Oxfam staff in The Philippines are available for interview today, including Oxfam Philippines Country Director Justin Morgan, who is an Australian and also responded to Typhoon Haiyan. Oxfam Australia’s Head of Humanitarian Response, Meg Quartermaine, is available for interview from Melbourne.
As Typhoon Hagupit slowly pushes its way across the Philippines, international aid agency Oxfam is working to ensure clean water and sanitation for affected communities and the hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in evacuation centres.
Typhoon Hagupit continues to advance across the Philippines, dumping intense rainfall, causing flooding, storm surges and high winds. Oxfam’s Country Director in the Philippines, Justin Morgan, said while the number of reported fatalities was so far very small the intense rainfall caused by the Typhoon could cause dangerous flooding and landslides in the coming days.
“This typhoon hasn’t finished with the Philippines yet, and there is a real risk of intense flooding and landslides in the coming days” Mr Morgan said.
“We will not know the areas of greatest need until further assessments are completed but what we do know is that in all disasters clean water is a priority and Oxfam will be working to ensure communities have access to safe water. In the short term this will include ensuring those in evacuation centres have access to water and essential items.”
Mr Morgan said many households along the path of Typhoon Hagupit were still recovering from Haiyan, and many were still rebuilding their homes and their livelihoods.
“Eastern Visayas, where Hagupit slammed into late on Saturday night, was already one of the poorest areas in the country before Typhoon Haiyan. As many households continue to struggle to regain previous levels of income from farming and fishing, poverty and vulnerability has worsened – the last thing these people needed was another typhoon,” he said.
Oxfam has assessed water and sanitation systems in evacuation centres and is working with local governments to ensure they are adequate to meet people’s needs. Oxfam is now preparing to distribute pre-positioned water purification and household water kits as well as hygiene kits with soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sleeping mats and blankets.
“The preparedness of the government and aid agencies that have learned a great deal since Typhoon Haiyan hit the country last year has without a doubt saved lives this time,” Mr Morgan said.
Oxfam Australia head of emergency response, Meg Quartermaine, said as well as ensuring clean water and sanitation was available to affected communities and people in evacuation centres, it was also important to ensure the safety of women and children in the aftermath of this typhoon.
“When there is prolonged displacement because of damage to homes, there is an increased risk of violence against women so preventative and response measures are needed from the earliest stages of any humanitarian response,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“This usually includes ensuring adequate measures are in place at evacuation centres and other centres housing displaced people, including female police officers, separate toilet facilities for men and women, and adequate electricity and lighting.”
Oxfam now has 15 teams ready for deployment in Leyte, Eastern Samar and Northern Cebu. Typhoon Hagupit first made landfall in the area of Dolores in Eastern Samar late Saturday evening. It has been tracking west and made landfall in Cataingian, Masbate on Sunday. It is due to exit The Philippines late Tuesday.
For more info on Oxfam’s response to Typhoon Hagupit follow @oxfamph