Nov 19, 2010

Philippines: more funding needed as Typhoon Megi survivors face fresh deluge

Three weeks after Typhoon Megi battered the Philippines, the situation for the survivors of Megi worsens as they face more torrential rain.

The Red Cross is increasing its relief efforts, but many people are still without emergency shelter largely because the IFRC's emergency appeal has, so far, been poorly funded.

The fresh rain may have deluged typhoon-affected families, but the donations have only trickled in. The IFRC's appeal for 4.2 million Swiss francs (4.3 million US dollars/3.1 million euros) is currently only 20 per cent funded.

"This serious lack of funding constrains our ability to provide much-needed assistance to vulnerable populations whose coping mechanisms have been dealt a double blow," says Selvaratnam Sinnadurai, the IFRC's country representative for Philippines. The stark reality is that the Red Cross is far from meeting the shelter needs of populations affected by Typhoon Megi. If rain continues to fall, the situation will further deteriorate.

The appeal aims to support the Philippine Red Cross in providing relief and early recovery assistance to 60,000 people across the five worst-hit provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, La Union and Pangasinan.

Dedicated staff and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross have already been distributing food packages to over 10,000 families as well as providing other relief supplies such as bedding and hygiene items to some 6,000 households.

Mary Rose Osocho, a 31-year-old mother of two, is one beneficiary of Red Cross relief supplies in Isabela province. Her family received sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, hygiene kits and jerry cans from the Red Cross. "These items will help us as we struggle to recover a normal life," she says.

However, like thousands of others whose houses were destroyed, her family is still exposed to the elements. For Mary, privacy and security are the least of her worries.

"We put up this structure with materials salvaged from our damaged house. Now rain and flash floods have dealt us another blow. It is really depressing," she laments.

And to compound the problems, the latest downpours have affected those provinces that were hardest hit by Typhoon Megi. According to the national disaster risk reduction and management council, eight deaths have been reported in Isabela, three in Cagayan and one in Kalinga. Some 124,000 families have been affected.

Philippine Red Cross specialized volunteer units and water rescue teams were immediately mobilized. They provided supplies, including ready-to-eat meals, to hundreds of families in evacuation centres.

"Relief distributions by some of our chapters have been hampered as sections of road remain impassable," says Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippines Red Cross.

"We need our partners' help to overcome this. We cannot do it alone," concludes Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.