Philippines - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 5 hours 21 min ago

World: Zika Situation Report: Zika and potential complications, 12 February 2016

17 hours 30 min ago
Source: World Health Organization Country: American Samoa, Barbados, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Dominican Republic, Easter Island (Chile), Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Gabon, Guadeloupe (France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Maldives, Martinique (France), Mexico, New Caledonia (France), Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Martin (France), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World

1. HIGHLIGHTS

 WHO has called for a coordinated and multisectoral response through an inter-agency Strategic Response Framework focusing on response, surveillance and research.

 39 countries have reported locally acquired circulation of the virus since January 2007. Geographical distribution of the virus has steadily expanded.

 Six countries (Brazil, French Polynesia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Suriname) have reported an increase in the incidence of cases of microcephaly and/or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in conjunction with an outbreak of the Zika virus. Puerto Rico and Martinique have reported cases of GBS associated with Zika virus infection without an increase of incidence. No scientific evidence to date confirms a link between Zika virus and microcephaly or GBS.

 Women’s reproductive health has been thrust into the limelight with the spread of the Zika virus. The latest evidence suggests that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may be linked to microcephaly in newborn babies.

 WHO advice on travel to Zika-affected countries includes advice for pregnant women as well as women who are trying to become pregnant and their sexual partners.

2.- SITUATION OVERVIEW

 WHO has led partners in the creation of a Strategic Response Framework (SRF) for early response activities to the Zika virus epidemic and potential associated neurological complications to be carried out in the next six months. It comprises activities in coordination, surveillance, community development, vector control, child and maternal health, public health research, and epidemiological research and development. WHO is currently finalizing an overview of urgent needs and requirements for the Zika response.

 At a Member States briefing on 10 February WHO briefed more than a hundred participants on the virus and potential complications and on the SRF.

 As global concern for the spread of the Zika virus gathers momentum, WHO is taking action to strengthen its partnerships with respondents to the current outbreak which has affected 34 countries. There has been a simultaneous increase in the number of reported cases of microcephaly; a congenital birth defect particularly reported in Brazil. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is also on the rise in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Suriname and Venezuela. GBS was also observed during the 2013—2014 French Polynesia Zika virus outbreak.

 Prevention measures have become critical. There are concerns that that Zika virus may spread globally to environments where mosquitoes can live and breed. The phenomenon has prompted a call for a global and cross-sectoral response as various sectors may be impacted.

 Last week WHO activated an Incident Management System at WHO headquarters and at the regional level. In South America, WHO is working with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to coordinate response activities with national governments, UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious groups.

 The risk of babies being born with microcephaly has raised alarm among women, particularly those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. There are many unknowns regarding the possible causes of microcephaly. WHO has proposed that until more evidence comes to light, there are ways that women can protect themselves from Zika virus infection.

3.- EPIDEMIOLOGICAL UPDATE

Incidence of Zika virus

 Zika viral transmission since 2007 has been documented in 46 countries and territories including 34 countries which reported autochthonous transmission, or locally acquired infection, between 2015 and 2016, six countries with indication of viral circulation, five countries where the Zika virus outbreak has ended and one country with a locally acquired case but without vector borne transmission.

 In 2015 and 2016 the geographical range of Zika virus has steadily increased, with 26 countries and territories in the Americas now reporting autochthonous transmission of the virus.

 Brazilian national authorities estimate that up to a 1.5 million cases of Zika virus infection have occurred since the outbreak began.

 After Brazil, Colombia has been the most-affected country, with well over 25 000 suspected cases reported and 1331 Zika virus cases confirmed since October 2015.

 Cape Verde has reported more than seven thousand suspected cases of Zika virus

Philippines: DENR to mayors, brgy chiefs: Implement geohazard maps

20 hours 57 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Ferliza Calizar-Contratista

CEBU CITY, February 12 (PIA) – Environment officials are calling on local chief executives to implement the geohazard maps for disaster management.

In the recent Kapihan sa PIA held at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7), the department's geologists announced that they had already completed geohazard maps of all local governemnt units (LGUs) in Central Visayas.

it is now up to the mayors and barangay captains to put these into use as reference on their disaster risk reduction management program, said Ma. Elena Lupo, Supervising Geologist of the Mines and Geo Sciences Bureau of DENR-7.

“We call on them to use these for disaster mitigation other than their Comprehensive Land Use Plan,” Lupo said.

She said they are already done with all the landslide and flood hazard maps of LGUs down to the barangay level in Region 7.

She said these maps are already detailed in the 1:1000 scale.

“The 1:10000 scale is more accurate and specific compared with the 1:50000 scale we released in 2014,” Lupo said.

On the other hand, Al Emil Berador, Chief Geologist of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-7), said they are also starting with the Coastal and Subsidence Coastal Mapping.

Coastal Geohazard mapping include close assessment of terrains and land formations within the coasts while subsidence maps determines presence and degrees of sinkholes.

“The local chief executives are already informed about the hazard areas, so it is now up to them to disseminate and implement these,” Berador said.

In fact, they said that part of the program is also the Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign where exit conferences are conducted upon the furnishing of the geohazard maps.

As of press time, MGB-7 already made IEC activities in 375 barangays in the municipalities including the 19 Yolanda-affected towns in Cebu.

IEC include the exit conference and the distribution of collateral such as brochures, posters and videos.

In 2010, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act which include the conduct and completion of hazard maps in all LGUs.

The geohazard maps are now accessible and downloadable from four government websites, namely: DENR (www.denr.gov.ph), MGB (www.mgb.gov.ph), Philippine Information Agency (www.pia.gov.ph), and Environmental Science for Social Change (www.essc.org.ph). (rmn/fcc/PIA7-Cebu)

Philippines: DavNor builts training center for disaster risk reduction, management

21 hours 1 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Michael Uy

DAVAO DEL NORTE, February 12 (PIA) - The provincial government of Davao del Norte is constructing the first training center for disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in Region XI.

Provincial DRRM Executive Officer Romulo Tagalo bared in an interview that the center was the vision of Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario to institutionalize DRRM knowledge management.

“Gov. Del Rosario believes that the best tool in disasters is not any equipment but people themselves,” Tagalo emphasized.

He stressed that center compliments that Oplan Andam program of the province.

“The Oplan Andam is open to the public and one day is not enough to train our people on disaster management,” he said.

Tagalo underscored that the center aims to train for two to three days, barangay functionaries to teach them on how to download DRRM in their respective areas.

He also disclosed that Gov. Del Rosario targeted the center that is replicated from Bicol region, to be the training institution for DRRM in the whole Davao region.

“After we will cater all our barangays functionaries in the province, we will gladly welcome barangay functionaries from other provinces,” Tagalo added.

The P9-million training center, which will be launched on June, is located at the PDRRM building, provincial capitol compound, Mankilam, Tagum City.

Tagalo disclosed that the center can cater accommodations of up to 50 individuals. (PIA11, Michael Uy)

Philippines: Cebuanos urged to conserve water as El Niño intensifies

21 hours 3 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

CEBU CITY, February 13 (PIA) --- Cebuanos are urged to conserve water as El Niño continues to intensify, triggering water shortage in various parts of the region.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-) Chief Planning Management Division Officer-in-Charge Dr. Eddie Llamedo said water conservation measures include checking for plumbing leaks and reporting pipe leaks to water concessionaires, using water sparingly such as when brushing teeth and washing hands, said Llamedo.

Other measures are:

  • Using a pail and dipper instead of the shower when bathing or the hose when washing vehicles and gardening during cooler times of the day

  • Reducing the frequency of doing the laundry, as well as hanging clothes to dry instead of prolonging the washing machine’s spin cycle

  • Utilizing used water for other purposes such as dousing garden plants with water used in food preparation, and using soapy laundry water for vehicles.

According to DENR-7 Regional Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo, the most vulnerable sectors that will most likely be affected by El Niño are agriculture, fisheries, energy and the environment.

DENR-7 made the appeal following reports of water shortage affecting a number of towns in Central Visayas, particularly in agricultural areas.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the country is likely to continue experiencing the worst of El Niño until February with droughts expected to hit most of the countryside until April.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, however, have noted a “weakening” El Niño which is expected to be over by midyear.

According to Montejo, the agency is on alert status especially in areas where there is massive reforestation project brought about by the national greening program (NGP) as El Niño may cause the leaves of the plants to dry up that will result to forest fires.

The phenomenon influences weather patterns, ocean conditions, and fisheries across the world over an extended period of time, he added.

"We should be more mindful on our water consumption in bathing, tooth brushing, and hand washing adding recycled laundry water could be used for gardening, flushing the toilet, and washing a car and a floor," he said. “We can use always a glass to brush our teeth or not allowing water to flow freely in the faucet while brushing, and avoid watering the plants during high noon as water easily evaporates."

El Niño is an abnormal weather pattern caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean, affecting global climate and causing unusual droughts and floods.

It occurs every two to seven years, with the Philippines experiencing it last between mid-2009 and mid-2010. (rmn/jsme/PIA7-Cebu with DENR7 report)

Philippines: In times of disasters, citizens and Red Cross Responders turn to radios for help

12 February 2016 - 12:27pm
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Philippines

By Mary Joy Evalarosa / IFRC

A few hours before typhoon Melor (local name: Nona) struck Northern Samar, Reynald Fidel, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Northern Samar chapter administrator, completely lost contact with the National Headquarters in Manila. With no signal bars on his cell phone, he picked up the only single-band radio in the office and called a friend who works at the local airport control tower to get updates on the coming typhoon. The radio proved to be a critical lifeline, as the chapter received vital and timely information on where and when exactly Melor would hit in their area, and they were able to quickly dispatch rescue teams to evacuate residents into safer locations.

On the ground, Red Cross emergency responders relied heavily on single-band radios to communicate with other emergency response teams in different areas.

“We used our car antennas and batteries and placed it on top of our building to get it to work after the main antennae snapped into two, just so we could continue communicating with our emergency response teams on the ground. It really helped us during our rescue operations,” said Ricky Broniola, 29, a member of the Red Cross Action Team (RCAT) based in Northern Samar.

Typhoon Melor slammed the province of Northern Samar on December 14. With winds as high as 175 km/hr, the typhoon toppled communication and transmission lines along its path. At the aftermath, the typhoon claimed 42 lives all over the Philippines and damaged over 379,000 houses.

Over in Manila, the Philippine Red Cross utilized its public service radio programme to keep citizens updated on the situation on the ground following the brunt of the typhoon.

For almost ten years now, “Kalinga Hatid ng Red Cross” (Support from the Philippine Red Cross) which airs every Saturday between 7-8 am over state-owned DZRB 738 AM Radyo ng Bayan has delivered disaster news bulletins, disaster operations, and other activities of the Philippine Red Cross.

Over the years, the program has interviewed members and officials of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement on topics ranging from emergency response, disaster preparedness, livelihood projects, to personal experiences of working with the Red Cross. The radio show are hosted by veteran broadcaster Francis Cansino and former Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Cora Alma de Leon.

World: Los desastres afectaron a casi 100 millones de personas en 2015, según datos de la ONU

12 February 2016 - 2:28am
Source: UN News Service Country: China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, United States of America, World

11 de febrero, 2016 — La Oficina de la ONU para la Reducción de Riesgos de Desastres (UNISDR) informó hoy en Ginebra que los desastres registrados en 2015, el año más caliente documentado hasta ahora, afectaron a 98,6 millones de personas y causaron la muerte de 22.000.

Esos siniestros incluyeron terremotos, huracanes, sequías e inundaciones.

No obstante la gravedad de las cifras, son inferiores a las reportadas como promedio en la década anterior, al igual que los daños económicos asociados a los desastres, estimados en unos 66.000 millones de dólares.

El responsable de la UNISDR, Robert Glasser, consideró que esas reducciones son resultado de la aplicación por los gobiernos de mayores medidas de prevención.

“La tendencia más inquietante que observamos en la actualidad es la duplicación durante 2015 de grandes sequías”, dijo Glasser.

Durante 2015, más de 50 millones de personas sufrieron los efectos de sequías agudas, un incremento del 40% en comparación con el año anterior.

Por otro lado, los países que experimentaron la mayor cantidad de desastres fueron China, Estados Unidos, India, Filipinas e Indonesia.

Según esa Oficina de la ONU, el mensaje principal que se deriva de los datos recopilados es que la reducción de los gases de efecto invernadero y la adaptación al cambio climático son elementos vitales para la reducción futura de los riesgos de desastres.

Philippines: Philippines: ICRC aims to be closer to victims of armed conflict in 2016

11 February 2016 - 10:27pm
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Philippines

We asked Pascal Porchet, the new head of delegation of the ICRC in the Philippines, about his first few weeks in the country, the humanitarian issues and challenges the ICRC will face in 2016, and how he will steer the Philippine delegation to be closer to communities affected by armed conflict.

How has it been for you since you arrived in the Philippines three weeks ago?

It has been a great experience. First of all, I was warmly welcomed by all my colleagues. It is also for me a sort of homecoming to a region that I have always liked. It's the region where one of my children was born, so I feel at home in Asia.

Asian culture resonates in me. Still, I think the Philippines is a unique place. I can't compare it to any place I have been to before. I see very friendly people. I see people who are genuinely interested in connecting with me and in exchanging ideas. It's a society that can be very open if one understands it well. So I'm eager to learn more about it.

The past few weeks have also been very intense, because it's a very complex context where I have to learn a lot. I spent much time listening to experienced colleagues who have been here for a very long time.

It was also intense in terms of traveling. I went to Davao, where I visited our subdelegation for Mindanao. I journeyed to Cotabato, where I met with the team and with interesting contacts in the field. I was also at an internal ICRC meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss its regional strategy for Asia. And I have just come back and am now able to install myself in my office. So it's been a very intense time, but I'm very happy to be here.

We noticed that you immediately went to the field. Was being present in the field something you prioritized?

It's my belief that you cannot understand the country when you do not know the people, when you do not know what the cities or the villages look like. You have to be there, you have to connect, first and foremost to the ICRC's resident colleagues who have been working and living in these areas for a very long time. So when you understand from them how the context works, I think you are better prepared to interact with contacts in Manila and elsewhere.

In 2016, what will the ICRC prioritize in terms of humanitarian issues or concerns in the Philippines?

The ICRC must always be as close to the victims of armed conflict as possible. I think that's the core of our mandate. So we have to focus on areas that are affected by armed conflict.

But also, at a time when climate change is high on the agenda, when we see more natural disasters, we have to ensure that we are prepared to respond to these situations, especially in areas affected by armed conflict, because there the ICRC is often the unique and only actor that can deliver a meaningful humanitarian response.

Having said that, we have a very strong national society in the Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross, which has a good presence all over the country. My priority is to further improve our coordination and collaboration with the national society and with other Movement partners.

Another priority that I see is to continue our work in detention. We have been able to work closely with the authorities, who have shown great interest in progressing on the issue of overcrowding. I think we should capitalize on this as well.

Finally, on IHL or international humanitarian law, we plan to work further with all the arms carriers in the Philippines but also with academia, civil society, and lawmakers to make sure that IHL is even more embodied in national institutions and accepted by all those carrying arms.

Are there specific challenges that the ICRC anticipates or is preparing for this year?

The big challenge in the Philippines is to manage both recurrent emergency responses and our core work of responding to the consequences of armed conflict. We should have a very steady operation in our core endeavors while at the same time being able to absorb the additional burden that would come our way when a natural disaster hits the Philippines, which we hope will not happen. I will have to make sure that we have all the resources to continue, and that we are able to scale up operations if the need arises.

This is your first post as head of delegation. How do you feel about it? From your wide range of experiences in other contexts, what learning will you bring with you to your new position?

First of all I'm very excited to be given this opportunity to head the delegation, and even more excited that it is the delegation in the Philippines. It's a big challenge that I'm glad to take on.

I would say that I'm pretty well prepared in the sense that I have been assigned in some very difficult and volatile environments. I worked in Iraq, so I have strong experience in terms of security management – also in building bridges to all the armed actors that you find in a conflict. It's something that is increasingly important, because we need to reach the civilian population that is living in areas that are affected by armed conflict. To be able to do so, you need to be able to talk to all the armed actors.

I also had quite an experience in responding to natural disasters when I was based in Pakistan, in the Kashmir region, during the earthquake in 2005. So I am familiar with responding in an effective way to natural disasters.

And finally I hope that I will be able to further develop the strong team that is the ICRC staff in the Philippines and to construct a unique atmosphere where everybody loves to come to work in the morning.

Pascal Porchet joined the ICRC in 2004 as a delegate to Nepal and subsequently as a head of office in Rwanda and then in the Kashmir Region of Pakistan to coordinate part of the ICRC emergency relief operations following the 2005 earthquake.

From 2007 to 2009 he was responsible for the ICRC's detention operations in Iraq and Jordan, where he planned and coordinated detention visits to Iraq and in particular to detainees under the authority of the United States-led coalition.

Following three years with the ICRC in Colombia, where he was responsible for humanitarian programs in the north of the country (as head of the subdelegation in Medellin), he became deputy head of the regional delegation for Niger and Mali, a position he held from 2013 to 2014.

In July 2014, Porchet returned to Iraq, where he was posted as the deputy head of delegation in charge of security and politics.

World: Le changement climatique et El Niño à l'origine de nombreuses catastrophes dans le monde en 2015, selon l'ONU

11 February 2016 - 9:52pm
Source: UN News Service Country: China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, World

11 février 2016 – L'année 2015, la plus chaude jamais enregistrée, confirme que les catastrophes liées aux conditions météorologiques et climatiques dominent désormais les tendances des catastrophes induites par les aléas naturels, selon une nouvelle analyse présentée jeudi par le Bureau des Nations Unies pour la réduction des risques de catastrophe (UNISDR).

Les cinq pays les plus touchés par les catastrophes en 2015 ont été la Chine (26), les États-Unis (22), l'Inde (19), les Philippines (15) et l'Indonésie (11), précise cette analyse.

« Nous avons été confrontés à l'année la plus chaude jamais enregistrée. L'année dernière, 98,6 millions de personnes ont été frappées par des catastrophes et le climat, souvent aidé par un puissant El Niño, a joué un rôle dans 92% de ces événements. Les 32 grandes sécheresses enregistrées, soit plus de deux fois la moyenne annuelle sur dix ans, en ont été l'impact le plus évident. Elles ont touché 50,5 millions de personnes et un certain nombre d'entre elles ont perduré cette année, notamment en Afrique », a déclaré le chef du Bureau des Nations Unies pour la réduction des risques de catastrophe, Robert Glasser.

« Le principal enseignement à tirer de cette analyse de tendances est qu'il est vital, pour des pays cherchant à réduire les risques de catastrophe pour aujourd'hui et demain, de réduire les émissions de carbone et de s'adapter au changement climatique », a-t-il ajouté.

Les températures extrêmes, principalement sous la forme de vagues de chaleur, ont été critiques en 2015. De nombreux pays d'Europe ont subi un stress thermique, avec de nombreux morts pour conséquence, notamment la France. L'Inde et le Pakistan ont souffert de vagues de chaleur parmi les plus intenses connues récemment.

32 grandes sécheresses ont été enregistrées l'année dernière, contre une moyenne annuelle de 15 au cours de la décennie précédente. Les sécheresses ont touché 50,5 millions de personnes, soit un chiffre bien supérieur à la moyenne de 35,4 millions sur les dix ans écoulés.

Les inondations ont affecté 16,4 millions de personnes l'année dernière en Inde. Elles sont généralement la catastrophe qui touche le plus de personnes pour toute année donnée, mais elles ont occupé l'an passé la seconde place, avec 152 inondations ayant concerné 27,5 millions de personnes et coûté 3.310 vies. En comparaison, la moyenne sur dix ans était de 5.938 décès et de 85 millions de personnes affectées.

La montée du niveau des mers et l'augmentation des températures à leur surface a contribué à une saison des cyclones très active en Asie et dans le Pacifique, avec 37 cyclones et typhons. À l'échelle mondiale, 90 tempêtes ont été répertoriées.

L'année 2015 a été la plus chaude jamais enregistrée, ce qui a contribué à de nombreuses pertes humaines à la suite de vagues de chaleur, avec un total cumulé de 7.346 décès : 3.275 en France, 2.248 en Inde et 1.229 au Pakistan. Dans l'ensemble, 7.346 décès ont été enregistrés et 1,2 million de personnes ont été touchées par des températures extrêmes en 2015. En comparaison, la moyenne sur dix ans était de 7.232 décès et de 8,7 millions de personnes affectées.

Selon M. Glasser, le séisme survenu au Népal a confirmé une fois de plus que les tremblements de terre sont la catégorie de catastrophes naturelles la plus meurtrière et souligne l'importance de respecter les codes de la construction. « Ce sont les bâtiments qui tuent des gens dans les zones sismiques, comme nous l'avons vu encore le week-end dernier à Taïwan », a-t-il dit.

Il a estimé que les agences nationales de gestion des catastrophes en Asie faisaient du bon travail en vue de réduire les conséquences meurtrières des tempêtes, grâce à des alertes précoces et à des évacuations opportunes, en particulier aux Philippines, en Chine, au Japon et dans les petits États insulaires du Pacifique. L'Asie et le Pacifique ont fait les frais des 90 tempêtes enregistrées l'an dernier, dont 48 étaient de la puissance d'un cyclone.

World: Access to contraception to mitigate potential impact of Zika virus

11 February 2016 - 8:08am
Source: UN Population Fund Country: Brazil, Philippines, World

Following the World Health Organization's declaration of the recent cluster of microcephaly cases as a global health emergency due to its strongly suspected link to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, ​the United Nations Population Fund​ has called for intensified efforts to ensure access to reproductive health services of those potentially affected by the infection.​

In the event that the widespread transmission of the Zika virus occurs in the Philippines, the greatest risk will likely be to pregnant women. Most of those infected by the virus experience no symptoms, and for those who do, the illness is usually mild. However​,​ the implications for the fetus can be extremely serious, especially during early stages of pregnancy, potentially before a woman is aware of her pregnancy.

Pregnant women and those of childbearing age who are not using modern contraceptive methods should therefore take extra care to avoid exposure to mosquito bites, wear protective clothing, use insecticide-treated mosquito nets and apply insect repellents approved for use by pregnant women.

UNFPA further emphasizes that women who are currently not planning to become pregnant should have full access to information and services that can help them prevent unplanned pregnancies.

“Access to contraceptives, including condoms, will be a very important factor in mitigating the potential impact of the Zika virus should it spread in the Philippines. As many poor women cannot afford the cost of contraceptives, this will need to be urgently addressed by the provision of contraceptives as guaranteed under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law,” said UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck.

The developing Zika situation serves to underline the importance that all women who are pregnant should seek prenatal care to receive information and monitoring of their pregnancy and to follow their doctors’ recommendations. Pregnant women in general, and particularly those who develop symptoms of the Zika virus infection, should be closely monitored by health providers.

World: The human cost of the hottest year on record - Climate change and El Nino drove disasters worldwide in 2015

11 February 2016 - 6:49am
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Country: American Samoa, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, World

11 February 2016, GENEVA – The hottest year on record, 2015, has confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards, according to a new analysis presented today.

The top five most disaster-hit countries in 2015 were China (26), USA (22), India (19), Philippines (15) and Indonesia (11).

The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser, said: “We have come through the hottest year on record. 98.6 million people were affected by disasters last year and climate often aided by a strong El Niño was a factor in 92% of those events. The most obvious impact was the 32 major droughts recorded which was more than double the ten-year annual average. These affected 50.5 million people and many have continued into this year particularly in Africa.

“The main message from this trends analysis is that reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change is vital for countries seeking to reduce disaster risk now and in the future.”

Mr. Glasser also commented: “The Nepal earthquake has confirmed yet again that earthquakes are the most deadly natural hazard category and underlines the importance of ensuring compliance with building codes. It is buildings which kill people in seismic zones as we saw again at the weekend in Taiwan.

“National disaster management agencies in Asia are doing good work in reducing death tolls from storms through early warnings and timely evacuations, especially in the Philippines, China, Japan and the small island states of the Pacific. Asia and the Pacific bore the brunt of the 90 storms reported last year which included 48 cyclone-strength storms.”

There were 996 fatalities in recorded storms last year, compared to an annual average of 17,778 from 2005 to 2014, according to preliminary data from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Belgium, which shows that the death toll from 346 major reported disasters last year was 22,773 – including 8,831 deaths from the Nepal earthquake.

CRED Director, Dr. Debarati Guha-Sapir, said: “At 22,773 deaths for 2015, overall disaster mortality was considerably down on the ten-year average of 76,424 deaths. It does seem that early warnings are having an impact in the case of storms. Further investment in this area is warranted by these numbers.

“Extreme temperatures, mostly heatwaves have been severe in 2015. Several countries in Europe faced heat stress with significant numbers of deaths particularly in France. India and Pakistan suffered from some of the most severe heat waves in recent times. Mortality from extreme temperatures are very under-estimated and need better evaluation of their impact.

2015 DISASTER FACTS AND FIGURES vs 2005-2014 AVERAGES

There were 32 major droughts recorded last year compared to an annual average of 15 over the previous decade. Droughts affected 50.5 million people, well above the ten year average of 35.4 million.

Floods have traditionally affected the most people in any given year but were in second place last year when 152 floods affected 27.5 million people and claimed 3,310 lives. This compares with the ten year average of 5,938 deaths and 85.1 million people affected. Floods in India last year affected 16.4 million people.

Rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures were factors in a very active cyclone season in Asia and the Pacific which saw 37 cyclones and typhoons. Globally, there were 90 reported storms resulting in 996 deaths and affecting 10.6 million people. This compares with a ten year average of 17,778 deaths and 34.9 million people affected.

2015 was the hottest year on record and this contributed to a major loss of life from heatwaves, including a combined total of 7346 deaths: in France (3,275), India (2,248) and Pakistan (1,229). Overall, 7,346 deaths were recorded and 1.2 million people were affected by extreme temperatures in 2015. This compares with the ten year average of 7,232 deaths and 8.7 million affected.

Other statistics from 2015: earthquakes and tsunamis killed 9,525 people (including Nepal) and affected 7.2 million; landslides triggered by heavy rains, killed 1,369 people and affected 50,332; wildfires took 66 lives and affected almost 495,000 people.

World: La naturaleza, primera línea de defensa contra las inundaciones

11 February 2016 - 3:22am
Source: World Bank Country: Philippines, Viet Nam, World

Cuando se trata de proteger las costas del mundo, las mejores soluciones pueden depender más de examinar la manera cómo valoramos los recursos naturales existentes que de la infraestructura moderna. Un nuevo informe recomienda el uso de modelos de los sectores de la ingeniería y de los seguros para reevaluar los beneficios que proporcionan ciertos hábitats, como los manglares y los arrecifes de coral, en vez de la construcción de muros contra las inundaciones y el aumento del nivel del mar.

Se sabe bien que los arrecifes y los manglares reducen el impacto de las olas que golpean las costas, disminuyendo de esa manera los riesgos de inundaciones y de erosión. Pero hasta ahora, el argumento económico para invertir en tales hábitats ha sido menos claro. El documento Managing coasts with natural solutions: Guidelines for measuring and valuing the coastal protection services of mangroves and coral reefs (i) (Gestionar las costas a través de soluciones de la naturaleza: Directrices para medir y evaluar los servicios de protección costera proporcionados por los manglares y los arrecifes de coral) busca abordar esta falta de pruebas y reorientar el análisis de costos y beneficios entre la infraestructura construida o “infraestructura gris” y la “infraestructura verde”, basada en procesos ambientales.

Medir y valorar los servicios proporcionados por los manglares y los arrecifes de coral

Michael Beck, científico marino principal de The Nature Conservancy, (i) codirigió el informe junto a Glenn-Marie Lange, asesora técnica de la Alianza Mundial para la Contabilidad de la Riqueza y la Valoración de los Servicios de los Ecosistemas (WAVES) del Banco Mundial, (i) recibiendo el apoyo de la Universidad de California (a través de sus sedes en Santa Cruz, Davis y Santa Bárbara) y la organización Resources for the Future. Beck, a partir de un enfoque innovador de la medición de los beneficios de los sistemas de los ecosistemas, aplicó técnicas de evaluación que habitualmente se usan en los sectores de la ingeniería y de los seguros.

Según explicó Beck “una manera típica de valorar los beneficios que ofrecen los arrecifes de coral y los manglares en materia de protección contra las inundaciones es preguntarse: ‘si pierdo esos hábitats, ¿cuál es el costo de sustituirlos por un dique o un rompeolas?’. Pero al aprender de los sectores de la ingeniería y de los seguros, podemos hacer un trabajo mucho mejor y medir de manera directa los beneficios de la reducción de las inundaciones. Mediante la comparación de los daños previstos causados por las inundaciones con los daños que se producirían si se perdieran los arrecifes y los manglares, obtenemos una diferencia que representa el valor de contar con esos recursos. Este enfoque se conoce como la función del daño esperado”.

El informe demuestra que los manglares y los arrecifes no solo tienen un valor ecológico, sino que también son importantes en términos económicos y sociales. Hasta la fecha, los servicios de los ecosistemas proporcionados por los manglares y los arrecifes de coral que han sido altamente valorados son los servicios de abastecimiento, tales como el nivel de producción de peces o de madera que un hábitat puede proporcionar. Este nuevo trabajo acerca del valor de la reducción de las inundaciones es una de las primeras evaluaciones rigurosas de los servicios de regulación que se pueden hacer a escala nacional y mundial.

Una solución viable para un tema de preocupación mundial

Los impactos en conjunto del crecimiento de la población, la urbanización y el cambio climático continúan haciendo que la defensa de las costas sea un desafío cada vez mayor. (i) En todo el mundo, cientos de millones de personas están en peligro de ser afectadas por inundaciones y fenómenos meteorológicos extremos, y el costo económico de los daños aumenta marcadamente. En los últimos 10 años, las aseguradoras han pagado más de USD 300 000 millones (i) solo por pérdidas en las zonas costeras causadas por tormentas.

Beck y el equipo de WAVES han demostrado que las importantes características en materia de protección de los manglares y los arrecifes se pueden incorporar fácilmente en herramientas de planificación económica como la contabilidad del capital natural. (i) Ellos esperan que con esto los responsables de formular las políticas consideren a estos hábitats como elementos cruciales para la defensa de las costas, y una alternativa eficaz en función de los costos frente a la vulnerable infraestructura gris. Sin embargo, ello requerirá esfuerzos concertados a una escala significativa: de acuerdo a algunos cálculos, se perdió el 19 % de los manglares entre 1980 y 2005*, y se considera que el 75 % de los arrecifes de coral del mundo se encuentra en peligro**.

Una trayectoria de éxito

A pesar del enorme desafío que representa la gestión de las zonas costeras, aumenta el impulso (i) a favor de restaurar los hábitats para reducir los riesgos de inundaciones y de erosión. En las directrices se presentan más de 20 estudios de casos sobre las funciones que cumplen los manglares y los arrecifes en la protección de las costas y que se tradujeron en importantes decisiones sobre políticas, entre las que destacan:

  • En Viet Nam, se demostró que unas 9000 hectáreas de manglares reforestados tenían relaciones costo-beneficio considerables, desde 3 a 1 en algunas comunas hasta 28 a 1 en otras.

  • Tras el devastador tifón Haiyan de 2013, el Gobierno de Filipinas prometió USD 8 millones para un programa de dinero por trabajo destinado a restablecer los manglares y los bosques costeros a lo largo de las zonas más afectadas.

  • El Fondo de Seguro contra Riesgos de Catástrofes para el Caribe (CCRIF, por su sigla en inglés) descubrió que en siete de ocho países analizados, la restauración de los arrecifes y de los manglares era una de las estrategias más rentables para reducir el riesgo en las costas y la adaptación.

“Lo que esperamos”, dijo Beck, “es que al mostrarles a quienes toman decisiones que los manglares y los arrecifes, además de su valor intrínseco, son muy importantes como una primera línea de defensa, nosotros podamos realmente inspirar más medidas, no solo de los conservacionistas, sino de los gerentes de la gestión del riesgo de desastres, los planificadores del desarrollo y los ministerios de Finanzas y Desarrollo”.

*Spalding y otros, 2010

**Burke y otros, 2011

World: Nature as the First Line of Defense against Floods

10 February 2016 - 11:25pm
Source: World Bank Country: Philippines, Viet Nam, World

When it comes to protecting the world’s coasts, the best solutions may depend less on modern infrastructure, and more on rethinking how we value existing natural resources. A new report recommends using engineering and insurance models to re-evaluate the benefits of habitats like mangrove forests and coral reefs, instead of building walls against floods and rising seas.

It is well documented that reefs and mangroves reduce the impact of waves hitting coasts, thus decreasing the risks of flooding and erosion. But until now, the economic argument for investing in such habitats has been less clear. Managing coasts with natural solutions: Guidelines for measuring and valuing the coastal protection services of mangroves and coral reefs seeks to address this evidence gap, and to reorient the cost-benefit analysis between built or “gray infrastructure,” and “green infrastructure” based on environmental processes.  

Measuring and valuing services of mangroves and coral reefs

In a ground-breaking approach to measuring the benefits of ecosystem services, Lead Marine Scientist at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Michael Beck - who co-led the report with Glenn-Marie Lange, Technical Advisor for the World Bank Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Global Partnership, with support from the University of California (UC) Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and Resources for the Future – applied assessment techniques commonly used in the engineering and insurance sectors.

Beck explained, “A typical way of valuing the flood protection benefit of coral reefs and mangroves is to ask, ‘If I lose those habitats, what is the cost of replacing them with a seawall or a breakwater?’ But learning from the engineering and insurance sectors, we can do a much better job of directly measuring the flood reduction benefit. By comparing the expected flood damages with the damages that would occur if reefs and mangroves were lost, we obtain a difference that represents the value of having those resources in place. This approach is known as the Expected Damage Function.”

The report demonstrates that mangroves and reefs not only have ecological value, but also social and economic significance. To date, the ecosystem services that have been highly valued for mangroves and coral reefs are provisioning services, such as how much fish production or timber a habitat can provide. This new work on flood reduction value is one of the very first, rigorous valuations of regulating services that can be done at a national and global scale.

A viable solution to an issue of global concern

The combined impacts of population growth, urbanization and climate change continue to make coastal defense more and more challenging. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people are at risk from floods and extreme weather, and the economic cost of damages is rising steeply. Insurers have paid out more than $300 billion over the last 10 years just for coastal losses from storms.

By showing that the important protection characteristics of mangroves and reefs can be readily incorporated into economic planning tools like Natural Capital Accounting, Beck and the WAVES team hope that policymakers view these habitats as critical for coastal defense, and as cost-effective alternatives to vulnerable gray infrastructure. This will, however, require concerted efforts at a significant scale: by some estimates, 19 percent of mangroves were lost between 1980 and 2005*, and 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are considered threatened**.

A track record of success

Despite the enormity of the coastal management challenge, momentum is growing in favor of restoring habitats to reduce risks from flooding and erosion. The _Guidelines _highlight over 20 case studies where the coastal protection roles of mangroves and reefs were reflected in major policy decisions, including:

  • In Vietnam, some 9,000 hectares of reforested mangroves were shown to have substantial benefit-cost ratios, from 3:1 in some communes to 28:1 in others.
  • In the aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan of 2013, the Government of the Philippines pledged $8 million for a cash-for-work program to restore mangroves and beach forests along the hardest hit coastlines.
  • The Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) found that, in seven out of the eight countries examined, reef and mangrove restoration was one of the most cost-effective approaches to coastal risk reduction and adaptation.

“What we hope,” Beck said, “is that in addition to their intrinsic value, by showing decision-makers how important mangroves and reefs are as a first line of defense, we can really inspire more action, not just from conservationists, but from disaster risk managers, from development planners, and from ministries of finance and development.” 

  *Spalding et al. 2010

**Burke et al. 2011

World: Alliance2015 Project Countries with expected El-Nino impacts 2015/2016: Countries in the World with current projects of Alliance2015 Partner Organisations in which El-Nino impacts are likely

10 February 2016 - 5:38am
Source: Concern Worldwide, CESVI - Cooperazione e Sviluppo Onlus, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e. V., Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, People in Need, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Country: Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, World, Zimbabwe

Philippines: 23 rebels surrender since January 2016

10 February 2016 - 2:20am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Feb 10 (PIA) A total of 23 rebels returned to the folds of the law since January 1 this year from various fronts in the regions of Davao and Socksargen.

Captain Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division attributed the surrender to the open arms policy being offered by the local government units and the soldiers to those thinking of leaving the armed struggle.

He said the military has also intensified its security operations in the countryside making the rebels to be always on the run.

Soldiers under the 10th ID were involved in a series of encounters with rebel forces last week in the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

Batchar identified the latest to surrender in their aliases as Pablo 21, Borjack 18, and Boboy, members of the front 71 of the New People’s Army Far South Mindanao Region.

They surrendered to the authorities in Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental.

Major General Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th ID welcomed the former rebels and assured fair treatment from the government.

He also vowed to run after rebels who continue the armed struggle.

“We hope that the active rebels will follow their former comrades. The rebel movement has caused a lot of broken families, lives wasted and denial of peace and development in communities,” he said. (PIA 11-Joey Sem G. Dalumpines)

Philippines: Biliran health office intensifies anti-dengue campaign

10 February 2016 - 2:11am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Rodrigo S. Victoria

NAVAL, Biliran, February 10 (PIA) - Bannering the famous health line “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” the provincial health office here intensified its anti-dengue campaign through increasing surveillance activities and awareness campaign in the community.

This came after eleven (11) suspected dengue cases were recorded in the province of Biliran in the month of January this year as per report from the Biliran provincial health office (PHO).

The report states that 11 dengue cases were monitored from Morbidity Week 1 to Morbidity Week 4 as of January 2016 and these cases came from the municipalities of Naval, Cabucgayan, and Caibiran.

These reported dengue cases came from barangays Balaquid with one suspected case and Langgao with three suspected cases in Cabucgayan town; Barangay Palenque in Caibiran with two suspected cases, and barangays Lico, Capinahan and Calumpang with one suspected case each, and Villaconsuelo with two suspected cases in Naval town.

The report also revealed that ten of these cases are admitted in health facilities but no deaths were reported among the ten cases.

Vanessa Veloso Ramirez, Biliran health education and promotion officer said that although these cases are lower compared to the same period of last year, surveillance activities and awareness campaign must be intensified in all barangays of the province to effectively control dengue cases.

Ramirez appealed to all local officials especially at the barangay level to revitalize their ABKD or the Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue.

She also reminded the public to observe the 4S in fighting dengue or the search and destroy, self-protection measures, seek early consultation and say “NO” to indiscriminate fogging.

Ramirez said, if the person will experience the following signs and symptoms of a dengue case like sudden onset of high fever which may last for two to seven days; joint and muscle pain and pain behind the eyes; weakness; skin rashes – maculopapular rash or red tiny spots on the skin called petechiae; nosebleed when the fever starts to subside; abdominal pain; vomiting of coffee-colored matter and dark-colored stools - the affected person is encouraged to seek early consutation in the nearest health facilities like hospital or rural health units for immediate medical treatment.

Ramirez also reminds the public not to be complacent with this type of mosquito-borne disease with the advent of Zika virus, now considered a dreaded mosquito-borne disease brought by the same dengue carrier mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, now affecting some South American countries like Brazil and some countries in the world. # (fj/rvictoria/PIA 8 Biliran)

Philippines: Turnover of Japan-funded two (2) units of light hauling vehicles in Molave, Zamboanga del Sur

9 February 2016 - 12:27pm
Source: Government of Japan Country: Japan, Philippines

Second Secretary Takuhiro Watanabe attended the turnover ceremony February 4, 2016 for “The Project for the Acquisition of Two (2) Units of Light Hauling Vehicles” in the Municipality of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur. This is part of the Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).

The ceremony was attended by Mr. Arthur A. Quilalang, Chairperson of Rizal Molave Multi-purpose Cooperative (RIMMPCO) and other members of the organization. It was also attended by the Deputy Head of Mission of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), First Admiral Dato Khairuddin Bin Mohd Arif RMN and officials from the Local Government Unit (LGU), represented by Mayor Ireneo Glepa and Vice Mayor Roberto Lacuaren.

In FY2014, under J-BIRD (※), the Embassy of Japan (EOJ) provided assistance to RIMMPCO amounting to Sixty Five Thousand Three Hundred Thirty Three US Dollars (USD 65,333) or approximately Php 2.74 million. The grant was used for the procurement of two (2) units of light hauling vehicles.

The Municipality of Molave is mainly dependent on its agriculture sector. In fact, 20,000 hectares or almost 90% of their land is devoted to agriculture. However, given the large volume of rice production, the farmers have no cheaper way of transporting their produce from the farm to the storage area or to the market.

The two (2) units of hauling trucks are expected to be used in transporting large volume of rice at a lower cost and will be able to help farmers save up to 50% if their usual expenses in hauling services. In addition, Japan believes that this project will not only strengthen the friendship between the people of Japan and the Philippines but also continue to further foster a strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines towards the future.

The Government of Japan, as the top ODA donor for the Philippines, launched the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects in the Philippines in 1989 for the purpose of reducing poverty and helping various communities engaged in grassroots activities. As of present, 512 grassroots projects have been funded by GGP.

(※) Since 2006, Japan has been intensively implementing Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects and other ODA projects for confict affected areas in Mindanao, collectively called J-BIRD (Japan-Bangsamoro Initiative for Reconstruction and Develpoment). Their total amount is over 15 billion yen. Furthermore, when President Aquino made a state visit to Japan last June, Japanese Prime Minister, Mr.Shinzo Abe, expressed at their summit meeting his support for efforts by the Government of the Philippines to secure enduring peace in Mindanao, and stated that the Government of Japan will promote the J-BIRD II (Note), in view of the establishment of a new autonomous political entity.

(Note: A new phase of the J-BIRD that will focus more on ensuring economic autonomy in the Bangsamoro Area.)

Japanese Version

Philippines: Turnover of Japan-funded shelter home for women and children in Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay

9 February 2016 - 12:20pm
Source: Government of Japan Country: Japan, Philippines

Second Secretary Takuhiro Watanabe attended the turnover ceremony February 5, 2016 for “The Project for Construction of Shelter Home for Women and Children” in the Municipality of Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay. This is part of the Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).

The ceremony was attended by Mayor Cresencio S. Jore, Vice Mayor Rex B. Castor, the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) council members and department heads of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Diplahan as well as First Admiral Dato Khairuddin Bin Mohd Arif RMN, Deputy Head of Mission from the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

In FY2012, under J-BIRD (※), the Embassy of Japan (EOJ) provided assistance to the LGU of Diplahan amounting to One Hundred One Thousand Five Hundred Thirty Six US Dollars (USD 101,536) or approximately Php 3.95 million. The grant was used for the construction of a two-storey shelter home and procurement of training equipment. The shelter home can accommodate 60 abused women and children and will render physical and medical assistance such as preventive and rehabilitation services as well as therapy services through counseling sessions with their psychotherapist. Aside from these, the shelter home will also offer the women with opportunities for skills training on handicrafts and food processing.

The shelter home is expected to provide the women and children with a safer life and environment as well as promote to the women social participation through the skills acquired during the trainings. Ultimately, the project aims to maximize their potentials towards living a normal and productive life. In addition, Japan believes that this project will not only strengthen the friendship between the people of Japan and the Philippines but also continue to further foster a strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines towards the future.

The Government of Japan, as the top ODA donor for the Philippines, launched the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects in the Philippines in 1989 for the purpose of reducing poverty and helping various communities engaged in grassroots activities. As of present, 512 grassroots projects have been funded by GGP.

(※) Since 2006, Japan has been intensively implementing Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects and other ODA projects for confict affected areas in Mindanao, collectively called J-BIRD (Japan-Bangsamoro Initiative for Reconstruction and Develpoment). Their total amount is over 15 billion yen. Furthermore, when President Aquino made a state visit to Japan last June, Japanese Prime Minister, Mr.Shinzo Abe, expressed at their summit meeting his support for efforts by the Government of the Philippines to secure enduring peace in Mindanao, and stated that the Government of Japan will promote the J-BIRD II (Note), in view of the establishment of a new autonomous political entity.

(Note: A new phase of the J-BIRD that will focus more on ensuring economic autonomy in the Bangsamoro Area.)

Japanese version

World: FAO’s Response to the 2015–2016 El Niño - From early warning to early action

9 February 2016 - 2:34am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Lesotho, Malawi, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, World, Zimbabwe

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been monitoring forecasts for the current El Niño since early 2015. It is using early warning information to design and implement early actions knowing that anticipatory action can mitigate or even prevent disasters from happening.

What is El Niño?

El Niño is the warming of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific. While the main threats to food production are reduced rainfall and drought in some regions, El Niño can also cause heavy rains and flooding in others.

What has been done so far?

When predictions suggested that this year’s El Niño could be even more severe than that of 1997–1998 – the worst on record – FAO took prompt action:

• a multi-departmental El Niño Task Force was established in September 2015. The Task Force holds monthly meetings and liaises directly with countries to develop the best early action and response plans;

• a special Early Warning – Early Action report was created to provide a global analysis of current and anticipated El Niño related impacts. It brings together early warning information with the actions being taken by FAO and national authorities.
Funding needs are also included. See: www.fao.org/emergencies/resources/documents/resources-detail/en/c/340660

• FAO staff undertook missions to high-priority countries to support the drafting of El Niño early action and response plans. Plans have already been developed for Somalia, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Philippines, Micronesia and Melanesia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Southern Africa region and implementation has started.

China - Taiwan Province: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (2 - 8 February 2016)

8 February 2016 - 4:14am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: China - Taiwan Province, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Tonga

CHINA

A 6.4M earthquake of shallow depth (28 km) struck Taiwan Province of China at 03:57 (local time) on Saturday 6 Feb. The southern city of Tainan (population approximately 2 million) near the epicentre has been most affected, with a number of structures severely damaged by the earthquake including a 16-story residential complex, which has been the focus of search-and-rescue efforts. As of 8 Feb, local authorities confirmed at least 37 deaths, all but two from the collapsed residential complex. Some 530 people had been reported as injured, 87 of whom remain hospitalized, with another 117 people unaccounted for. Search and rescue operations are ongoing at the site of the collapse residential complex, supported by some 3,500 local responders. No request for international assistance has been received to date.

37 people dead

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

While the arrival of mid-January rains have temporarily eased the water supply situation in certain parts of the country, severe food and water insecurity persists in various locations including remote Western Province, inland Gulf Province, and high-altitude locations. The situation is particularly aggravated in communities living in dispersed remote areas, which can only be reached by foot or air, and where access remains a major logistical and financial challenge. Last week, the Government facilitated the provision of US$ 130,000 worth of food relief to Western Province while an additional 345 metric tons of food supplies (purchased by the Ok Tedi Foundation) arrived in the Province for onward distribution to three districts.

REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS (RMI )

The Marshall Islands has become the first country in the Pacific to declare a State of Emergency in relation to the El Niño drought. The RMI Government has developed a US$8.25 million Drought Response Plan aimed at mitigating the impacts of extremely low rainfall forecast through until July 2016. The RMI Government estimates that approximately 12,231 people, or 23% of the total population, are experiencing severe drought conditions. Priority needs include improving access to clean drinking water and basic hygiene to reduce disease outbreaks.

12,000 people affected

TONGA

Tonga has officially declared an outbreak of Zika Virus following the first positive test results from 265 suspected cases that are under investigation. Tongan Health officials advise that public messaging is underway, and an Epidemic Taskforce has been established. A national clean-up of breeding sites has been initiated and surveillance has been stepped up, especially for pregnant mothers. Zika has been seen in various parts of the Pacific since 2007. WHO advises that all countries and territories in the Pacific are vulnerable to the introduction of Zika virus because the main Aedes mosquito vector is present in most parts of the region.

PHILIPPINES

About 27,300 farmers across 4 provinces are affected by drought and rat infestation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Maguindanao province declared a state of calamity on 29 Jan due to widespread drought affecting farming villages. Priority needs are food, drinking water supply and medical aid. In light of El Niño continuing to affect the Philippines, authorities in Maguindanao met with humanitarian partners to plan for assessments and response.

Philippines: Philippine mayor shot in pre-election ambush

7 February 2016 - 1:31am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Sunday 2/7/2016 - 05:05 GMT

A Philippine town mayor was shot and wounded in an ambush in the conflict-wracked south on Sunday, two days before the official campaign for general elections in May kick off, police said.

A gunman riding a motorcycle opened fire on Mayor Jasper Que as he drove with his two bodyguards in the port city of Zamboanga at around 9 am, city police spokeswoman Senior Inspector Helen Galvez told AFP.

Que, who is not seeking reelection, is mayor of Bongao, a remote seaside town in Tawi-Tawi, an impoverished island chain on the country's southernmost tip. A relative is running to succeed him, according to election records.

Que, who suffered three gunshot wounds to his arm, leg and buttocks, is recovering in a Zamboanga hospital while his assailant escaped.

It was not immediately clear if the attack was election-related, Galvez said. The mayor is a member of President Benigno Aquino's Liberal Party.

Elections in one of Southeast Asia's most chaotic democracies are routinely marred by violence due to intense political rivalries. In 2010, 179 people were killed or injured in election-related attacks.

No election-related violent incidents have so far been recorded ahead of the May vote.

The official campaign for national positions including president and members of parliament will start on Tuesday while campaigning for local executive positions will start in March.

jfg/fa

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse