Philippines: EU releases close to € 330 000 to support victims of Typhoons Sarika and Haima

Bangkok, 20th December 2016 – The European Commission is providing € 328 000 in humanitarian aid funding to channel emergency relief to communities affected by two powerful typhoons which struck the country back to back recently, Typhoons Sarika and Haima (locally known as ‘Karen’ and ‘Lawin’, respectively). The aid will focus on providing assistance to meet the most pressing needs of 17 000 people in some of the worst hit provinces, namely Aurora, Cagayan, Catanduanes, Kalinga and Nueva Vizcaya.

“With two intense storms lashing them one right after the other, the people living in these areas have suffered extensive losses”, said Pedro-Luis Rojo Garcia, Head of the regional office of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) for East, South East Asia and the Pacific region. “Not only have homes and belongings been destroyed, but crops and livelihoods have also been severely impacted. This contribution from the EU will help in ensuring that these communities get back on their feet at the earliest possible”.

Separated by only a few days, Typhoons Sarika and Haima triggered strong winds, torrential rains and extensive flooding across six regions in the country’s northern Luzon Island. According to government data, the powerful tropical systems combined affected over 1.8 million people, and damaged hundreds of thousands of houses, many of which have been reduced to rubble. The storms also killed many livestock and destroyed huge swathes of agricultural lands, crippling the livelihoods of those depending on agriculture.

The EU-funded assistance will provide much-needed support to heavily impacted communities through the distribution of both food and non-food items such as tarpaulins, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene kits, food packs and jerry cans. Multi-purpose cash grants will also be delivered to targeted families who lack essential resources, allowing them to decide what to spend the money on, depending on their most pressing needs. Provided certain criteria are met, such mechanisms have proven to be the most efficient in the restoration of livelihoods after natural disasters.

Background Typhoon Sarika (locally called ‘Karen’) made landfall over the province of Aurora on 16 October, only three days before the northern region was pounded again by Typhoon Haima (locally known as ‘Lawin’), which also made landfall in the northern Cagayan province as a Category 4 storm. Packing winds of up to 225 kilometres per hour, the latter is considered the most powerful storm to hit the country since Typhoon Haiyan (locally called ‘Yolanda’) caused large-scale devastation across the country in late 2013.

Due to its geographical location, the Philippines typically witnesses more than 20 typhoons every year. This year, Luzon Island, home to both Aurora and Cagayan, has been lashed by three devastating typhoons within a span of only four weeks. Only a month earlier, the northernmost Batanes province was battered by Tropical Storm Meranti (locally known as ‘Ferdie’), which had prompted the government to declare a state of calamity in the province for the first time in 20 years. At the time, the European Union had already released € 300 000 in initial humanitarian aid for the affected communities.

Contact Pierre Prakash, Regional Information Officer for Asia and the Pacific, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO): Pierre.Prakash@echofield.eu