Emergency appeal for typhoon season floods response

Publié: 20 septembre 2013 8:07 CET

By Afrhill Rances and Madeline Wilson

A month after Typhoon Utor and Tropical Storm Trami brought serious flooding to Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has been able to deliver food and non-food relief to at least 120,000 people in need, and is now scaling up to meet early recovery needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has increased its emergency appeal and is now aiming to raise 1.9 million Swiss francs to (approximately 2 million US dollars) to support 75,000 people over the next seven months. Already, planning has advanced to provide some 5,000 families with cash grants to enable them to buy commodities to help them to meet their basic everyday needs.

As floodwaters are yet to recede completely in some parts of Bulacan, Pampanga and Pangasinan, the Red Cross will also prioritize disease prevention and awareness education, with a strong focus on dengue and chikungunya prevention. Even though health statistics indicate a decline in nationwide figures for dengue when compared to last year, prevention efforts need to continue. One town in the province of Bataan has declared an outbreak of chikungunya.

“Clear, stagnant waters provide breeding places for mosquitoes, and prevention is better than cure. The Red Cross will continue in its efforts to encourage communities to destroy mosquito breeding sites,” Bernd Schell, head of delegation for the IFRC in the Philippines says.

Loida, 51, knows all too well what it is like to be affected by floodwaters over an extended period of time. She lives in the village of Artex Panghulo in Malabon city, one of the low-lying cities in Metro Manila. Locally known as the floating village, Artex Panghulo has been underwater for more than more than five years now.

“This used to be a community compound and now it’s submerged under water,” Loida says as she paddles a boat from one end of the village to the other, passing houses that have been raised on stilts and a general store that is only accessible by boat.

“The water here came three feet higher than normal,” says Loida of the severe floods that hit Metro Manila and surrounding provinces last month. “Many families had to seek refuge in an evacuation centre until the water receded, others stayed with family on higher ground.”

While Loida’s and her community have learnt to adapt to living on a waterway, they are incredibly susceptible to new flooding events. Trends in recent years indicate that seasonal flooding has become persistent not only in Malabon but also sections of Bataan Province and some of the areas surrounding Laguna de Bay, with floodwaters now taking months, if not weeks, to recede.

“The humanitarian community has no choice but to look beyond relief and recovery,” Schell says. “The IFRC will support Philippine Red Cross to pursue a partnership with an academic institution in undertaking a study that can inform longer-term solutions programmes to enhance resilience to flooding.”