Lutheran World Relief provides critically needed water in the Philippines

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Baltimore, January 23, 2012

Lutheran World Relief is providing emergency water services to families who still have no access to clean drinking water more than a month after a devastating typhoon ripped through the Philippines island of Mindanao, killing 1,257 people and affecting more than a million.

The storm, which hit on December 16 and destroyed more than 14,000 homes, also disrupted water supply in the city of Cagayan de Oro. Repairs to the water supply system are underway, but families in the western part of the city will not have access to piped water until at least the end of January.

“I do not know where to get water now,” said Maryann Lagara, 24, a mother of two in the affected area, who lost her home in the storm. Speaking to an LWR staff member in early January, she reported that without assistance, she would be forced to get water from the nearby river, which is not safe to drink.

Thanks to a $31,500 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, LWR is now delivering water to 230 families in an impoverished area in western Cagayan de Oro through the end of January. Each family will receive 15 liters per person per day for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, in accordance with Sphere standards, the generally accepted best practices in humanitarian response. Families will also receive jerry cans for water storage, and training on how to properly clean and care for the cans.

“These are very poor families, many of whom lost their means of earning a livelihood as the result of the storm, so they have no way to purchase water even if it were readily available,” said Joanne Fairley, LWR’s regional director for Asia and the Middle East. “Thanks to this grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, they will have access to clean water until the city water system is repaired.”

In addition to emergency water delivery, LWR is reaching out to flood-affected communities with emergency cash assistance to buy food, medicine and other necessities. LWR is also distributing Quilts, Personal Care Kits, and School Kits from its warehouse in Mindanao, as well distributing other critically needed items to flood-affected families.

LWR is also planning a longer-term response that will include cash-for-work programs, provision of clean water, building shelter and rehabilitating homes for more than 900 families.