Located along the typhoon belt and the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, the Philippines is highly exposed to various natural disasters. This is further compounded by armed conflict between the government and armed groups in the southernmost island of Mindanao. These events more often than not result in significant losses of lives and livelihoods whilst causing many people to lose their homes. The European Union provides assistance in the form of food, water and sanitation facilities, health services, and emergency livelihood support.
Although the Philippines has well-developed crisis management capacities, the incessant occurrence of strong cyclones and storms has often put a heavy strain on local resources. Around 20 typhoons hit the country every year. Most recently, in September 2018 typhoon Mangkhut (locally known as Ompong) hit the northern part of Luzon, affecting almost 1.5 million people and causing widespread damage to the livelihood opportunities of affected population and to the infrastructure of the region. Also, in early August, incessant monsoon rains triggered widespread flooding and landslides in 28 provinces across the archipelago nation. The events displaced close to 400 000 people whilst causing extensive damage to infrastructure, farmlands and livestock. Earlier in December 2017, tropical storm Tembin struck the southern part of the country, leaving behind a trail of destruction in communities already displaced by the ongoing conflict in the region. In late 2016, three powerful storms – typhoon Meranti, typhoon Sarika and typhoon Haima- caused large-scale devastation across northern Luzon, affecting more than one million people.
Sporadic outbursts of violence between armed groups and the Philippine government in Mindanao also regularly trigger displacements of communities in the southern part of the country. The ongoing Mindanao conflict, classified by European Commission as a ‘forgotten crisis’, has caused the displacement of close to a million people since 2012. These large-scale scale forced displacements have inevitably increased humanitarian needs.
In 2018, the European Union has provided more than €3 million to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by both disasters and the prolonged armed conflict in Mindanao, including those displaced by the large-scale crisis in the region of Marawi since May 2017. These funds support the provision of food, water supply and sanitation facilities, health services, emergency livelihood support, and protection to vulnerable individuals. The funding will also enhance the disaster risk reduction capacities of vulnerable populations.
The Commission has further mobilised an emergency aid package worth €2 million to bring support to the victims of typhoon Mangkhut to address the most urgent needs of the communities such as shelters equipment, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and food assistance.
Furthermore in response to the recent monsoon floods, the EU provided €150 000 to bring emergency relief to those most in need in some of the worst-hit localities. Earlier when typhoon Tembin struck southern Philippines, €570 000 was allocated to deliver emergency relief assistance.
In late 2016, when three successive typhoons struck the northern Philippines and affected over 1.8 million people while damaging hundreds of homes, the Commission provided a total of €628 000 to provide food and other essential relief items to impacted families. Previously in December 2015, €1.5 million was committed following typhoon Melor that enabled the provision of food, safe drinking water and emergency shelter materials. It also helped the affected populations to create alternative sources of income by the introduction of several initiatives, including vegetable gardening and poultry farming.
In response to typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in November 2013 and considered the most destructive cyclone to hit the country, the Commission provided €30 million in humanitarian assistance, early recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated to coordinate European relief efforts, following a request from the Philippines authorities. All 28 EU Member States extended their support, dispatching personnel or material assistance, such as water purification teams and medical supplies, and generous financial aid totalling over €180 million.
For 2018-2019, the Commission is providing €1 million to enhance disaster resilience of local government and impoverished families living in high-risk urban areas in Metro Manila, through a series of activities such as local capacity building, early warning systems, education, public awareness campaigns and resilience livelihood planning.