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UN, partner-nations: Post-‘Odette’ recovery work carries on

HALF a year after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) left a trail of devastation in 11 of the country’s 17 regions, the United Nations (UN) and humanitarian partners in the Philippines have provided life-saving assistance to over a million people.

Since April and following the announcement by the national government of the response phase’s end, the humanitarian community has since been supporting local governments to implement early recovery activities.

To mark six months since the howler’s onslaught, UN-Philippines has just launched the Typhoon Odette Six Months On Photo exhibit at the Instituto Cervantes in Intramuros, Manila.

The retrospective, hosted by the Embassy of Spain, the Instituto Cervantes and AECID, in partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the Humanitarian Community (HC), seeks to raise awareness of the increase in the occurrence of disasters as a direct impact of climate change and its effects on the development of societies. 

It will be open to the public until August 20 in observance of World Humanitarian Day on August 19.

“The HC will continue its support to affected communities to ensure that progress made in the last six months is not rolled back,” UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez cited a recent report of the OCHA, which said damaged houses still number over 2.1 million.

The revised Humanitarian Needs and Priorities plan, which was launched by the HC Country Team in the Philippines on February 2, committed to aid 840,000 people in Caraga, Southern Leyte, Cebu and Bohol.

Shelter assistance, as one of the main needs, was provided to more than 210,000 typhoon-affected households.

To date close to 66,000 families have received kitchen items, sleeping kits, and lighting items. However, more shelter-repair kits and other materials for the rebuilding of homes are needed.

Over 3,000 individuals remain displaced in Regions 4-A (Calabarzon), Region 4-B (Mimaropa), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), and Caraga. Relocating these internally displaced persons or IDPs needs resettlement sites to be prepared.

Challenges still present

GONZALEZ noted that in the last six months, over 1.2 million people have received livelihood support, particularly for agriculture.

Humanitarian partners have started implementing cash-for-work activities in Bohol and Southern Leyte. These have helped beneficiaries restart fishing and farming livelihoods.

However, restarting agricultural activities is hampered by a number of factors, including the unfinished clearing of debris left by “Odette,” and challenges in operating farming equipment due to oil-price increases.

The UN official said some 84,000 health-care workers have been deployed and have served in temporary health facilities. However, health facilities remain semifunctional in many areas, and communities continue to require support to access health services.

Close to 46,000 children aged zero to 59 months have been screened for acute malnutrition. The quality and coverage of services for the early detection and treatment of life-threatening acute malnutrition in early childhood needs to be improved and prioritized.

Earlier, in the response effort, humanitarian partners deployed 562 trucks to deliver relief items.

While logistics operations for the typhoon have ended, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has requested humanitarian organizations to move cargo in response to Tropical Storm “Agaton.” Said goods were shipped into areas also affected by “Odette,” including the delivery of government-supplied food, hygiene items, and family or sleeping kits, among others.

Global aid

THE UN country coordinator acknowledged the support of donors such as the United States Agency for International Development, the European Union, Japan, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, Australia, Canada and Spain for enabling the UN and over 260 humanitarian partners to address urgent humanitarian needs and implement early recovery programs through more than 15,000 activities in food security and nutrition; protection; shelter; water, sanitation and hygiene; education; health; as well as camp coordination and camp management.

He said while long-term and sustained recovery will be the focus of support to the government until the end of the year, the HC will reinforce measures to strengthen preparedness and build resilience against future shocks.

“Humanitarian partners will continue to work closely with local authorities to pilot new approaches, such as anticipatory action,” Gonzalez shared.

“As nations continue to address the different impacts of the global pandemic, the reality is that several hazards may strike at once. The Philippines has already experienced responding to catastrophes in a Covid-19 crisis scenario, amid difficult access to resources due to the war in Ukraine” he added. “This is forcing all of us to change the way operations are being conducted.”

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