Typhoon Haiyan three months on

Emergencies, Foreign aid, Media Releases, News article written on the 07 Feb 2014

Thanks to the generosity of the Australian public, Oxfam has helped almost 550,000 people hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan but, three months on from the devastating storm, there is still much more to be done.

 Oxfam Chief Executive Helen Szoke said the generosity of the Australian people and the Australian Government had helped Oxfam deliver emergency relief including clean water and sanitation, food and emergency shelter.

 “Tyhpoon Haiyan wreaked absolute havoc across much of the central Philippines but I saw first-hand in Cebu and Tacloban the impact that Australian generosity was having,” Dr Szoke said.

 “So far, our response teams have provided water and hygiene kits to 20,000 families, protecting more than 100,000 people from the spread of water borne disease, we have installed 2,000 communal temporary toilets to prevent the contamination of water supplies and spread of infectious disease and our teams have been clearing debris to prevent injury and remove breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.”

 But she said while the immediate humanitarian response was successful in saving thousands of lives, a strong focus on supporting the poorest and worst hit farmers, traders and fisher-people in the longer-term recovery efforts was now needed.

 “There is a long road ahead for families trying to rebuild their lives,” Dr Szoke said.

 “Close to six million workers lost their sources of income in Typhoon Haiyan. Small stores were flattened, thousands of boats and millions of coconut trees were destroyed and crops were lost.

 “Three months on and these people, now largely dependent on aid, are unsure how they will survive for the coming months and years.”

Latest figures show no funding has been allocated to the UN to support coconut workers and fisher-people to recover, while the Philippines government has been slow to deliver the agricultural and reconstruction support it has promised. 

 Australia is one of the largest aid donors to the Philippines and has pledged long-term assistance to the Philippines’ reconstruction and recovery efforts. Dr Szoke said it was critical that governments such as Australia appeal to the Government of the Philippines to deliver on its commitment to assist the poorest and worst affected people.

 “Coconut farmers and traders are integral to one of the Philippines’ most profitable industries and yet they are being left out of the recovery effort. Support and financial assistance to revive the disrupted livelihoods of these workers is vital to long-term recovery,” Dr Szoke said.  

 “Unless the Philippines Government steps in to provide the poorest farmers and fishers with real practical help, all the gains made in the last three months of this emergency response could be undermined in the long term.”

 The strongest typhoon to hit landfall on record, Typhoon Haiyan tore though the central Philippines on November 8 2013, killing more than 6,190 and forcing almost 4.1 million people from their homes.

 For interviews or more information, please contact Emma Whalan on 0418 873 782 or emmawhalan@oxfam.org.au