Located along the typhoon belt and the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, the Philippines is highly exposed to various natural hazards. This is further compounded by conflict between the government and armed groups in the southernmost island of Mindanao. These events more often than not result in significant loss of life, livelihoods and 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 natural hazards, including typhoons, flooding, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, often causes large-scale damage and puts a heavy strain on local resources. In early January 2020, Taal Volcano, the country’s second most active volcano located 70 kilometres south of the capital, Manila, started spewing lava and sending massive ash clouds and debris as high as 800 metres into the air. The intense seismic activity forced more than 300,000 people to evacuate their homes while causing damage to infrastructure. In December 2019, typhoon Kammuri, locally known as typhoon Tisoy, caused widespread destruction when it ravaged large parts of the country’s central and northern regions. The storm affected close to 2 million people and damaged over 530,000 homes (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), situation report No. 18). Between mid-October and mid-December 2019, the conflict-torn region of Mindanao was struck by a series of strong and shallow earthquakes, leaving hundreds of thousands of people affected.
The ongoing Mindanao conflict, classified by the European Union as a ‘forgotten crisis’, has caused the displacement of close to a million people since 2012. These large-scale forced displacements have inevitably increased humanitarian needs.
In response to the eruption of Taal Volcano in January 2020, the European Union allocated €750,000 to provide shelter, access to clean water, good hygiene practices and sanitation facilities, child protection and psychological support.
In 2019, the EU provided financial support of €6.7 million to the Philippines to help the country’s most vulnerable people. Of this amount, €1 million contributed to disaster risk reduction and resilience building initiatives, as well as to strengthen existing government social safety net platforms. The remaining €5.7 million goes towards humanitarian assistance both for people affected by the conflict in Mindanao as well as for people affected by several natural hazards. This assistance which includes food and nutritional assistance, healthcare, water, sanitation, as well as access to safe, equitable and quality education.
In response to typhoon Kammuri, the EU provided €1 million to provide essential aid to those most in need. As an immediate response to the recent earthquakes in Mindanao, the EU allocated €500,000 to deliver crucial assistance to the most affected families in the worst hit provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato. The funding focuses on providing emergency shelter, food, clean water, psychosocial support and other vital aid to the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, including female-headed households, people with disabilities and indigenous people.
Following the monsoon flood triggered by tropical depression Usman in late 2018, the EU allocated €130,000 to deliver life-saving relief to those in the heaviest hit provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur in Bicol region. In response to typhoon Mangkhut, the EU mobilised an emergency aid package worth €2 million to bring support to the victims by providing shelter equipment, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and food assistance. Following August’s widespread flooding and landslides triggered by incessant monsoon rains in the archipelago nation, the EU provided €150,000 to support the Philippine Red Cross with humanitarian assistance for impacted families.
To reduce the impact of natural hazards and strengthen the capacities of communities to prepare for future events, the disaster preparedness programme was set up in 1996. Current activities focus on enhancing disaster resilience of local government units 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.