Humanitarian organizations Monday asked for more help for survivors of Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) amid a surge in dengue infections in typhoon-hit areas.
“We hope that the newly elected Chief Executives can continue their efforts to help homes and communities impacted by Super Typhoon Odette as there is still so much work to be done nearly 6 months since the typhoon devastated the Philippines. Reports showed an increasing number of dengue cases in typhoon-hit areas in Visayas and Mindanao, while there are also insufficient health workers to attend to the COVID-19 response and other essential health services,” said Lot Felizco, country director of Oxfam Pilipinas.
Dengue cases increased in Southern Leyte and Caraga, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) May 26 report. News reports also mentioned an increase in dengue cases in Central Visayas, with the Cebu City Health Department quoted as saying it may be due to widespread flooding caused by Super Typhoon Odette and Tropical Storm Agaton.
A dengue surveillance report from the Center for Health Development – CARAGA, shared with Oxfam Pilipinas, showed that from January 1 to May 14, 2022, 867 cases of dengue were reported. This is 287.1% more than in the same period last year.
“Local health officials warned earlier this year that Super Typhoon Odette could trigger a spike in dengue infections as flooded areas become mosquito breeding grounds. And we see that now. In Caraga, we are seeing a steep increase in dengue cases on Surigao and Dinagat islands, which are also among the hardest hit by Super Typhoon Odette,” Felizco said.
Celso Dulce, CARE’s director of integrated risk management, said this is why civil society and the government should continue to support typhoon survivors.
“As a Category 5 tropical cyclone, the destruction of Super Typhoon Odette really affected a large population – 12 million people in 10 regions of the country. Although the death toll is fortunately not as high as that of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, it has severely impacted the livelihoods and living conditions of survivors,” Dulce said.
Oxfam Pilipinas and CARE Philippines are among groups that have received an additional €10 million in funding from the European Union Humanitarian Aid (EU Aid) to facilitate life-saving relief and recovery efforts in areas affected by Super Typhoon Odette.
A portion of the funding (€5.8 million or P326 million) will be used to provide food security and livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, health, emergency education, protective assistance and other services to more than 300,000 people in Bohol. Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental and Palawan through a project implemented by CARE, ACCORD Inc., National Rural Women’s Coalition, Plan International and Action Against Hunger.
Another EU AID funded project (worth 3.8 million euros or P214 million) led by Oxfam Pilipinas and implemented jointly by Save the Children and Humanity & Inclusion (HI) together with local partners SIKAT and IDEALS aims to provide housing and educational support. Conservation activities and other benefits in kind for more than 115,000 survivors of Typhoon Odette in Bohol, Southern Leyte and Surigao del Norte.
Despite these efforts, CARE Philippines said more aid is needed in remote areas as survivors have received little or no assistance due to geographic and humanitarian barriers. This makes it even more difficult to recover from the multiple effects of the super typhoon.
Six months since the typhoon devastated parts of the Philippines, nearly 7,000 people are still at large in Regions VI, VII, VIII, MIMAROPA and Caraga, according to UN OCHA. The majority of them are in evacuation centers and around 650 are staying with relatives or friends in nearby villages. The report also found that food and nutritional support for displaced families has declined as relief efforts are now halted.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY AFTER 6 MONTHS
The non-governmental organizations are also concerned about restoring the livelihoods of the affected population.
“There is still debris on farmland from fallen coconut trees that have not been cleared and are already rotting 6 months after the typhoon. Land remains unusable, making it difficult for families dependent on agriculture,” said Suresh Murugesu, country director of Action Against Hunger Philippines. He added, “In other areas where we work, many fishermen whose boats were damaged by the typhoon are still unable to return to fishing as their main source of income.”
Some areas, such as Siargao Island, are already betting on the revival of local tourism. “We applaud such efforts and hope this will spur much-needed local economic growth as many people have lost their livelihoods to Typhoon Odette. In addition to the farmers who lost their crops and crops, many tourism workers were also suddenly unemployed,” said Chito Dugan, Executive Director of Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya Inc. (SIKAT Inc.).
Meanwhile, in Southern Leyte, Plan International Philippines has come across some families who have decided to invest their aid funds to get the local economy back on track. Since the financial assistance they received from the government was not enough to cover the cost of repairing their homes, some families in the area have decided to use these funds to restart their small businesses that were devastated by the typhoon bring.
MENTAL HEALTH TOLL
There are also other forms of support that are needed such as mental health and mental health services. According to UN OCHA, many adolescents and young people are “in great distress” after experiencing Super Typhoon Odette and Tropical Storm Agaton, which caused landslides last April.
The Oxfam Pilipinas, Save the Children and Humanity & Inclusion project, supported by EU AID, provides community-level mental health training and psychosocial support with HI as technical lead. Some of the psychosocial sessions aim to help teachers who are still recovering from the effects of the typhoon.
Felizco said it’s also important to note that the Philippines must brace for stronger typhoons. “On the occasion of World Environment Day this past June 5, we hope that the government will accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Continued carbon emissions will only exacerbate the effects of climate change and lead to more catastrophic typhoons,” said Felizco, who explained that warmer sea temperatures have led to more intense typhoons.
EU-AID funding enabled the organizations to provide cash assistance, shelter repair materials, training and educational support to affected communities. The project, led by Oxfam Pilipinas, includes providing teaching materials and multi-purpose classrooms in schools, among other forms of support. However, much remains to be done to help those displaced and others who are still suffering the physical, economic, emotional and psychological damage wrought by the disaster, the groups said.