Philippines: Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 1 | February 2019
• Tropical Depression Usman brought intense and torrential rains on 29 December, triggering landslides and flooding in the Bicol, CALABARZON, Eastern Visayas and MIMAROPA region. Landslides in Albay and Camarines Sur were particularly devastating. Local actors led the response and are seeking ways to improve early warning and evacuation mechanisms to prevent future loss of life.
• Nearly two years after the Marawi conflict, the Government continues to lead the humanitarian response, track internally displaced persons (IDPs), and build temporary and permanent shelters.
• The Humanitarian Country Team has renewed its commitment to protect the rights of Mindanao IDPs and ensure their safety and dignity.
• In brief: a second plebiscite of the Bangsamoro Organic Law took place on 6 February in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato. Lanao del Norte has rejected the inclusion of six municipalities in the new Bangasamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
Lessons from TD Usman: supporting strong local capacity in typhoon response
Tropical depression (TD) Usman brought intense and torrential rains as it made landfall on 29 December in Borongan, Samar. Enhanced by the northeast monsoon winds, the rains lasted for several days, triggering multiple landslides and widespread flooding in the regions of Bicol, Calamba-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (CALABARZON), Eastern Visayas, and Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan (MIMAROPA).
Homes, schools and rice fields were buried by mud, with over 150 confirmed dead and 26 missing, mostly due to landslides. Over 1 million people were affected, and as of 20 January, agricultural losses are approaching PhP2 billion (US$37 million), with over 56,000 farmers and fisherfolk affected, according to the Department of Agriculture and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). More than 23,000 metric tons of rice, corn and high-value crops and over 54,000 ha of farmland are estimated to have been affected. Over 4,000 houses were destroyed and 32,000 damaged, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Albay and Camarines Sur landslides
Landslides in the areas of Tiwi in the province of Albay, as well as in Buhi and Sagnay, in the province of Camarines Sur were particularly devastating. As of 1 February, both Bicol and MIMAROPA regions were still under the state of calamity.
The people of Albay are still recovering from the Mayon Volcano eruption in January 2018, where over 90,000 people were evacuated from their homes and agriculture, properties and livelihood destroyed. The prompt evacuation and response of local authorities led to zero casualties during the volcano's eruption, which lasted several months.
Local government response and humanitarian support
The province of Albay worked successfully to address the varied humanitarian needs of the affected communities. In coordination with the provincial disaster risk reduction management offices (DRRMOs) of Albay and Camarines Sur, OCHA deployed staff on 2 January to liaise with the local government and humanitarian field partners, particularly in Bicol, where the number of casualties and displaced communities were higher. The short-term deployment was on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team-Inter Cluster Coordination Group (HCT-ICCG), composed of in-country UN agencies, international and local NGOs, and the private sector. OCHA conducted a series of damage assessment consultations with the displaced communities and local authorities in the municipalities of Tiwi, Albay as well as Sagnay and Buhi in Camarines Sur.
A long-standing partnership with the DRRMOs of Albay and Camarines Sur including the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) and the Environment Disaster Management and Emergency Response Office's (EDMERO), aided coordination with the government and other humanitarian agencies in Bicol in the overall response and understanding the implications of possible prolonged displacement of the evacuees.