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April 13, 2024

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ph    Philippines   

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It is situated in the western Pacific Ocean, and consists of about 7,640 islands, that are broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Wikipedia

Capital: Manila

Dialing code: +63

President: Rodrigo Duterte

Population: 109.6 million (2020) World Bank

Currency: Philippine peso

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Foreword by the Humanitarian Coordinator

Just over a week ago, Super Typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, made its first landfall on 16 December 2021, bringing torrential rains, violent winds, floods and storm surges to the Visayas and Mindanao Islands. Overnight, the Typhoon left thousands of families homeless, placing at risk some of the impressive social and economic gains made since recovering from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years.

I congratulate the Government of the Philippines for their preparedness activities. The effectiveness of pre-emptive evacuation and early warning messaging saved many lives. Together, we are still grasping to understand the full impact on the lives of communities and on the economy. An estimated 16 million people in six of the Philippines 17 regions are affected, leaving about 2.4 million most vulnerable people in need of assistance.

Needs are tremendous. Only days before many Filipinos expected to reunite with family and friends, they now depend on our solidarity. Displaced people require safe, temporary shelter and repair kits to rebuild their homes. Many of them require food, potable water and medicines. People need access to sanitation and hygiene facilities. Planned pilots for school reopenings have come to a halt, worsening the negative psychosocial and mental impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of children.

The Secretary Locsin of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Theodore Locsin Jr, asked me to coordinate the response of the humanitarian community partners in support of government relief efforts.

I am proud to say that humanitarian partners under the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) are ready to shift gear. Provided enough funding is available and in line with the Government’s invitation to scale up collective efforts of in-country capacities, the HCT plans to support life-saving assistance to at least 530,000 people. Most activities benefit people in the worst-affected areas of CARAGA and Region VIII from December 2021 to June 2022.

International and local Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are the backbone of this response. I am mindful of the opportunity to show our commitment to strengthen local response mechanisms with people at the center of the response.

We all are aware that disasters like this disproportionally affect the most vulnerable in our communities, including children, women and girls, women and child-headed households, people with disabilities, older people, LGBTIQ persons and indigenous peoples. As such, the HCT is committed to integrate the protection needs of these groups, including their discrimination and exposure to sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), as well as their protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) in the response.

I am mindful that we need to do more to align humanitarian and development action to ensure a sustainable future. Contrary to predictions, Rai intensified from a tropical storm to a super typhoon within hours before making landfall. In the coming months, scientists will debate the attribution of Typhoon Rai to the impact of climate change. For now, the unusual storm formation at the end of the year and its sheer intensity require our collective effort to address the ever-increasing vulnerability of the region to climate hazards.

As we look forward to 2022, the trajectory of needs and the required scale of the response paint a dire picture. Together with the HCT, I remain committed to augment the Government’s relief efforts and stand in solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

Gustavo González

Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator

1. Situation Overview

Making its first landfall in the afternoon of 16 December 2021, Super Typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, brought torrential rains, violent winds, mudslides, floods and storm surges to central-southern Philippines, specifically the Visayas and Mindanao Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 195km/h and gustiness of 260km/h.

The Typhoon affected an estimated 16 million people across the six worst hit regions, leaving about 2.4 million people in need of assistance. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), it killed at least 258 people, injuring 568 people and displacing 631,000 people as of 23 December and across ten regions. The number of casualties, injured and displaced people is expected to increase as debris clearing progresses, communication and electricity are re-established and isolated areas are reached.

Contrary to predictions, Rai intensified from a tropical storm to a super typhoon within hours before making landfall. Super Typhoon Rai made nine landfalls in seven provinces, first approaching Siargao (Surigao del Norte) with maximum sustained winds of 195km/h before heading on with similar intensity to Cagdianao (Dinagat Islands), Liloan and Padre Burgos (both in Southern Leyte), President Carlos P. Garcia and Bien Unido (both in Bohol), Carcar (Cebu), La Libertad (Negros Oriental) and Roxas (Palawan). Rai exited the Philippines Area of Responsibility on 18 December as the strongest storm to hit Mindanao in 10 years and the 3rd ever strongest recorded storm in the Northern Hemisphere.

With Regions XIII (CARAGA), VI (Western Visayas), VII (Central Visayas), VIII (Eastern Visayas) and IV-B (MIMAROPA) most affected, government reports and initial rapid assessments suggest that communities in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Leyte and Southern Leyte bore the brunt of the Typhoon. Across the six provinces, where up to 46 per cent of people live below the poverty line, at least 1.2 million people are affected and at least 101,000 houses destroyed/damaged. More so, extensive damage and humanitarian needs are reported in Bohol and Cebu.

On 20 December, the Government declared the state of calamity in Region IV-B, VI, VII, VIII, X (Northern Mindanao) and XIII for a period of one year. The declaration provides authorities with access to emergency funds and the ability to reprogram other funds for disaster response activities. At the same time, the Government accepted the Humanitarian Country Team’s offer of assistance in augmenting locally-led response efforts commensurate to the needs on the ground.

Food, potable water, temporary shelter and repair kits, hygiene kits, medical supplies, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities as well as protection and psychosocial support services are urgently required. Affected people have expressed the preference of cash assistance to access local markets, where possible.

It is of vital importance to engage with and serve affected communities. Affected people need to be kept informed about available services and aid. Gender equality and the diversity of affected communities have to be addressed when engaging the community. Without access to reliable, timely, accurate information, affected people are unable to make the choices necessary to recover from the disaster and regain their livelihoods.

In its aftermath, some 71,000 houses are destroyed and 130,000 houses damaged across regions in the Typhoon’s path. While houses made from light materials were hit the hardest, the Typhoon was so strong at landfall that it also destroyed and damaged houses built with concrete.

While many families who evacuated as a pre-emptive measure have started to repair their damaged houses, DSWD reports that over 631,000 people are displaced. This includes 372,000 people in evacuation centres as well as another 259,000 people displaced with families and friends or in makeshift shelters. Unable to repair their damaged or destroyed houses, all require immediate emergency shelter assistance and further shelter recovery support.

Typhoon Rai caused significant damage to health facilities, schools and essential services. Over 650,000 women of reproductive age are estimated to require urgent sexual and reproductive health care services. Educational activities in 11 regions have been interrupted or suspended. With many schools damaged and others used as evacuation centres, it is of priority to ensure the return to school after the year-end holidays.

The Typhoon left 269 cities and municipalities without electricity and 348 locations with network interruptions. Authorities closed and restricted operations at 126 seaports and cancelled over 160 domestic and international flights. By 23 December, authorities were able to restore power in 144, as well as communication lines in 112 cities and municipalities. Some major cities and economic hubs, including Cebu and Puerto Princesa, as well as large areas in Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands and Southern Leyte, remained without or with intermittent power one week after being hit by the Typhoon. As assessments continue, the Government expects significant damage to infrastructure and that it may take several months to restore essential lifelines The Typhoon compromised access to safe water and sanitation facilities, heightening the risk of communicable disease outbreaks. Many affected people are now subsisting on springs and hand pumps for water, many of which are reported to have been contaminated by flood and sea waters. Many families whose homes have been totally or partially destroyed are reported to lack access to adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities and materials. Those in evacuation centres – many of them schools – are living in congested conditions with limited access to adequate WASH facilities that meet COVID-19 health standards.

Livelihoods have been lost, particularly of those who depend on farming or fishing to make a living. Authorities reported agriculture damage and losses across ten regions amounting to PhP2.6 billion (US$51.6 million), affecting farmers with a volume of production loss at 87,600 metric tons (MT) and 60,500 hectares of agricultural areas. If not addressed, affected smallholder farmers and fisherfolk’s food security and nutrition is likely to deteriorate.

Typhoon Rai struck as the Philippines was recovering from intense months of COVID-19 travel restrictions and days before many Filipino families would have reunited over the Christmas festivities. Since September, the Philippines has seen a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases with 181 new cases reported on 20 December compared to over 19,201 on 20 September. About 45 per cent of the population was fully vaccinated as of early December. With the Omicron variant detected in the Philippines around the same time as Typhoon Rai struck, the nation-wide Alert Level 2 remains in place until the end of December.

In addition to the serious public health consequences, the negative economic impact of the pandemic likely reduces the resiliency of people and their ability to bounce back from losses to private properties and livelihoods. In 2020, measures to contain the pandemic triggered a 9.6 per cent economic contraction, the highest across members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to the Asian Development Bank. In 2021, the Philippine economy is forecast to rebound and grow by 4.5 per cent. The economic recovery is pending the steady progress in vaccination leading to greater mobility of people and the reopening of businesses, which on the downside risks the resurgence or renewed escalation of the pandemic.

The Typhoon exacerbates vulnerabilities. Prior to the Typhoon, many of the cities and municipalities in the worst affected provinces already had a high poverty incidence, categorized as 2nd to 6th class. Indigenous communities residing in affected areas are particularly poor, malnourished, and lack access to public services, including health care.

The impact of Typhoon Rai is spread across several islands with diverse geographic characteristics and limited resilience. While storms typically make landfall in the southern parts of Luzon or the eastern part of the Visayas, Rai struck regions further south, which do not typically experience the brunt of typhoons. Southern Leyte, one of the worst affected areas, was previously ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013. Affected are also the economic hub of Cebu as well as several tourist spots in Siargao and Bohol. The impact of Typhoon Rai drew comparisons with previous storms, including Typhoon Washi (Sendong) in 2011 which hit on the same day and killed over 1,000 people and affected close to half a million people, as well as Typhoon Goni (Rolly) which swept across southern Luzon in 2020 affecting over 2 million people.

The Government is leading the response through the NDRRMC and related emergency response mechanisms. Humanitarian partners in the country – the United Nations (UN), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the private sector - are augmenting national and local authorities with the typhoon response, building on established partnership agreements and relationships strengthened over years of collaboration. The Government of the Philippines made significant efforts to protect people and infrastructure, leveraging the investment made since Typhoon Haiyan in improved early warning and reinforcing the important leadership role played by local officials. The effectiveness of the Government’s pre-emptive evacuation of 427,900 people to 2,861 evacuation centres ahead of landfall saved many lives.

National and local authorities rapidly mounted search, rescue, emergency relief and road clearing operations as soon as weather conditions improved. Humanitarian partners with pre-existing agreements with line ministries quickly supported local response efforts. While the full extent of the Typhoon’s impact is not yet known, rapid assessments undertaken within the first 72 hours of disaster onset confirmed widespread devastation.

The Government welcomed the HCT’s offer of assistance. Noting the continued fight against COVID-19 and the socio-economic impact to mitigate, on 20 December, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs invited the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and his team to step up collective efforts and support people in the most affected areas. By 20 December, the HCT, working through the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) and the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT), HCT members, with UN agencies, local and international NGOs, civil society organizations (CSOs), foundations and church groups, conducted 33 rapid assessments to inform this response plan.

Scaling up humanitarian support is increasingly urgent. As people are still shocked from the impact of the Typhoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is monitoring a low-pressure area over the Pacific that is expected to bring rains to Mindanao on 26 and 27 December. To avoid any further hazardous weather exposure, illness and harm to already affected communities, it is important that people are able to restore their homes and livelihoods as quickly as possible and within the next six months before the most active typhoon season between June to September.

The Humanitarian Needs and Priorities document asks for US$107.2 million to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs for the next six months. The level of priority has been based on initial results of government and HCT as well as on the results of the Joint Analysis for Disaster Exposure (JADE) developed by the Pacific Disaster Centre (PDC), WFP and OCHA on 15 December and updated on 16 December, modeling the potential disaster impact on communities and the economy ahead of Super Typhoon Rai’s landfall.

The document prioritizes life-saving and protection programmes, focusing on most vulnerable groups, including displaced persons, host communities, indigenous groups and other affected people. Combining poverty indicators and severe wind strength exposure, the document targets at least 530,000 people in the worst affected areas in CARAGA and Region VIII, as well as in other hard-hit regions. In four to six weeks from the launch, the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities plan will be revised to reflect the needs arising from additional assessments.

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