“We are working against the clock to get food and drinking water to the local population”

typhoon Rai - Action Against Hunger

Photo: Action Against Hunger, Philippines

  • Typhoon Rai has affected more than 1,800,000 people and caused at least 375 deaths in the Philippines. According to local authorities, this is the worst typhoon to hit the country this year.
  • Action Against Hunger is responding to the needs of affected populations, organising food distributions and facilitating access to water and sanitation.

21 December 2021 – Getting water, food and shelter to an isolated population is essential. Despite serious access problems – with blocked roads, entire areas flooded and telecommunications cut off – Action Against Hunger is working with the country’s authorities and United Nations agencies to assist people affected by Typhoon Rai. Rai is the most devastating typhoon of 2021 in the Philippines, and has so far left more than 375 people dead and hundreds of thousands of families homeless.

“The Philippines is affected by approximately twenty typhoons a year. However, with gusts of more than 195 km per hour and huge swathes of the country damaged, Typhoon Rai reminds us of the dramatic Typhoon Hayan of 2013. Disasters have significantly exceeded the response capacity of the population and local government. It is essential to send emergency aid, especially food and drinking water, if we do not want the emergency to grow and evolve into a health problem,” explains Noelia Monge, head of the emergency team of Action Against Hunger.

The super typhoon has particularly affected the islands of Surigao Dinagat and Mindanao. The chief executive of the city of Surigao has estimated that his city is 100% damaged and many areas of the Caraga region, a region northwest of Mindanao, are totally flooded and some 36,303 people from 134 villages have been affected.
According to the United Nations, more than 630,000 people have been forced from their homes by the typhoon. More than 7.5 billion calories and 10.7 million litres of water a day are needed to feed the affected population, and 111 billion square meters of space is needed to provide shelter.

First steps in the emergency: setting priorities

Action Against Hunger teams are acting right now. On the island of Mindanao, the charity’s teams prepared for the emergency responses by delivering hygiene and water kits, and basic material kits.
The main activities focus on:

Distributing food: With access blocked, homes flooded and facilities damaged, it has been difficult for people to get food. Early reports from the city of Surigao indicate that the public market has been damaged by the typhoon, so we have been distributing cooked meals and ready-to-cook food.

Rehabilitating access to water and sanitation: It is difficult to access safe drinking water so Action Against Hunger is repairing water pipes, water and sanitation systems and constructing latrines. The distribution of hygiene kits is essential at this stage, given the high risk of transmission of infectious diseases.
Offering shelter: Early reports indicate that families may have lost household essentials. With restrictions and rules to prevent the spread of Covid, pressure is mounting to ensure safe distancing is respected and therefore more space is needed. Families who are able to resettle in their homes need temporary shelter materials while home repairs are being carried out.

Limiting a potential health crisis: Damaged or inaccessible health facilities significantly increase pressures on the healthcare system. Unfortunately, this is happening while the country is still reeling from the effects of Covid. The risk of contracting infectious diseases can increase dramatically following floods. Mass displacement and limited available space for evacuation sites could also mean increased transmission of Covid.

Action Against Hunger has a long history of emergency interventions in the Philippines, as well as working on early recovery and development systems in the country.