Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 1 | January-February 2017
• Typhoon Nock-Ten-affected regions sustain heavy damage to agriculture and infrastructure as humanitarian actors find ways to further assist government recovery efforts.
• A Catanduanes community finds that preparedness and evacuation measures can achieve zero casualties.
• FAO augments government assistance to Typhoon Sarika and Haima-affected farmers.
• Flash flooding displaces thousands in Mindanao and Visayas.
• An inclusive dialogue with stakeholders ensures a safe and dignified return for Lumads in Mindanao.
• 2017 weather patterns predict a weak La Niña and normal rainfall for the Philippines.
# of displaced persons* 368
# of damaged or destroyed houses* 393,411
# of affected farmers** 41,298
*(Source: *DSWD as of 24 January **FAO as of 4 November)*
Flash flooding in Mindanao and Visayas
# of IDPs 92,481 (Source: DSWD as of 30 January)
# of IDPs in transitional sites 11,418
(Source: Zamboanga City Social Welfare and Development Office as of 16 January)
Typhoon Nock-Ten preparedness and response
Violent winds, intense rains and massive flooding were not the gifts Filipinos were expecting as Typhoon Nock-Ten (locally named Nina) slammed into the Philippines on Christmas Day, disrupting holiday celebrations for millions of people.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 185 km/h and gusts of up to 255 km/h,
Nock-Ten made landfall in Catanduanes province and in seven other areas, leaving a trail of destruction which resulted in 13 deaths and several still missing. More than 393,000 houses were damaged, of which more than 98,000 are destroyed. Up to PhP6 billion (US$122 million) worth of agricultural crops and infrastructure were destroyed in the affected areas of the Bicol Region.
With the country still recovering from Typhoon Haima (locally named Lawin) which battered northern and central Luzon in October, Nock-Ten again tested the response capacities of government and humanitarian organizations. Disaster management officials were pressed to convince the people to abandon their Christmas celebrations and head for evacuation shelters. More than 400,000 people heeded the call and were evacuated across 18 provinces after local officials imposed forced evacuations and offered enticements such as free Christmas dinners at evacuation sites.
Good practices and lessons learned from typhoon emergencies
Disaster preparedness and response capacities of the Government have significantly increased over the years. The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), through OCHA, is an active participant in the Government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) pre-disaster risk assessment meetings, contributing to better coordination and a greater understanding of the Government’s planning scenario and preparedness actions.
To support the Government in its response to Typhoon Nock-Ten, the HCT took stock of in-country pre-positioned relief items that can be readily mobilized, mapped the presence of humanitarian organizations and partners in the likely affected areas, and developed profiles of areas impacted. The timely information – in the form of updates, infographics, and an assessment report of the humanitarian situation – was widely shared among partners.
Building on this experience, the HCT is strengthening its inter-agency preparedness through contingency planning. The process looks at the operational response to a catastrophic typhoon scenario, reviewing the members’ roles and responsibilities. The exercise sees cluster lead agencies taking an active role in coordinating preparedness efforts, ensuring close coordination with their government counterparts. The planning process also provides the HCT with an understanding of in-country capacity and operational gaps. The plan is in its final stages and includes the development of a prepopulated template for a flash appeal which can be quickly finalised if the government requests international assistance.
Coordinating with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the NDRRMC was valuable especially in clarifying the Government’s operational policy for the typhoon responses at the national and local levels. As a result, the HCT was able to rapidly deploy field teams, which were instrumental in gaining first-hand information of the situation on the ground and placed it in a position to assist with coordination and planning the response.