In response to the onslaught of Typhoon Goni, which hit the Philippines around 5 November leaving hundreds of thousands of people without a home, relief agencies internationally are supporting 49 000 people in the hardest-hit areas of the Bicol region with lifesaving aid. Typhoon Goni, the strongest tropical cyclone observed worldwide so far in 2020, is one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record.
Lot Felizco, country director in the Philippines of Oxfam, says the response aims to provide immediate shelter, clean water, sanitation, hygiene, food, cash assistance and protection to the most vulnerable people in the disaster-struck region of Bicol including provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes. She says they have already reached 8550 individuals with potable water, water treatment tablets, hygiene kits, food packs and cooked food through community kitchens, sleeping kits, solar lamps, and kitchen essentials. “We are also distributing desperately needed cash to 600 households. Typhoon Goni, was followed by Typhoon Vamco a week later on 11 November, devastating the lives of more than three million people in eight regions of the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of people now displaced are in dire need of clean water, sanitation facilities, and cash to buy food and shelter grade material,” says the country director.
According to Felizco, the agencies are assisting community members in constructing water stations to provide immediate access to potable water and in repairing water sources in San Isidro Village, one of the most heavily affected communities by Super Typhoon Goni. She says the climate crisis has fuelled some of these frequent and extremes weather disasters.
“In October, the country was battered by seven consecutive typhoons that ripped apart homes and livelihoods and left unprecedented destruction in more than 30 provinces. These typhoons may have already left the country but their aftermath havoc, including disease outbreaks and food insecurity, is far from over,” says Felizco.
According to the country director, recovery will be a long journey for many communities living in poverty and are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. She says the long-term impacts on farmers reeling from successive emergencies is bleaker, as their crops and livelihoods, particularly in the ‘rice bowl’ areas of central and North Luzon island, which have been hit hard by the typhoon, will be decimated. Mirriam Solleza, farmer and Oxfam staff member who lives in Infanta, Quezon with her family says her livestock, rice, bananas and vegetables are badly damaged and they were supposed to continue harvesting next week, but this is no longer possible. She says her house is totally submerged in floodwater and their drinking water is contaminated.
Solleza says many houses are totally washed out, toilet facilities are damaged and they don’t have safe drinking water in her village with wells are completely submerged. With more typhoons expected to land by the end of the year, thousands of families who are without safe shelter or emergency essentials will be more prone to getting diseases including COVID19, unless humanitarian agencies are able to act fast. "Oxfam has been working in the Philippines for more than 30 years, together with 15 partners and have reached over 105 000 of the poorest and most vulnerable people across the country with life-saving assistance including responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urgently need 1 million GBP to support 50 000 of the most vulnerable people affected by Super Typhoon Goni," says Felizco.