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Hagupit: Preparation saved lives
Preventative measures put in place following typhoon Haiyan undoubtedly saved lives when Hagupit struck the Philippines, says Action Against Hunger
London, 11 December 2014
Early warning systems and the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people ahead of typhoon Hagupit saved countless lives last weekend.
In the days before Hagupit reached land, the Philippines Government evacuated 717,000 people and an estimated 133,000 families (665,000 people) were temporarily homed in 1,758 evacuation centres spread across seven affected regions.
“It seems clear that preparedness measures, particularly those experiments under way after Typhoon Haiyan last year, have saved lives,” said Javad Amoozegar, director of Action Against Hunger in the Philippines. “Early warning systems and preventive evacuations undoubtedly served to minimise casualties.”
Last weekend, Action Against Hunger has provided drinking water to more than 13,000 people at four evacuation centres in Tacloban.
Our assessment teams have now been deployed to affected areas in Eastern Samar and Masbate, where they hope to start distributing water, hygiene kits and emergency food, as well as installing and restoring water infrastructure - essential to reduce the risk of disease and malnutrition.
The greatest challenge is access. So far the teams have found downed trees and power poles, meaning communication has been cut and houses made of light materials have been destroyed. It is feared that the largest damage has occurred in remote areas currently inaccessible because roads are blocked.
"The roads in the north of Borongan, in Samar, are impassable and we cannot access all the south-eastern part of the island of Masbate, "said Inigo Ranz, Action Against Hunger’s logistician in its Eastern Samar office. "In addition, we are particularly concerned about the areas of Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan North.
"Right now, the only information that we have of the situation in Eastern Samar comes from aerial surveys by the Philippines government, which suggest severe destruction to the city of Dolores,” said Ranz. “It could be even worse in the interior barangay.”
Concerns mount over loss of staple crops
As of Tuesday, food packages delivered by local authorities were reportedly exhausted. Also, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, 150,000 people in Masbate have lost their crops, which could threaten food security in the medium and long term.
Action Against Hunger, is working closely with the Government and national and local partners to improve access to water and sanitation systems and is providing nutritional and psychological care, as well as food security and livelihood support to the most vulnerable – including children under five, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly and the disabled. It also offers advice and support to reduce disaster risk.
"The lessons we learned from Typhoon Haiyan, just a year ago, we suggest that at this time the affected population needs food, water, health care, sanitation and emergency shelter materials," said Javad Amoozegar.
"Our field staff, ready to act at all times, has an extensive knowledge of the context. To date, we have been working with over 600,000 people in recovery from Haiyan and so continue to do so after the passage of Hagupit.”