What are the needs?
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The country has well-developed crisis management capacities but with the incessant occurrence of strong cyclones and storms, often back-to-back, the European Commission has recurrently stepped in to deliver urgently needed humanitarian assistance. Around 20 typhoons hit the country every year, many of them destructive. The deadliest one so far has been Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as ‘Yolanda’), which crossed the archipelago in early November 2013 causing massive devastation. Most recently in mid-December 2015, Typhoon Melor (locally called ‘Nona’) swept across central parts of the country, resulting in widespread devastation.
Floods, landslides and the destruction of homes and livelihoods caused by frequent storms often leave people in need of temporary shelter, food and non-food items, clean water and sanitation facilities and primary health care, among others. Likewise, displacements because of socio-political turmoil in different zones trigger similar humanitarian needs among vulnerable populations.
Despite on-going efforts to bring an end to decades of conflict in Mindanao, sporadic outbursts of violence also cause short-term displacements of communities in the Southern part of the archipelago. The conflict has thus far displaced more than 495 000 people since 2012 and disrupted access to education for children.
How are we helping?
In 2015, the European Commission made available a total of €2.1 million in response to the prolonged armed conflict in the southern Mindanao Island, home to several armed groups fighting against the Philippines government. The funds supported the provision of life-saving relief items to the most vulnerable individuals as well as the management and arrangement of services at evacuation and displacement sites. Food assistance helped improve dietary diversity and reduce negative coping strategies amongst 24 000 households. A further €1 million was allocated in 2016 to support the delivery of quality education to children in the strife-ridden southern region.
Over the last two years, ECHO has provided close to €850 000 worth of humanitarian assistance to families displaced in 2013 in Zamboanga City, where some 10 000 houses were destroyed; over 28 000 people have still not been able to return. Most live in evacuation and transitional sites in very difficult conditions. The ECHO-funded action provides the IDPs with food, livelihood support, health services and protection until the authorities can provide a more permanent solution.