Fresh water supplies bring hope for the future after Typhoon Haiyan

Published: 4 December 2013 9:49 CET

By Nichola Jones, IFRC, in Tacloban

Four weeks ago, the area of Tolosa outside Tacloban had a plentiful supply of water. Wells and hand pumps were providing thousands of households with what they needed for washing, drinking and cleaning every day.

After Typhoon Haiyan, that changed dramatically. The supply was no longer safe and the community was at risk of illness and uncertain of how they would manage without water.

But last Thursday, safe water was again bubbling through water bladders installed by a team of specialists from Spanish Red Cross set up a project to provide supplies to thousands of people.

Jorge Durand Zurdo, Spanish Red Cross water team leader, explained: “We have been able to take the water from a well, treat it and make it safe, and then make it available to people through water storage bladders, tankers and taps. We have five distribution points in this area and water is getting to the people who need it.”

The minimum about of water needed per person per day is 15 litres. The project is providing thousands of litres of water each day.

Primo Aguinaldo Pundavela, 65, was born in Talosa and says that, although the area remains stunned by the destruction of Haiyan, improvements to the availability of water are a significant step forward. “The water has helped – we were concerned about getting sick from drinking the water we had before,” he says.

Although water supply has improved other needs such as shelter, health and livelihoods remain massive. Primo, who works in the construction industry, said: “People here are doing the best they can to recover. They’re building with what they can find for shelter now but in the long term, they are going to need a lot more help.”

The Philippine Red Cross is also distributing water via tankers and jerry cans across Tacloban city and the surrounding areas as the need remains high. The UN estimates that 4.5m people across the typhoon-affected areas need water supplies, hygiene help or access to toilets and latrines. Expert teams from the Austrian, Swedish and German Red Cross are also operating in Leyte to ensure sanitation and hygiene are at the heart of recovery operations.