UMCOR expands response to typhoon-hit Philippines

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The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Philippines is expanding its disaster response efforts to provide additional relief and rehabilitation support to un-reached and underserved communities hardest-hit by Typhoons Ketsana and Parma.

Through a recent appeal issued by UMCOR's partner Action By Churches Together (ACT), UMCOR is working with ACT members Christian Aid, Lutheran World Relief, and National Council of Churches in the Philippines to coordinate responses and share vital information about assessments, materials and outputs. The collaborative effort is creating cross-learning opportunities for all partners involved in the response.

UMCOR Philippines will provide food relief, shelter materials, livelihood support, micro-credit assistance, and business development services to 9,000 survivors in Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and Zambales provinces.

"We are privileged to work with reputable and diverse relief organizations that have a common longstanding commitment to serving others during times of disaster," said Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR's international disaster response executive. "Each partner contributes its own piece to the wider mission of UMCOR-to alleviate human suffering and be in ministry with the poor."

Impact of Typhoons

Typhoons Ketsana and Parma struck the Philippines in late September and October and affected more than 8.4 million people, including one million school age children. More than 255,000 homes have been damaged, and the loss of agricultural land, including livestock and fisheries has been valued at $496,964,000, according the ACT appeal report. Many of the people affected by the typhoons were poor farmers, fisherman, street vendors, or pedicab and tricycle drivers who completely lost their already minimal sources of income because of the flood.

"There are several communities that have not yet received relief support," said Crutchfield. "Our primary focus is to get to these families and provide them with sustainable livelihood and micro-credit assistance so that they can return to their normal lives."

Local Partner Support

Through the ACT appeal, UMCOR Philippines, working with local partners Harris Memorial College, Union Theological Seminary, Asuncion A. Perez Memorial Center, Inc., and Kaptiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc., will provide comprehensive relief operations to reach vulnerable communities that are still awaiting assistance.

UMCOR Philippines will provide emergency food relief, sustainable livelihood recovery and micro-credit opportunities for vulnerable families, including small farmers and fishermen whose livelihoods were disrupted by the disaster. About 4,000 people will receive supplemental food relief packages that include rice, dried fish, sardines, corn beef, sugar, salt and oil, as well as non-food items such as blankets, toothpaste, soap, and water purification tablets. 3,000 families will receive five kilos of rice, seeds, boats for transporting goods and people through the floodwaters, shelter materials to repair homes, and micro-credit support to restart businesses and restore loss of livestock and farms. An additional 2,000 survivors will receive help with business development services such as trainings in entrepreneurship and marketing.

UMCOR's partner Union Theological Seminary is providing psycho-social assistance to women, the elderly and children who were greatly traumatized by the typhoons. A generous $40,000 grant from UMCOR partner Muslim Aid, and in-kind contributions of water-purification tablets, units and filters from GlobalMedic will support additional relief activities not covered under the ACT appeal.

UMCOR Philippines, Ready to Respond

UMCOR Philippines' initial emergency response provided bottled water, blankets, canned fish and rice that were distributed immediately after Ketsana struck in September. UMCOR Philippines, which officially opened its doors in July and hosted a disaster response training, was immediately put to the response test when Typhoon Kiko caused widespread flooding in Zambales, a province in the Central Luzon. UMCOR Philippines staff led by Ciony Eduarte is working tirelessly with local church disaster response coordinators, volunteers, and on-the-ground partners in procuring, assembling and distributing basic food supplies to areas most in need.

How You Can Help

In the wake of the typhoons, communities in the Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna provinces remain flooded and without relief assistance. Nearly 40,000 families are still living in evacuation centers. Your support is needed to provide a long-term comprehensive response to this disaster. Please give generously to Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235.