27 September 2010
In September 2009 four countries in the Asia-Pacific region - the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Samoa - were reeling from the impact of consecutive natural disasters that struck over a one-week period. More than 2,500 people perished and almost 11 million people were directly affected when the region suffered the combined impact of typhoons, an earthquake and a tsunami. Today, those same communities have made dramatic steps towards recovery, infrastructure has been repaired, water supplies restored and people who lost their homes once more have a roof over their heads.
On 26 September 2009, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines, killing 1000 people and leaving 300,000 houses damaged or destroyed. The Philippines then suffered the effects of two further typhoons following in the wake of Ketsana - Parma on 3 October and Mirinae on 30 October. Philippine Red Cross disaster response teams rescued almost 4,000 people and, in the weeks and months following the disaster, provided food parcels for 725,000 people living in 59 evacuation centres. Thousands more were provided with household items such as blankets, mosquito nets, jerry-cans and sleeping mats. One of the main needs in the aftermath of Ketsana was shelter and in the past year over 5,000 households have received shelter kits comprised of materials and tools needed to repair their damaged homes. New transitional shelters have been also built for a further 1,400 families. The Red Cross involved affected communities in every step of the shelter programme, from negotiations with local authorities about land ownership issues to decision-making about the construction materials used and the location of new homes.
When Ketsana left the Philippines it cut a swathe of destruction across 13 provinces in central Vietnam on 29 September - 293 people were killed, 23,500 homes destroyed and 172,000 hectares of agricultural crops damaged. As well as distributing rice to more than 407,000 people, the Vietnam Red Cross deployed a water treatment unit to provide more than 118,000 litres of fresh water to 5,500 homes and distributing more than 5,000 household water tanks. Shelter has been a major need in Vietnam. By the end of September 2010, 650 families had received new storm- and flood-resistant houses which were constructed in close cooperation with affected families, local communities and local builders.
On 30 September and 1 October 2009, two major earthquakes struck West Sumatra in Indonesia, killing more than 1,000 people and damaging 250,000 homes. More than 4,000 people were displaced from their homes and the Red Cross provided emergency relief to over 345,000 people until December 2009. Working closely with the Indonesian Red Cross and other Red Cross partners, the IFRC has been actively engaged in reconstruction efforts and 12,745 transitional shelters have currently been completed across four of the worst-affected districts. A beneficiary communication programme supported the overall recovery effort. Regular programmes produced by the Indonesian Red Cross and broadcast on community radio and local TV helped communities to have a much clearer understanding of the programme and gave them the opportunity to be heard.
On 29 September 2009 two simultaneous earthquakes off the coast of Samoa produced 11-metre high tsunami waves that affected more than 5,200 people living along a 40-kilometre stretch of the south-eastern and eastern coastline. As well as providing relief supplies, the Samoa Red Cross has been working to improve water supply, particularly to people who have relocated inland, away from the ocean. More than 69 community tanks have been installed to provide water in 10 villages. At the same time tents, tarpaulins and almost 400 shelter kits were provided by the Red Cross to help people repair their damaged homes.
For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:
In Kuala Lumpur: Patrick Fuller, communications manager Tel: + 60 12 2308451
In Bangkok: Lasse Norgaard, communications delegate Tel: + 66 89 635 7177
In Geneva: Paul Conneally, head of media and public communications unit Tel: + 41 79 308 9809