Philippines: Typhoons Revised Appeal No. 26/2004

Originally published


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In Brief


Appeal history:

  • Preliminary appeal launched on 2 December 2004 for CHF 2,011,000 (USD 1,749,036 or EUR 1,316,738) for three months.
  • Final report is due in September 2005.
  • Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 150,000.

Summary: Since mid-November, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) has been in the forefront of response activities following a devastating series of typhoons and tropical depressions, which has brought widespread death and destruction to the northern and eastern provinces of this most disaster prone country. To date the Society has assisted some 110,000 people with distributions of food and household items, temporary shelter and health interventions. The International Federation's preliminary appeal, launched in early December, has been well supported with more than CHF two million pledged/received - but now much more assistance is essential. Building on priority needs and recommendations from the PNRC/Federation assessment teams, previous experience in relief operations in the Philippines and the capacity of the national society, the Federation is launching this revised appeal, jointly with the UN Flash Appeal, to support PNRC relief activities in the worst hit areas, particularly where humanitarian aid to date has been inadequate and affected households face an extended recovery period from the massive disruption to their lives.

The situation

Nearly 1,800 people have been killed or reported missing in eastern and northern provinces of the Philippines as a result of floods and landslides provoked by a series of storms since mid November. The combined impact of these events has caused significant loss of life and damage to the agricultural economy, severe disruption to daily life and infrastructure in the country. According to the latest government report, the disaster has affected some three million people, including 650,000 displaced; 939 people are dead, 837 still missing and 752 injured. Damage to crops, fishing and infrastructure is estimated at 4.69 billion pesos (around 96 million Swiss francs). The vast majority of the casualties were caused when tropical depression Winnie set off landslides and flooding at the end of November that enveloped the coastal towns of Real, Infanta and General Nakar in Quezon province.

Development of the storms
  • Typhoon Muifa lashed southern Philippines in a retracting movement that affected both the northern and southern portions of Luzon. The worst hit area of the typhoon was the province of Mindoro Oriental where over 2,000 houses were destroyed, leaving the agriculture-based economy in ruins.
  • Tropical depressions Merbok and Winnie brought torrential rains in eastern Luzon which caused hundreds of landslides in the upland areas and brought cascading mud and debris to the towns of Infanta, Real, and Nakar, province of Quezon. Almost 80 percent of the infrastructure of these three towns was damaged, which were also cut off from Manila by landslides and collapsed bridges. Electricity, potable water supply and communications systems are all seriously affected. In the adjacent Aurora province, remote villages were isolated by floods and landslides.
  • Due to the destruction already wreaked by Muifa, Merbok and Winnie, the fourth weather disturbance in the series, typhoon Nanmadol, with 220-240 kilometer per hour winds brought comparatively little further damage and passed swiftly through the Philippines. Nevertheless, the devastation remains huge.
Major impact1
Houses totally destroyed
Houses partially destroyed
Families affected
People affected
People displaced
Road networks disrupted
Bridges rendered impassable
Hectares of crops and fisheries affected
Schools affected
Health facilities destroyed

The Philippine armed forces and coast guards were actively involved in the search, rescue, evacuation of the affected population to evacuation centres, conduct of relief and recovery operations in the severely devastated areas. Rescue efforts have ended despite the discovery on 9 December of four survivors who were buried in a collapsed building for 11 days in Real, one of the worst hit towns of Quezon province. According to the Department of Social Welfare, there is enough food to prevent starvation and no sign of epidemics. The main concern, however, is to ensure that relief efforts are reaching the most remote areas, particularly villages that have been cut off for weeks due to disruption of road communications.

With the end of the search and rescue phase, the government and aid agencies are shifting their attention towards relief and recovery. Although half of the road communications are restored, it will still take weeks to restore power to the worst-hit areas including Quezon and Aurora provinces, clear roads and rebuild bridges in all affected areas. With more people returning to their destroyed properties, while basic infrastructure, including health facilities are not rehabilitated, fears of increasing incidents of waterborne disease and an outbreak of malaria are growing. The department of health has deployed assessment and medical teams to Quezon and Aurora provinces and provided medical supplies to affected regions and conducted health surveillance and environmental sanitation.

The government is stepping up rehabilitation efforts as private and foreign donations are coming in, sufficient to provide relief supplies for those affected by the storm. Around 87 million pesos (around CHF 1.7 million) have been used for immediate disaster relief and another PHP 500 million (CHF 10.2 million) set for additional relief and rehabilitation.

The needs

Top priorities for assistance identified by joint Philippines National Red Cross (PNRC)/Federation assessment teams, PNRC chapters, UNDAC and the authorities are:

Food and household items: The sudden onslaught of mudslides and flashfloods did not provide ample time for residents in the affected communities to save their belongings. Almost all material possessions, which may have taken some families a lifetime to establish were buried and carried by rampaging mud and water. There was almost nothing to salvage in places where mud is up to four feet deep. Most of the people who have completely lost their houses and material goods - some 650,000 are displaced according to government estimates - are now totally dependent on relatives and friends with whom most have taken temporary refuge. It would be impossible for those who provided refuge to sustain these families in the long run. A few other families have taken refuge in evacuation centres. With the devastation of their dwelling and compounded by the loss of livelihood, people are now totally dependent on external support. These people are in need of food and basic family starter kits consisting of items such as cotton blankets, sleeping mats, cooking and kitchen utensils, buckets and mosquito nets.

PNRC has distributed through local chapters some food, household items and used clothing to the affected people along with relief items from the government. Other local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also mobilized their resources for distribution of assorted food and non-food items.

Shelter: Most of the houses destroyed - more than 32,000 - were made of locally available organic materials (wood) which collapsed due to the onslaught of mudslides, flashfloods, and hurricane-strength winds. Most of these houses belonged to the marginalized sectors of the community, comprising fishermen from coastal villages and peasant farmers from the upland areas. The devastation has erased almost all semblance of investment of these marginalized sectors both in their housing and material commodities. Construction of temporary shelters in previous high-risk dwelling sites must be discouraged. Several of the houses destroyed were located at the banks of major waterways. Hazard/risk mapping will be needed to ensure that communities will not be reconstructing shelters in high-risk areas. Temporary shelters made of organic materials are needed, with galvanized iron roofing and carpentry tool kits to be used for the construction of temporary shelters.

PNRC has sent some plastic sheeting to Mindoro Oriental, the first heavily affected province. This is insufficient to meet the needs. PNRC has successful shelter construction projects in Luzon and community-based disaster reduction programmes in the country. Lessons learned and experience gained will also provide a new direction on the dynamics of working with communities and partner agencies. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines has also included the shelter component in their international appeal. As yet, there has been limited coordination with other international NGOs in this sector.

Water and sanitation: The water supply was disrupted or contaminated in many affected areas. Although repair works are ongoing and no epidemic/disease outbreaks are reported, there is a major concern on the quality of water supply and inadequate sanitation facilities in evacuation centres and affected communities. The provision of basic hygiene items and water purification tablets is essential.

Health services: There is a scarcity of health personnel, medicines, medical equipment and supplies for common emergencies across the disaster zone. There is a need for a comprehensive health assessment and primary health services. The lack of water and sanitation facilities and/or good hygienic practice and limited presence of organized barangay2 health workers in most of the affected areas are posing increasing health risks. There is an urgent need to rehabilitate some of the primary health facilities and services and conduct community health awareness education to prevent malaria and diarrhoeal diseases.

On 11 December, a team of PNRC medical volunteers from St. Luke's medical centre went to Aurora province. The volunteers visited the villages in Baler municipality with barangay health workers. On the same day, another team of five PNRC health volunteers left for Infanta in Quezon province. They have set up a health station at the Red Cross camp and are providing services such as first aid, community health surveillance, nutritional surveillance of target population, assistance to doctors from the department of health. The team comprises two critical care nurses, two recently graduated nurses and a volunteer from one of the Red Cross chapters. Assessment reports from the two teams are being compiled. Initial findings indicate urgent need for food supplies and mineral water. The headquarters has responded by arranging for medicines to be airlifted to Infanta.

In consultation with NDCC, PNRC has agreed to undertake rehabilitation of two health centres and 22 health stations in Quezon and Aurora provinces. To ensure access to primary health care services during the rehabilitation period, PNRC will establish 12 temporary dispensary units, staffed with local nurses and volunteers, and equipped with basic medicines, materials and equipment, including materials and equipment for health education activities. The dispensary units will provide basic primary health care services and operate as centres for community health activities, working closely with volunteers from their area. In addition, PNRC will establish 6 mobile medical teams to provide basic preventive and curative health services for the affected barangays. The medical teams will be staffed with local doctors and nurses and will visit the dispensary units on a rotation schedule.

Disaster response capacity: There are no organized barangay disaster action teams to assist and/or lead the affected population in managing their situation in the aftermath of the disaster. Accordingly it is essential to establish a team of trained disaster response volunteers in affected communities and particularly to improve the field assessment and reporting system of the PNRC local chapters and to integrate the experience into a more comprehensive training curriculum for the chapter disaster response teams.

Red Cross and Red Crescent response so far

Responding to the disaster in the aftermath of the storms and consequential flashfloods and landslides, the PNRC staff and volunteers are in the forefront of one of the country's most extensive disaster response operations of recent times. The PNRC chairman has taken a lead role in mobilizing resources for the relief operation and planning for the recovery phase. With additional international and local resources coming in, the PNRC has stepped up its extensive relief operations. Ten disaster response teams have so far been sent to assist with the relief operation and assess priority needs of the displaced families in the worst hit areas of Luzon, Mindoro Oriental, Aurora, Quezon, Nueva Ecjia and Camarine provinces. Relief supplies including food stuffs, sleeping materials, kitchen utensils and medicines have been transported either by truck, boat or helicopter, in coordination with the NDCC, Philippine Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.

As of 14 December, through various chapters and local volunteer network, the PNRC has assisted more than 21,800 families (about 110,000 people) in over 500 barangays. A total of 2,310 rice sacks, 988 cartons of noodles, 361 cartons of sardines, 848 cartons of assorted biscuits, 870 BP-5 compact food, 172 sacks of used clothing, 6,664 blankets, 150 mosquito nets, 1,850 plastic mats and 65 pieces of plastic sheeting have been dispatched to 17 local chapters including Aurora, Bulacan, Cagayan, Caloocan, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Ifugao, Isabela, Laguna, La Union, Mindoro Oriental, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, Pampanga, Pasay City, Quezon - Lucena City, Quirino and Rizal.

Chapter staff and volunteers were also involved in the search, rescue and retrieval operations together with the Philippine Army. Local PNRC chapters in adjacent provinces trekked through extensive landslides blocking the roads to reach the isolated towns in Quezon and Aurora to conduct emergency medical response. Some medical supplies were transported to Quezon, Nueva Ecija and Aurora provinces. Volunteers and disaster response teams operating in the affected areas also conducted psychosocial support services for those families traumatized by the disaster. The society is mobilizing mobile health teams to be deployed in General Nakar, Infanta and Real, with the aim of mobilizing community health volunteers to assess the situation at the evacuation centres and to provide hygiene and health education. The PNRC is using the action plan of the health ministry as a reference tool to ensure coordinated response.

In Manila, the PNRC mobilized two ambulances and initially worked with several staff from the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) as part of a daily ambulance service at the airbase of the Philippine Air Force by unloading and providing care to injured people being flown in by helicopters from the disaster areas. The two-member team from the MRCS has been on duty with the PNRC safety services at the airbase, providing support to medical evacuation. In Nakar, PNRC is distributing bottled water to the affected population.

With over 800 people missing, the PNRC has deployed tracing officers in the affected region in order to assess the tracing and needs to restore family links. However, some areas are still isolated and cannot be reached due to landslides and rockslides. The society is collecting lists from evacuation centres and hospitals and is establishing a master list of dead and missing persons. The society is also accepting tracing requests from national societies and individuals overseas. Discussions are underway with the ICRC on setting up a family links web page.

There has been a strong response to the preliminary appeal, which, including funds pledge/received just exceeds the initial target of CHF 2,011,000. Among contributing governments and Red Cross and Red Crescent societies are those from: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland. The PNRC is also receiving a significant number of direct donations - including AusAID, Spanish Red Cross/ECHO and USAID - with Southeast Asian neighbor the Malaysian Red Crescent being the first national society to respond to the disaster with an immediate deployment of qualified staff and a cash contribution of USD 10,0003. (also please refer to annex 2 for a provisional plan for utilization of major foreign cash donations (by chapter and households).


The NDCC is charged with heading the response to the disaster, in conjunction with the Defense Department. The NDCC is supported by the UN in-country team and a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team. Both the Federation and the PNRC participated in the UNDAC assessments in the affected areas, and, accordingly, this appeal reflects the joint outcome of the assessments. Federation representatives in Manila are attending meetings of NDCC and are liaising with the ECHO office in Manila and also the UNDAC team.

The Spanish Red Cross, which has bilateral development projects with the PNRC, was involved in the revision of the appeal to ensure coordination and complementarity between all Red Cross Red Crescent response and rehabilitation activities in the wake of the disaster. The Federation delegation and the Spanish Red Cross will work closely together to support the overall PNRC relief and rehabilitation operation. The contributions which are channeled through the Spanish Red Cross (e.g. ECHO funding) will be used to cover the needs outlined in this revised appeal. Plans are on the way to fully integrate technical delegates from the Spanish Red Cross in the Federation delegation. The Federation delegation will support PNRC and the Spanish Red Cross to fulfil operational and logistical requirements. To streamline the operation organization, the PNRC has set up an operational center (OC) in the headquarters where all departments involved in the operation are present. All information from the field, including assessment and distribution reports are captured by the OC staff and build the basis of the overall action and distribution plan.


Security is of concern in some of the areas where the PNRC will undertake the response operation and the Federation delegation will be in close consultation with the ICRC, the UN and the government to ensure the safety of the personnel operating in the area and to also safeguard relief supplies.


1 NDCC (National Disaster Coordination Council) comprehensive damage assessment report of 9 December 2004. With more assessment information coming in and a new landslide in Camarines Sur on 13 December, more devastation will be recorded. Casualty figures from various sources are still not coherent.

2 The barangay is the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines and is typically composed of some 50-100 families or 250-500 people.

3 In addition, as of 13 December 2004, the following have also provided significant support to the appeal in direct contributions to the PNRC (all figures in CHF equivalent): Agencia Espanola Cooperacion International (with the Spanish government) (90,300, in kind), AusAID (179,000); Caltex Philippines (20,500); Ford Group (31,800); GLOBE Pasaload (12,300); ICRC (5,700); Murant Phils. Foundation (30,800); Office of the Senate (5,100); Philip Morris (41,000); Smart (20,500); USAID (113,000). Note: list not exhaustive.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In the Philippines: Victor Liozo, Secretary General, Philippine National Red Cross,, phone +632 5278384, fax +632 5270887; Floyd Barnaby, Head of Delegation,, phone +63 2 5278386/5270866, fax: +63 2 5270857;

In Bangkok: Dr Ian Wilderspin, Head of Regional Disaster Risk Management Unit, or Jenny Iao, Regional Liaison and Reporting Delegate, Southeast Asia Regional Delegation, Bangkok, Thailand,, phone +66 2 6408211, fax +66 2 6408220;

In Geneva: Charles Evans, Asia-Pacific Regional Officer, email, phone +41 22 7304320, fax +41 22 730 0395.

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