasses and other kitchen essentials. "Someone gave us sardines, but we also like cassava [yuca],” Vena explains. “With the money, I will buy cassava, charcoal and fish. Thank you!”
Humanity & Inclusion is working with the Surigao City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and JPIC-IDC to help people impacted by the typhoon.
Humanity & Inclusion is preparing to launch its emergency relief operations in the Philippines to assist people following the devastation caused by Typhoon Rai.
More than 1 million people have been affected by Typhoon Rai, which hit the Philippines Dec. 16-18. Humanity & Inclusion was one of the first humanitarian actors to assess the damage in some of the hardest-hit communities.
Emergency aid in two provinces
After having assessed the needs of communities and individuals, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams in the Philippines will start their operations on Dec. 26 in the Bohol and Surigao del Norte.
In Bohol, teams plan to distribute 3,024 temporary shelters to people whose homes have been destroyed, and will provide 2,700 tarps in partnership with another organization. The support will provide families with decent shelter until they can rebuild their homes.
In Surigao Del Norte, Humanity & Inclusion is preparing to distribute 100 hygiene kits, containing items like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and sanitary towels. Teams are also set to provide 300 families with cash transfer in three barangays—neighborhoods—in Surigao City. Families will be able to use the aid to buy food in local markets.
“Our teams are happy to be part of these operations. Humanity & Inclusion was one of the first humanitarian organizations to assess needs in the field and we are happy to be returning with assistance to help affected populations,” says Alvin Dumduma, Humanity & Inclusion’s project manager in the Philippines. “We’re keen to start implementing the first aid operations.”
Working with local authorities and community teams, Humanity & Inclusion will identify the families and individuals with the greatest needs to prioritize aid efforts.
“The situation is changing all the time,” Dumduma explains. “People affected by the typhoon do not want to wait around in overcrowded and uncomfortable evacuation centers with limited access to sanitary facilities. They want to return home to rebuild their houses, even by using salvaged materials. We will have to reassess their needs when we start providing them with emergency assistance. With so many people affected, it’s really important to take into account the needs of the most vulnerable people and the most immediate needs.”
Humanity & Inclusion is looking into the possibility of working on child-friendly spaces, with educational and learning activities to ensure children still have access to education, and to provide them with mental health assistance to detect and treat trauma.
In a second phase of the response, the organization plans to distribute non-food items like cooking supplies and dignity kits, including items such as sanitary towels, underwear, toilet paper, and more.
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.”
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.
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.
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.