Aid needed as iNGOs prepare for Philippine super typhoon

A gloomy view of Cebu outside the window of Maryann Zamora, World Vision's field communications specialist. Super Typhoon Haiyan hit Central Visayas, which includes the province of Cebu. Photo by: Maryann Zamora / World Vision

Additional international aid is needed as humanitarian groups stand by with limited relief goods and personnel after Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines early on Friday.

“We need cash support and logistics. We’re looking at private companies, public support and international community [for this],” Gwendolyn Pang, Philippine Red Cross secretary-general, told Devex.

The Philippine Red Cross has been on alert in preparation for this disaster. In the organization’s preparation and response plan, more than 15,000 relief kits will be deployed from their Cebu regional warehouse while about 5,000 sets of food packs are being readied in the currently worst-hit province of Leyte.

But more is needed.

Following the recent crises that hit the Philippines, including the recent Zamboanga conflict that displaced thousands of families as well as the earthquake a month ago in Bohol, the relief supply of humanitarian groups is getting depleted — and it needs to be replenished on time.

“Most of our preposition stocks were [already] used and depleted given the recent crises. We are in the process of replenishing them when this typhoon came,” said Nonoy Fajardo, UNICEF program specialist for disaster risk reduction and emergency. “We’re facilitating procurement and we’re hoping that we can even tap our procurement overseas so we could provide essential stocks that could be used for this new emergency.”

He said the U.N. agency will most likely require at least $12 million, more than that of Typhoon Bopha in 2012.

“I would expect the funding that we will be needing will be at least that amount. But again, we’re not sure yet because there hasn’t been [an assessment] report and we don’t know the extent of the damage,” noted Fajardo.

UNICEF has stock warehouses in Manila and Cotabato City in Mindanao, where aid workers are doing their best to refuel their relief stock so they can provide basic kits for 10,000 families at a moment’s notice. Most of the agency’s Philippine relief operations are focused on water, sanitation and hygiene as part of an elaborate cluster of different U.N. agencies with different “areas of responsibilities” and locally sourced goods.

“We make it a point that what is available locally, we procure locally,” said Fajardo.

Aid worker safety

Believed to be one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in the archipelago, with maximum sustained winds of up to 268 km/h, Haiyan is expected to tear through the central Philippines, where the majority of the country’s poor communities are located. This is why aid groups, along with the government, are standing by to respond to any immediate need of the victims.

“We’ve already organized teams, personnel and consultants, on the ground in response for the rapid needs assessment and they are on standby right now,” explained Fajardo.

Galvanized iron sheets, a typical roof material in the Philippines, were “flying like kites and ending up in the roads” while trees are being uprooted and glass windows are shattered due to the intensity of the typhoon, a representative from World Vision told Devex.

Provinces in the Visayas region are still nursing their wounds from the devastating earthquake a month ago. Aid workers, at this point, become more vulnerable as they put their lives at even more risk.

“Here in Cebu, we’re still in our temporary office because of the quake a month ago [because] our building got cracked,” said Maryann Zamora, local World Vision communication specialist. “There are aid workers who are responding to quake-affected families. It’s difficult because we are responding to these families but we are also trying to save our lives.”

Rapid needs assessment activity will commence either tonight or tomorrow and the report will be released a day or two after the assessment, according to Fajardo. This will be the main basis for relief operations of different international humanitarian groups.

But if immediate need is crucial, these groups are ready to respond, he said.

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About the author

  • Lean 2

    Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Prior to joining Devex, he covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics. Lean is based in Manila.