Emergency Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods Assessment for Typhoon Bopha (Pablo), Philippines - January 2013

Typhoon Bopha (local name Pablo) made landfall early morning on 4 December 2012, in Davao Oriental (Mindanao) and traversed Mindanao, Visayas and Palawan leaving severe damages and destruction behind. This Typhoon contained twice the rainfall and three times the wind strength of the Tropical Storm Washi which hit northern Mindanao in December 2011. Typhoon Bopha severely affected several regions along its course and in seven regions 6.2 million persons (over 1.2 million families) were reported to have been affected.

The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) estimated cost of damage caused by Typhoon Bopha at more than Php30 billion (USD 750 million). According to the DA, the banana industry incurred the highest loss, amounting to around Php20 billion (USD 500 million). Damage to coconut farms amounted to Php7.22 billion (USD 193 million), while rice and maize farms incurred damage costs reaching Php197 million (USD 5 million) and Php362 million (USD 9 million), respectively. Farms growing high value crops like coffee, cacao, vegetables, rubber and fruit trees had a total damage valued at Php2 million (USD 50 thousand). Abaca plantations incurred Php233,000 (USD 6,000) worth of damage, while livestock and poultry raisers incurred Php327, 000 (USD 8,000.) Damage to fisheries infrastructure was estimated at Php53 million (USD 1.3 million), and irrigation facilities at Php829 million (USD 21 million).

Worst affected was the eastern part of the island where the typhoon made its landfall, particularly the provinces of Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur. The government reported that a total of 14,176 hectares (ha) of banana plantations, mostly located in Compostela Valley Province, were destroyed in the typhoon. The majority of losses were incurred by small growers (9,020 hectares). The Philippine Coconut Authority-Region XI (PCA-XI) estimates that Bopha affected at least 101,000 ha of coconut farms in the region. Coconut farmers in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental suffered the most severe damage, losing 33 percent and 52 percent, respectively, of their total coconut areas.

Pre-typhoon livelihoods in Eastern Mindanao were characterized by subsistence agriculture and small livestock and poultry-raising, augmented with income from various labour opportunities, both salaried and unsalaried, and skilled and unskilled. The area enjoyed a mixed food economy, with most households growing some of their food and purchasing the rest with income earned from both farm and off-farm activities. Staple food supplies in the market were generally sufficient, and markets prices stable.

Typhoon Bopha turned this picture upside down overnight, destroying houses and infrastructure, devastating agricultural and horticultural assets, seriously eroding the commercial agriculture industry for which the area is known, and thereby seriously reducing other income streams for some time to come.

One month after the typhoon, a survey was conducted jointly by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Nutrition Council, Department of Labor and Employment, World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, FAO, UNDP, ILO, World Vision International and Action Against Hunger (ACF International) to better understand the impact of the typhoon on household food security, nutrition and livelihoods. The survey covered a total of 865 households in the 4 worst affected provinces. The affected communities were divided into 6 strata – worst hit municipalities in Davao Oriental (Boston-Cateel-Baganga) and Compostela Valley (New Bataan-Compostela-Montevista), rest of these two provinces, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur. Additionally, 172 traders and 125 community questionnaires were also canvassed to elicit market and community level information through key informant interviews.