After cyclone Bopha, CARE delivers food to least accessible areas
Tropical cyclone Bopha made landfall in the Philippines on December 4, sweeping across the southern islands and affecting 26 of the Philippines’ 80 provinces. Winds of up to 210 kilometres per hour triggered flash floods, landslides, and widespread damage to homes and farms. This area of the country is not typically hit by strong storms, which has meant that regional authorities were not fully prepared.
The total population affected is currently estimated at over six million people, including over 1000, who have died and a further 800 missing. A total of over 216’000 houses have been damaged and about a quarter of those are reported to have been completely destroyed. Over 800’000 people have been displaced from their homes and are currently staying in evacuation shelters or with friends and relatives.
“Many people are currently relying on food relief for nourishment, so the priorities now are continued food relief and livelihood recovery” says Celso Dulce, CARE’s Philippines representative and disaster risk reduction advisor. “Most of the affected people are smallholder farmers growing crops like bananas, coconuts and oil palm, or they work as agricultural labourers. These crops take time to recover – banana plants for example take a year to become productive again – so helping farmers to plant during this season and ensuring access to fast-maturing crops is vital.”
Some villages only reachable on foot
Because of damaged roads and bridges, access to some communities is still very difficult. Humanitarian aid has been delayed in some areas due to continuing heavy rain and the difficulty of access. Some villages can still only be reached on foot, after hikes of several hours. In many areas infrastructure such as electricity and cellphone reception has not yet been restored, making coordination and communication difficult.
Sewage and water systems have been severely damaged. Many do not yet have reliable access to clean water or sanitation facilities, particularly in the temporary and informal shelters. Diarrhoea and other health problems have been reported. Access to health services including maternity care is also insufficient.
CARE distributes food and hygiene kits
CARE has already distributed food packages and water and hygiene kits to almost 15’000 people or 3’000 households. Along with food aid, CARE also plans to work with partners to deliver shelter and livelihood recovery programs. CARE’s efforts will be focused on the upland areas and isolated, often indigenous, communities which are more difficult to access and therefore may otherwise receive less assistance.
CARE will also continue to focus on disaster preparedness throughout its broader work in the Philippines, as the aftermath of Bopha clearly show how effective these programs can be. In areas where community-based disaster preparedness programs like ecosystem management, early warning systems, and evacuation plans had been implemented, people were better able to protect themselves, communities were more resilient, and losses and suffering were significantly reduced.
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. Learn more about CARE's work in the Philippines here.