Tackling immediate shelter needs a priority
Living up to its reputation, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and flooding struck the disaster-prone Asia-Pacific region in 2011. Habitat for Humanity is committed to providing relief to people affected by disasters, recognizing shelter as a basic human right, and responded to many of the major disasters in the region this year.
Tropical storm Washi, or Sendong, swept across southern Philippines from 16 to 18 December, killing more than 900 people. Habitat for Humanity Philippines plans to distribute hygiene or clean-up kits and emergency shelter kits to help 5,000-10,000 affected families in the coming weeks and months.
The Southeast Asia Floods Appeal was launched on 28 October to fund a major response operation following flooding in Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Habitat hopes to raise US$ 10 million to help 25,000 families.
In Cambodia, 490 shelter repair and hygiene kits were distributed in flood-affected Pouk and Angkor Chum districts in Siem Reap province on 13 and 14 December, in Habitat for Humanity Cambodia’s first ever disaster response operation.
In the Philippines, Typhoon Nesat on 27 September, closely followed by Typhoon Nalgae on 1 October, battered Philippines’ largest island, Luzon, killing more than 100 people. Habitat for Humanity Philippines distributed 975 care kits in Navotas City, Metro Manila, on 5 October, and a further 185 shelter repair kits in Bicol region on 13 October.
In Thailand, 64 of its 76 provinces were affected by severe flooding. Emergency shelter kits were distributed by Habitat for Humanity Thailand in Bang Rakam sub-district of Phitsanulok province, and Yang Sai sub-district of Sukhothai province. Habitat Thailand has made a long-term commitment to help the country recover, and will be cleaning, repairing, rehabilitating or building new homes to support more than 5,000 families return to normalcy, with activities expected to start in January 2012.
In Vietnam, distribution of early relief clean-up and shelter repair kits will be distributed to an initial 270 families in Dong Thap province in early January 2012. These kits include items such as iron sheeting for roofing, tools and plastic water tanks. Habitat for Humanity Vietnam plans to assist more than 3,000 families devastated by flooding.
In India, Habitat for Humanity India distributed 169 emergency shelter kits to families affected by sudden flooding in the northeast state of Assam. Flooding also struck the states of Orissa and West Bengal later in the year, and Habitat India expects to assist with repairing 50 homes and rehabilitating 100 homes, with the hope of scaling up the response with additional funding.
Japan was struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake on 11 March. This, and the subsequent tsunami, killed more than 15,000 people. Habitat for Humanity Japan spent the immediate weeks and months after the disaster clearing mud and debris from people’s homes and community buildings or spaces in northern Japan. More recently, Habitat Japan has been distributing ‘home starter kits’ or winter items, like futon sets, electric heaters and carpets, to families moving in to temporary shelters.
The New Zealand city of Christchurch was struck by two 6.3-magntitude earthquakes in 2011; the first, on 22 February, left more than 180 people dead. The second, on 13 June, caused yet more damage in areas already affected. Habitat for Humanity New Zealand has more than 1,000 volunteers registered and is ready to commence repair operations in January 2012.