Philippines: Typhoons Appeal no. MDRPH002 Operations Update no.6

Period covered by this Ops Update: 1 June 2007 - 31 January 2008;

Appeal target (current): CHF 9,878,867 (USD 9.67 million or EUR 6.28 million); Appeal coverage: 100%; <click here to go directly to the interim financial report

Appeal history:

- Preliminary emergency appeal launched on 2 October 2006 for CHF 5,704,261 (USD 4,563,408 or EUR 3,610,292) to assist 126,000 beneficiaries for three months.

- Appeal revised on 19 October 2006 to update plans and extend the operation timeframe to nine months.

- Appeal re-launched on 4 December 2006 to incorporate needs of successive typhoons, for a sum of CHF 8,833,789 (USD 7,318,798 or EUR 5,552,350) to assist 200,000 people for nine months.

- Appeal revised on 20 December 2006 for CHF 10,547,314 (USD 8,637,057 or EUR 6,587,671) to assist 1,030,000 beneficiaries for nine months.

- Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF): CHF 100,000 Sept. 2006; CHF 100,000 Nov. 2006)

Summary: The relentless onslaught of forceful typhoons, severe storms, destructive floods and landslides which affected the Philippines at the end of 2006, has left in its wake exceptional needs amongst the poverty-stricken community. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 1,547,590 individuals (some 309,518 families) in the Bicol region alone have been left without homes. The typhoons left a destructive wake in their path, with everything from food shortages to increased unemployment directly linked to the destruction of crops, fisheries and small businesses by the successive disasters. Key crops such as rice and natural resources like coconut lumber, nipa plants and bamboo which are essential for supporting recovery were mostly destroyed.

Despite this setback, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and the Federation have managed to provide 12,364 families in ten provinces with transitional shelter (which is expected to last from five to eight years) within the emergency operational timeframe of nine months. By the end of 2007, the emergency phase of the operation was over, with shelter and health services provided to all target beneficiaries. Rarely has a country delegation been able to support a national society in constructing houses in so short a period of time. The PNRC and Federation country office will also be calling for a donor meeting to showcase the quality of the houses that were constructed during the operation.

However, the size of the operation and its logistical complexity drew all of PNRC's capacity into the emergency activities and little space was left to better plan the capacity building of PNRC. While a number of weaknesses in of the logistical and financial processes of the national society were immediately addressed, these were only stop-gap measures to challenges that needed more attention to allow smooth implementation of the operation. However, many lessons learned should be addressed through a more structured review of disaster management and administrative procedures, and by large-scale training to ensure that the PNRC will be better able to cope with the many disasters they face on average in a year.

The PNRC is embarking on a massive recruitment process to ensure that it will have more volunteers in remote areas of the country. This process is vital to ensure the high quality provision of services for those most at risk in disaster. However, it also poses a formidable challenge for the national society in terms of overall volunteer management and training. These issues could not be addressed during the typhoon operation because the PNRC was stretched in supporting all those affected by the typhoons. The capacity building of the PNRC covered in this appeal needs to be continued in the future and will be covered through the 2008-09 appeal which has, to date, not received any funding.

An extension of the operation until 31 December 2008 should provide PNRC the possibility of reviewing and updating key systems and processes for service delivery in the future. This already disaster-prone country is also at considerable risk to the consequences of climate change and global warming. Indeed many of the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines are at high risk of becoming seriously affected, if not wiped out, by rising sea levels.

The situation

Prone to natural disasters such as landslides and floods, the Philippines also receives an average of 20 to 25 typhoons in a year. However, the island country was not prepared for the onslaught of the five forceful typhoons that hit the country back-to-back in the last quarter of 2006. The first of the five typhoons to strike the country was Mileyno (internationally known as Xangsane), which started as a tropical depression on 25 September and two days later, developed into a typhoon. Following Mileyno's onslaught, Paeng (Cimaron), Queenie (Chebi) and Reming (Durian) caused havoc and destruction in October and November. On 10 December, the fifth typhoon, Seniang (Utor) hit the country, affecting over 100,000 people in nine provinces. According to statistics from the United Nations OCHA, approximately 1,547,590 individuals (some 309,518 families) in the Bicol region alone had their homes destroyed by the typhoons.

While initial assessments indicated that only Albay, Camarines Sur, Cataduanes, Mindoro and Quezon were the primary provinces badly affected by Reming, results from a more comprehensive assessment conducted by the Federation's field assessment and coordination team (FACT) and the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) in mid-December showed that Aurora, Isabela, Laguna, Marinduque and Sorsogon were also affected by one or more of the five typhoons, and that shelter was needed for the people of these provinces.

Due to the continual and unpredictable onslaught of the typhoons, the original emergency appeal which was launched on 2 October was re-launched on 4 December and revised twice (on 19 October and 20 December) to incorporate the needs of all affected by the five typhoons.

Upon the re-launching of the emergency appeal, PNRC and the Federation initially agreed to provide approximately 75,000 individuals (some 15,000 beneficiary families) with shelter assistance in Albay, Aurora, Camarines Sur, Cataduanes, Isabela, Laguna, Marinduque, Mindoro, Quezon and Sorsogon.

However, as materials needed for the construction were scarce because of the typhoons, PNRC and the Federation revised the number of beneficiaries receiving shelter assistance to 60,000 individuals (approximately 12,000 families). By end September, however, PNRC and the Federation managed to provide approximately 74,521 individuals (12,364 beneficiary families) with materials and technical expertise to construct or repair transitional shelter that is typhoon-resistant and can last for at least five to eight years.

In addition to transitional shelters, beneficiary families from the provinces of Albay, Aurora, Camarines Sur, Cataduanes, Isabela, Quezon, Marinduque, Mindoro and Sorsogon also benefited from health and water and sanitation activities.

The emergency shelter and relief, water and sanitation, and health components of the operation are now closed, having achieved their respective objectives. Following this phase, the emphasis was to be placed on the PNRC's capacity building components, especially in disaster management, finance and logistics. Documentation was standardized to establish clear lines of communication, and operational procedures were reviewed with the assistance of the Federation.

However, while the national society and Federation have accomplished what they set out to do in terms of providing shelter and shelter repair to those in need, the operation is being extended until 31 December 2008 as there has been little time to build the national society's capacity within the given timeframe of the operation. Although emphasis had been placed on developing PNRC's capacity in logistics, planning, budgeting and reporting, it was discovered that in order to build the national society's capacity building in disaster management, more time is needed. The PNRC was severely overstretched by the operation and many of the planned activities could not be fulfilled within the given operation timeframe.

Furthermore, as the typhoons anticipated for the last half of 2007 did not occur as expected, the PNRC and the Federation were not able to evaluate the resistance and quality of the shelters against typhoons.

The remaining funds from the operation will be utilized to strengthen PNRC's capacity as well as to conduct a thorough evaluation of how sturdy the shelters are against typhoons, a process which is expected to take place later this year.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Philippines: Philippine National Red Cross: Corazon Alma De Leon (secretary-general), phone: +63 2 527 08 54, email: hsl@skynet.net or Benjamin Delfin II (manager of disaster management services), phone: + 63 2 444 0103; email: benjamindelfin@yahoo.com

In Philippines: Federation country office: Roger Bracke (head of country office), phone: +63 917 880 6844 (office) or +63 2 527 6227 (mobile); email: roger.bracke@ifrc.org

In Thailand: Federation Southeast Asia regional office: Alan Bradbury (acting head of regional office), phone: + 66 2 661 8201, email: alan.bradbury@ifrc.org or Michael Annear, head of regional disaster management unit, phone: + 66 2 661 8201, email: michael.annear@ifrc.org

In Malaysia: Asia-Pacific Zone office: Amy Gaver (disaster management delegate), email: amy.gaver@ifrc.org, phone: +603 9207 5724, fax: +60 3 2161 0670, mobile: +60 12 220 1174; or Jeremy Francis (regional logistics coordinator), email: jeremy.francis@ifrc.org, phone: +60 12 298 9752, fax: +60 3 2168 8573

In Geneva: Federation secretariat: Ms. Christine South (Asia Pacific operations coordinator), email: christine.south@ifrc.org, mobile: +41 79 308 9824, phone: +41 22 730 4529