As Typhoon Rammasun today tears its way across the Philippines, Oxfam has warned that there are insufficient evacuation centres in the disaster-prone country to keep people safe.
Speaking from Tacloban, Oxfam Philippines Country Director Justin Morgan said the first major typhoon of the so-called “disaster season” was a wake up call.
“This typhoon is powerful, but not the same strength as last year’s super typhoon. With people still living in vulnerable areas and makeshift shelters there is an urgency to help them get away from danger and into safe areas,” Mr Morgan said.
Typhoon Rammasun bore down on the Philippines last night, with strong winds destroying some tents, while rain and floodwater began to seep into makeshift homes in and around Tacloban, one of the areas worst hit by typhoon Haiyan.
Rammasun, which means “thunder of God,” is expected to intensify today, reaching a maximum speed of 101-185 kilometres per hour as it travels west towards Manila. Eastern Samar and Northern Leyte, also devastated by last year’s super typhoon, are among the areas expected to be affected.
Eight months after super typhoon Haiyan hit, many survivors continue to live in tents or damaged houses that are not strong enough to withstand even small storms. An estimated 40 per cent of disaster-affected households are currently living in temporary shelters, increasing their vulnerability to future storms.
Thousands of families in Tacloban have been evacuated to safer areas, with the majority going to the Astrodome. Many evacuation centres were damaged or destroyed by Haiyan. In some areas, only eight per cent of evacuation centres pre-Haiyan are still standing. This means that people living in coastal areas and other high risk zones will not have anywhere to go for safety as the typhoon season hits again.
“Governments need to prioritise the construction of safe evacuation centres and update their contingency plans, if we are to be better prepared for this year’s typhoon season. The relocation process must begin immediately, accompanied by proper consultations with affected communities,” Mr Morgan said.
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Oxfam in the Philippines: Oxfam has been operating in the Philippines since 1978. It is responding to the typhoon Haiyan disaster in Leyte, Eastern Samar and Cebu provinces and has supported 650,000 people. Oxfam has provided clean drinking water and sanitation products and facilities, as well as emergency food security and shelter assistance. It is also supporting poor families to make a living through cash for work initiatives such as debris and coconut tree clearing, rice seed distributions and fishing boat repairs and rebuilding.