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Updated: 17 min 29 sec ago

Philippines: Chikungunya confirmed in 6 Iloilo towns

31 August 2014 - 10:58pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

By: Lilibeth A. French

ILOILO CITY, Aug. 31 (PIA6) - - The results of the laboratory tests have confirmed cases of chikungunya in six municipalities of the province of Iloilo.

Iloilo Provincial Health Office Assistant Chief Dr. Maria Socorro Quinon said on Wednesday that some of the results of the serum samples taken from suspected chikungunya patients in the six municipalities which were sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine of the Department of Health in Muntinlupa City turned out positive.

In Oton town, out of the 14 serum samples, 11 were confirmed positive; in Igbaras, out of the 3 samples, one positive; in Carles, out of the 17 samples, 7 positive; in Tigbauan out of the 6 samples, 2 positive and 2 pending; and Alimodian and Badiangan have one confirmed case each.

Quinon said the latest result from RITM confirmed that there are really cases of chikungunya in the province. It also showed an increase in cases as compared to last year.

Chikungunya like dengue is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes such as Aedes aegpti and Aedes Albopictus.

Quinon said chikungunya is not as deadly as dengue but advised patients showing symptoms to immediately seek medical help especially patients who are immunocompromised or with weakened immune system to avoid worst cases or even deaths.

Symptoms of chikungunya include fever, rashes, headache and muscle pain.

Quinon said the 4S strategy is still the best prevention to avoid chikungunya as well as dengue. The strategy is composed of Search and Detroy, Seek early consultation, Self-protective measures and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.

She encouraged people to continue to keep their surroundings clean and destroy possible breeding of mosquitoes inside and outside their houses.

Based on the entomological survey conducted by IPHO in the different municipalities, Quinon said 96-97% of the types of mosquitoes found in these places are aedis aegypti and 3 % are aedes albopictus which both strive in stagnant waters. (JCM/LAF/PIA6)

Libya: Deteriorating Security in Libya May Result in More Migrant Boats: IOM

29 August 2014 - 8:02am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Libya, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

IOM is concerned that the number of migrants trying to reach Italy from Libya by sea could increase in the coming weeks, as more people decide to opt for the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to escape ongoing fighting in the Libyan capital.

For the last six weeks, Tripoli has seen fighting between rival militias, including indiscriminate shelling of the main airport and surrounding areas. The increasing use of heavy artillery and missiles have caused an unknown number of casualties, many of them civilians.

The Libyan capital lacks petrol, diesel, electricity and gas, and the price of basic commodities is skyrocketing. Insecurity is preventing movement in the western part of the city and on roads to the Tunisian border, which many Libyans and foreign nationals are trying to reach. There are checkpoints along the main roads.

Insecurity is also preventing IOM’s 25 staff in Tripoli from moving freely. Many frequently have to work from home.

The Libyan authorities report that some 50,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and to move on safer areas in and around Tripoli. Many displaced families are living with local communities or in shelters provided by the Libyan Red Crescent.

Their most pressing needs include medicine, food and hygiene kits. If the situation continues to deteriorate, they will also need shelter, cooking utensils and sanitation facilities, according to IOM Tripoli staff.

IOM psychosocial experts have also highlighted the need for psychosocial support and protection for vulnerable groups, including children and migrants. Trainers are working with the Libyan NGOs and local councils to provide an intensive 6-day training course for some 40 frontline social workers helping displaced people and migrants.

Displaced migrants trapped in Tripoli have been particularly hard hit. Last Friday (22/8), ten Sudanese were killed when a stray missile destroyed a house in Tripoli’s Karmiya district. An estimated 15,000 Sudanese live in the district and the Sunday market area, which are under siege.

The situation of migrants in detention centers is also deteriorating. There are 18 detention centers for migrants, normally hosting between 4,000 to 6,000 people. Most of the centers are operational, but are experiencing shortages of calor gas for cooking, water and food. Some have released migrants, as they can no longer afford to provide adequate food and sanitation.

IOM staff have also identified some 2,000 Pakistanis who have found refuge in a school in central Tripoli. “The place is overcrowded and everyone is anxious to be repatriated. But in the meantime, they urgently need food and medical care,” says IOM Libya Chief of Mission Othman Belbeisi.

IOM and the Libyan Red Crescent is working to improve sanitation at the site and arranging the delivery of food, water and hygiene kits.

IOM is also working with the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo to provide travel documents and help a number of Ethiopian women detained at the Surman detention center for women to return home.

It has also received requests from Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam to help their citizens to leave Libya.

For more information, please contact Othman Belbeisi at IOM Libya, Email:

Philippines: New home brings new hope for earthquake survivors

29 August 2014 - 7:04am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary Evangeline Avilla, 43, and her family have moved into their temporary shelter in barangay Ubojan along with other 82 families whose houses were damaged when the 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol.

“Mas komportableng tirahan ang mga bahay na ito. Mas ligtas na kami dito kaysa doon sa mga tents [This temporary shelter is a more comfortable place to stay. We are now safer here than in the tents],” Evelyn said.

For her and for the rest of her neighbors, the temporary shelters they now occupy protect them from the scorching heat of the sun at daytime and from cold and prowling animals at nighttime.

They will stay in these transition houses while waiting for their permanent houses to be done.

The temporary shelters were constructed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, and the provincial and municipal governments.

To further support these families, DSWD-Field Office VII has already started the processing of livelihood assistance through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). They will undergo the Community Driven Enterprise Development (CDED) training to prepare them for their livelihood projects.

The SLP’s CDED is a framework that integrates business principles and techniques necessary for the implementation of livelihood projects with community participatory processes that enable the poor from the target communities to prepare their business plans.

While CDED training is being conducted, the families continue to engage in income generating activities. Some families are market vendors, tenant farmers, and fishers, among others.

For Evelyn, she started her “street food” business using the packs of fish and squid balls given by a non-government organization.

Evelyn is hopeful that with the CDED training, she will be able to choose the right business and eventually make it succeed.

Philippines: ICRC President lauds partnership with Philippine Red Cross in Yolanda recovery

29 August 2014 - 2:16am
Source: Philippine National Red Cross Country: Philippines

Basey, Samar -- After viewing the progress of communities in the areas hit by typhoon Yolanda, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that the partnership with the Philippine Red Cross in implementing the recovery efforts can be modeled and used in other places in the world.

ICRC President Peter Maurer told a gathering of volunteers and staff of the Philippine Red Cross during a visit to Samar that “ our partnership is highly inspiring, and for which, I am extremely grateful."

He said that “ I hope that my visit here is also an opportunity [for us to] think together on what we have learned in the past year. And how we can be a model for it in other places."

Maurer added that ‘ The way we work together here ---the ICRC and the [ Philippine Red Cross], the volunteers, and the officials, I think, is exemplary. We can draw lessons from the extraordinary cooperation that we have and see how we can bring this further beyond the Philippines, beyond other continents.“

Among the places where Maurer and PRC officials visited were the Basey District Hospital, which was jointly repaired by the ICRC and the PRC.

So far, the ICRC in partnership with the PRC has built 2,100 shelters in Samar, and aims to finish 4,500 shelters by the end of 2014.

In the immediate aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, the ICRC and PRC prioritized livelihood projects, employing thousands of people by giving them jobs clearing debris on roads, farmlands and backyards, digging trenches, and cutting and producing lumber.

Water network systems benefiting many villages were also implemented , and the Red Cross restored the water supply system in Guiuan. Healthcare facilities across Samar were also constructed to benefit residents in the area.

As for the impact of the recovery efforts to devastated populations in Samar , Maurer said that “ the work of the Philippine Red Cross and ICRC and other support organizations are really appreciated. They are taking initiatives on their own to make the support even bigger. “

Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said that Maurer came all the way over from Geneva and “ What is most important, he found time to come here, especially when the whole world is in turmoil. “

Gordon said that survivors of typhoon Yolanda are now on their way to rebuilding their lives and that ‘’ we’ve made them part of the process of changing their lives for the better. “

Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said that the Red Cross movement is ‘ focused on providing shelter and livelihood to the survivors of typhoon Yolanda. We were here when it hit, and we will be here until every community has completely recovered. “

Pang added that the PRC is on track to constructing about 90,000 shelter units for the families devastated by typhoon Yolanda and that ‘’ we are also providing families with livelihood opportunities so that they can rebound and become self-reliant as soon as possible. “

For his part, Maurer said that ‘ There is one single thing that struck me –everybody who I met, for whom you have worked, and we have all worked together, was extremely happy and grateful. And I think there is nothing better than that. "

Before he left the country, Maurer also paid a visit to the Philippine Red Cross National Headquarters in Manila, where he was warmly received.

Philippines: NDRRMC Update: Progress Report on Bomb Explosion in Cotabato City, 20 Aug 2014

28 August 2014 - 9:54pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines preview


• On or about 8:35 PM 19 August 2014, a bomb exploded in front of the establishment Hair Studio in Makakuha St., Cotabato City at the back of City Plaza Stage. The said bomb was allegedly placed under a Wrangler type jeep parked in the area. Victims were rushed in Cotabato Regional Medical Center for medical attention. Victims sustained minor injuries and are all in stable condition.


Injured — 5

Philippines: Philippine Muslim rebels oppose Islamic State 'virus'

28 August 2014 - 2:11am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

08/28/2014 04:54 GMT

MANILA, August 28, 2014 (AFP) - The Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group has condemned extremist jihadists in Iraq and Syria, and vowed to stop the spread of their "virus" into the Southeast Asian nation.

After decades of armed rebellion that claimed tens of thousands of lives, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace agreement in March that commits it and the national government to share power in the area.

The MILF portrayed its moderate leadership as vital to stopping the savage ideology of Islamic State (IS) infecting the southern Muslim regions of the mainly Catholic Philippines.

"The MILF condemns barbarism and savagery whether done by other groups including the ISIS or even by its (MILF's) own members," the MILF said in an editorial posted on its website this week.

"Frankly, it is the power, moderating line, and influence of the MILF that hinders the birth of a truly strong radical group."

The MILF also said a planned Muslim autonomous region that is the centrepiece of the peace deal would be a bulwark against the ideology of the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS.

The MILF urged President Benigno Aquino to approve a draft bill to create the autonomous region, which was submitted to him last week by a joint committee of rebel and government negotiators.

The peace agreement had called for Aquino to submit the bill to Congress earlier this year, so the autonomous region would be in place by the time he leaves office in mid-2016.

But he rejected an earlier draft and had the joint committee prepare a revised version.

"It is this... fear (of) not being able to realise it (passage of the Muslim autonomous law) for whatever reason that the ISIS' virus is much to be feared," the MILF warned.

Two other Filipino Muslim armed groups, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), have recently vowed allegiance to the IS in video clips uploaded on the Internet.

Some politicians have expressed concern both groups may be sending recruits abroad to fight alongside the IS, though the Philippine military said there was no evidence of this.

The Abu Sayyaf is a loosely organised Al-Qaeda-linked group of several hundred militants blamed for the Philippines' deadliest terrorists attacks.

The BIFF, which has about 200 fighters, split from the MILF after rejecting peace talks and has vowed to continue pursuing an independent Islamic state.

"For us, the threat is not in the two groups' joining the ISIS. Their number(s) (are) too tiny to be felt and make a difference," the MILF said.

"The threat really comes from the extremism espouse(d) by the ISIS. Ideas are contagious and infectious."


© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: ADRA in the Philippines sustains humanitarian efforts in typhoon-hit areas

27 August 2014 - 11:46pm
Source: Adventist Development and Relief Agency International Country: Philippines preview

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in the Philippines has spent almost 8 million USD in combined emergency response and recovery efforts since Typhoon Haiyan struck the country in November last year, addressing the basic but crucial post-disaster needs of more than 160,000 individuals or 32,000 households in the Visayas region.

Eight emergency response projects amounting to 1.9 million USD in total were already completed as of July this year. These included food relief distribution, provision of potable water and sanitation and hygiene (WASH), Disaster Risk Reduction trainings, self-recovery shelter projects and Cash-For-Work programs. These efforts were directed at severely affected communities in Leyte, Aklan, Iloilo, and Capiz provinces, although food relief aid also covered some areas of Northern Cebu just days after the typhoon.

ADRA International, ADRA Network, ADRA Regional Office, ADRA Japan, Swiss Solidarity, Hong Kong Disaster Relief, Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH) Germany, and the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist church have made these initial efforts possible.

Meanwhile, eight recovery projects are ongoing in the aforementioned provinces, with a projected total spending of 5.9 million USD. These projects primarily focus on rebuilding shelters, reviving sources of livelihood, food security and further DRR education.

ADRA Network, ADRA Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, GEZA Austria, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada are supporting the said recovery projects.

Through the Support to Self-Recovery for Shelter (SSRS) program, ADRA is helping 5,950 households rebuild decent shelters. The organization has provided these families shelter kits composed of construction materials such as corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets, GI sheets and coco lumber, and tool kits composed of tarpaulin, rope, nails, saw, hammer, shovel, machete and bucket, among others.

The SSRS project had been completed in Kalibo, Aklan last July and had reconstructed houses for 550 families. This was part of the eight initial emergency response projects.

Meanwhile, 4,000 shelters are still being constructed in Roxas (Capiz), 1,000 in the towns of Carigara and Dagami (Leyte), 500 in Ajuy (Iloilo) and 170 in Makato (Aklan).

Livelihood is another crucial aspect in the recovery process of the typhoon survivors. ADRA has assisted fisher folks and their families in terms of reviving their fishing livelihood, which had been severely affected by the devastation of the super typhoon. Through the Boat Repair Assistance Grant (BRAG) program, the organization has helped a total of 1,716 households in Ajuy (Iloilo) and 500 in Roxas (Capiz) repair or construct their boats.

In Bato, Leyte, ADRA is helping 300 families in the fishing community of Dawahon Island in terms of having better access to local food source. The residents on this island primarily rely on seaweed farming and fishing. ADRA is providing these families fishing tools such as fish traps and seaweed kits for seaweed production, and cash-for-work incentives for the locals.

Philippines: ICRC president stresses need to resolve plight of Zamboanga displaced

27 August 2014 - 9:39am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Philippines

Geneva/Manila (ICRC) – Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), concluded his first official visit to the Philippines today. During his three-day stay, Mr Maurer met with the Philippine president, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, and other high-level officials to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country, notably the challenges faced by the thousands of people who remain displaced in Zamboanga City.

Mr Maurer also visited Typhoon Haiyan survivors on Samar Island in the Visayas region, and assessed rebuilding efforts supported by the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross.

"I left Samar impressed by the resilience of the people I met there. In the hardest-hit areas, some survivors still need help to rebuild their homes and incomes," he said. "During my meetings with government officials in Manila, I reiterated the need for a durable solution for displaced people in Zamboanga, who are still living in difficult conditions nearly a year after the fighting came to an end in the city. I also underlined the ICRC’s commitment to help communities in different parts of the country to recover and rebuild amid long-standing cycles of violence and poverty."

In the meetings, the ICRC president also discussed an initiative launched with the national authorities in 2007 to tackle overcrowding and improve health conditions in prisons. With overcrowding still a serious issue in many facilities, Mr Maurer pledged ongoing ICRC support and urged officials to continue their efforts.

"The relationship we have built up with the authorities in the Philippines is very constructive and allows for frank exchange on the issues that matter, which is essential to our work," he said. "I am also convinced that the ICRC’s strong operational partnership with the Philippine Red Cross will continue to be indispensable to our efforts to respond promptly and efficiently to disasters, whether man-made or natural."

The ICRC provides a wide variety of humanitarian services in the Philippines, aiming for example to improve people's access to water, their livelihoods, and the health care available to them. In addition, ICRC delegates visit detainees across the country, particularly those held in connection with hostilities between the government and armed groups. The organization has carried out humanitarian activities in the Philippines since the Second World War and has had a permanent presence in the country since 1982.

For further information, please contact:
Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 6884
Wolde Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 2125
Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70

Philippines: DSWD, IOM to build more shelters for 'Yolanda' survivors

27 August 2014 - 9:30am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

QUEZON CITy, Aug. 27 – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will sign a partnership agreement to construct additional transitional shelters for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas who are still living in tents and evacuation centers.

DSWD in a statement said, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, and Chief of Mission and Director of Manila Administrative Center of IOM Philippines Marco Boasso will sign the agreement.

Under the partnership, DSWD said, some 3,200 units of transitional shelters worth P70,000 each will be constructed by IOM. DSWD will fund the construction of 2,700 units worth P189 million while IOM will provide counterpart funds amounting to P35 million for the remaining 500 units.

The transitional shelters will be constructed in ‘Yolanda’- affected areas in Leyte, Western Samar and Eastern Samar.

Sec. Soliman said that IOM is a long-time partner of the DSWD in camp coordination and camp management as well as in the implementation of temporary and transitional shelters for displaced families in areas affected by man-made and natural disasters.(DSWD)

Philippines: Philippines - Mindanao: Zamboanga City evacuation centres and transitory sites as of 14 July 2014

27 August 2014 - 9:03am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines preview

Philippines: Philippines - Mindanao: Zamboanga City evacuation centres and transitory sites as of 10 June 2014

27 August 2014 - 9:00am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines preview

Philippines: Philippines - Mindanao: Zamboanga City evacuation centres and transitory sites as of 11 August 2014

27 August 2014 - 8:49am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines preview

Philippines: Philippines: Zamboanga Crisis - Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 19 August 2014)

27 August 2014 - 8:49am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines preview

Philippines: Philippines: Zamboanga Crisis - Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 19 August 2014)

27 August 2014 - 8:49am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines preview

Philippines: Saguday strengthens disaster rescue teams

27 August 2014 - 3:00am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

By: Thelma C. Bicarme

SAGUDAY, Quirino, August 26 (PIA)-- The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) here has intensified its program on disaster preparedness by organizing and training its quick response teams from the municipal down to the barangay level.

Joey Gamboa, the newly designated municipal disaster risk reduction officer said as mandated by their Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Code, the emergency quick response team called Ligtas Rescue Units has been organized.

The team is tasked to assist the DRRMC in the conduct rescue operations in times of emergencies, train other rescue units and conduct massive information, education and communication in the prevention and management of emergencies and accidents.

The team is composed of Emerson Vicmudo-Team Leader; FO3 Warlito Miguel; William Bill Doria; Robert Sumalbag, Jr; Roselve Domondon; Diomelsom Vicmudo, Ramil Neri; Rogelio Canto; Anastacio Ortiz, Jr and Roger Barcelona as members.

The team shall also lobby for the acquisition of needed equipments and the conduct of capability building activities for the members and adopt standard operating procedures in consultation with law enforcement agencies.

Gamboa said the rescue units of all the nine barangays, elementary schools including the Saguday National High School were also organized.

“We will first train our municipal rescue team then we will go down to the barangays,” Gamboa said.

He also added that the municipal disaster risk reduction office has been fully established and the municipal government has purchased some rescue equipments. (TCB/PIA 2-Quirino)

Philippines: Ilocos Norte's evacuation centers get star-rating for looks, facilities

27 August 2014 - 2:59am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

By: Freddie G. Lazaro

LAOAG CITY, August 27 (PIA) - Like hotels, Ilocos Norte's evacuation centers are now star-rated from one to a maximum of three stars depending on the presence of facilities and whether the physical appearance is pleasant.

Provincial Planning and Development Officer Pedro Agcaoili, secretary of the provincial resiliency task force, said evacuation centers are composed of primary and secondary schools, district hospitals, municipal auditoriums and churches.

The task force said an evacuation center is classified as three-star if it has functional facilities like a comfort room and a kitchen; two-star if its restroom and kitchen are not too pleasant and one-star if it has a restroom and a dirty kitchen.

“These evacuation centers are being readied before the onslaught of natural calamities like typhoon,” he said.

The task force identified at least 116 evacuation centers throughout the province.

Agcaoili noted that the province continues to prepare and strengthen the resilience of villages which are most vulnerable to hazards.

To orient the residents about the basic safety tips during disaster, the members of the PRTF chaired by provincial administrator Windell Chua under the direct supervision of Govenor Imee Marcos had set the conduct of series of evacuation drills in resiliency clustered barangays in the cities of Batac and Laoag and the towns of Bacarra, Bangui, Burgos, Pagudpud, Pasuquin, Piddig, Sarrat, Vintar, Badoc, Currimao, Dingras, Marcos, Paoay and Solsona.

Marcos said the conduct of evacuation drills is aimed at “zero” casualty during disasters.

The PRTF is composed of representatives from the Philippine National Police, Maritime, Philippine Army, Coastguard, Provincial Health Office, Environment and Natural Resources Office, PSWDO, Engineering and Office of the Barangay Affairs. (MCA/FGL, PIA – 1 Ilocos Norte)

World: Why Island Wisdom Is Crucial to Help Adapt and Prepare for the Impacts of Climate Change the World

27 August 2014 - 12:45am
Source: The Pacific Islands News Association Country: Grenada, Philippines, World

Opinion by Han Seung-soo

For decades, small island countries have been warning the world about the consequences of climate change. While many countries have been debating whether climate change is even happening or who is to blame, small islands have just had to deal with its impact, from extreme weather to rising sea levels and increasing environmental vulnerability.

Major storms have always been a fact of life for small islands. But in recent years they have intensified in their destructive capabilities. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck the Caribbean island of Grenada, causing widespread destruction. The financial cost of the disaster was estimated at more than $900 million - more than twice the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Only 10 months later, the country was hit again, this time by Hurricane Emily, which caused another $50 million in damage.

In the Caribbean, changes in hurricane intensity and frequency could eventually result in additional annual losses of $450 million, largely due to disruption of a key source of revenue and jobs: tourism. Limited diversification and small market size means that small island economies are not resilient to disaster loss. This is true not just in the Caribbean, but the world over.

According to global risk models developed by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), six of the top 10 countries with the greatest proportion of resources at risk during hurricanes or cyclones are small islands. These losses will only increase due to sea-level rise, water scarcity, drought, and other factors.

The 38 small island developing states, which spread across the Caribbean, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, are not sitting and waiting for the next storm to hit. They have been taking measures to adapt to and manage the risks posed by climate change.

Several Caribbean islands came together seven years ago to create an insurance pool of easy-to-access disaster funding. Spreading the risk across countries reduces premiums and provides contributors with a safety net which can fund vital services when disaster strikes. Since 2007, more than $30 million has been paid out by the 16 participating countries. A similar initiative is under way in the Pacific region where the memories of the massive human toll and devastation due to Typhoon Haiyan that claimed more than 6,000 lives in the Philippines last November are still all too vivid.

Ideas and actions for reducing the risk from disasters will be at the forefront of the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in Samoa from 1-4 September. The Conference will be a showcase for those living on the frontlines of climate change and could have a lasting and positive influence on the post-2015 development agenda.

The Conference is an acknowledgement by all the countries of the world of the unique circumstances that small island developing countries face. Their size, combined with their remoteness, and economies of scale, have made it that much more difficult for small islands to implement measures to become resilient. This is compounded by the impacts of climate change, a problem that is hardly of their own making as they collectively contribute less than 1 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, many are striving to become carbon neutral by using renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions.

Next week's conference in Samoa is the first of two critical global gatherings. Just a few weeks later, on 23 September in New York, UN Secretary-General will host heads of State, CEOs and civil society leaders at the Climate Summit. The Summit aims to spur accelerated and ambitious actions to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change worldwide, from the largest countries to the smallest island States. It's about turning promises into performance.

With international attention on small islands, climate change and the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, there has never been a better chance to turn the tide. Now is the time to listen, support and partner with those who have seen first-hand what climate change can do to your economy and your community. It would be one of the greatest tragedies of our time to continue to ignore the warnings from small islands; their issues will soon become our own.

Han Seung-soo is the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea


Philippines: How WFP And USAID Helped Prepare Sorsogon For Typhoon Glenda

26 August 2014 - 2:57pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Philippines

One never knows the effectiveness of a disaster preparedness and response programme until a disaster strikes. So how did communities in Sorsogon fare when Typhoon Glenda (international name: Rammasun) hit their province?

The Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR) initiatives of the World Food Programme (WFP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), was recently tested when strong winds and rains battered the province of Sorsogon on Wednesday, the 15th of July this year.

Typhoon Glenda stayed in Sorsogon for only four hours but it took the lives of two people and injured eight. The devastation it left in its wake amounted to seven billion pesos worth of damages to agriculture, fisheries, livestock, houses, and government infrastructures.

“We were seriously hit by the typhoon,” said Casiguran Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Officer (MDRRMO) Luisito Mendoza.

“We compare this (Typhoon Glenda) to Reming,” said Juban MDRRMO Lizpeth Nicolas.

Typhoon Reming (international name: Durian) was a tropical cyclone that devastated the Bicol region back in 2006 which killed six people and injured 26 in Sorsogon.

“In our coastal areas, our people are telling us that they are experiencing things they haven’t experienced in the past. We've experienced a storm surge and the high rise of seas. It’s the first time. This is the strongest so far since we started the DPR programme in 2011,” added Nicolas.

Since 2011, WFP’s DPR programme has been in various stages of intervention in seven targeted communities -- the province of Sorsogon, Sorsogon City, and in the municipalities of Casiguran, Irosin, Juban, Prieto Diaz, and Sta. Magdalena -- with the help of partners from the academe (Bicol University) and non-government organizations (Green Valley Development Program and Integrated Rural Development Foundation) and through USAID/OFDA funding of PhP33 million.

Sorsogon is a province in the Bicol region which ranks fourth nationwide in terms of typhoon risk, and sixth in terms of volcanic risk. Glenda was the seventh typhoon to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility this year, and it made its first landfall in Albay province at around 5:00pm with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometres per hour.

The whole Sorsogon province sprang into action a few days before and after Typhoon Glenda made landfall. Before the typhoon hit, the province organized pre-emptive evacuation at the barangay (village)level, with more than 59,000 families evacuated from Sorsogon City and its14 municipalities.

“During our GIS (Geographic Information System) training, the community already learned about the hazards they were exposed to, so we conducted pre-emptive evacuation. When the storm surge occurred, there was no one left in the danger areas,” said Juban MDRRMO Nicolas.

“As early as the day before the typhoon, our people went around the barangays, especially in the coastal areas. We informed them of the situation and told them it’s time to evacuate,” said Bim Dineros, emergency medical service staff of the City of Sorsogon. By the following day, the City of Sorsogon already evacuated their residents who lived in the danger areas.

After the typhoon struck, the local governments were immediately ready to respond. Emergency responders were deployed to assist injured people and clearing teams were organized to remove fallen debris from the roads.

“Our barangays are trained to rescue because we just finished our basic life support training,” said Irosin MDRRMO Andres Grajo.

“All of our equipment came from World Food Programme,” shared Casiguran MDRRMO Mendoza. “We were able to use the clearing tools to immediately clear the roads. The roads were passable the day after. We were also able to use the generator for the office and sleeping mats for the evacuees.

The DPR projects in the different areas of Sorsogon comprise capacity building for municipalities in GIS training, hazard mapping and contingency planning; establishment of emergency response teams with trainings on basic life support, water and search rescue and swift water training; setting up emergency preparedness structures such as early warning systems, disaster operations centre and evacuation centre; climate change adaptation initiatives like a climate change resiliency school, mangrove reforestation, and biochar training; academe and NGO innovations like tunnel-type agriculture, documentation of indigenous knowledge and skills, family and child-centred DPR trainings, and mobile DPR resource centre; and IEC on disaster preparedness.

Building Better Capacity For Preparedness

Aside from disaster response, years of careful groundwork has prepared the communities for the inevitable storm that came to Sorsogon. In Sta. Magdalena, a fifth class municipality in Sorsogon, the information, education, and communication campaign (IEC) proved effective as residents readied themselves before the onslaught of the typhoon. Sta. Magdalena had no casualties from Typhoon Glenda.

“I can say that the biggest achievement that we have is the increased awareness of the people on disasters, not only for the community but also us in the local government,” said Sta. Magdalena MDRRMO Marlon Futol.

Arvin Fuellas, 33, a resident of Barangay 2 Poblacion, Sta. Magdalena, said that the local government unit gave them early warning. “The people here were informed by the barangay officials of the oncoming typhoon as early as two days before,” he said. “When we learned there was a typhoon, we immediately prepared non-perishable food and water. We also charged our cellphones. People here are alert.”

“Our constituents are ready,” Nicolas said. “We started a capacity needs assessment where we identified all the gaps. We had a community-based disaster management planning that was participatory and inclusive together with persons with disability, where they made their contingency plans—identified vulnerable elements at risk and they planned the resources needed. So on my side, I am confident that the barangay can manage because they know what to do.”

"Juban is really very thankful for your kind heart. We are lucky enough that WFP and the US helped us to be prepared and so we quickly responded to the situation,” said Nicolas.

“On behalf of Sta. Magdalena, we would like to convey our great appreciation to USAID and of course, to WFP and other agencies. It’s really a great opportunity for Sta. Magdalena as the farthest town of Sorsogon,” said Sta. Magdalena municipal mayor Jocelyn Gallanosa. “We are looking forward for more partnerships for the betterment of everybody, and of course, in the name of being prepared during disasters.”

World: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Humanitarian Response

26 August 2014 - 2:28pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Philippines, World preview

Until recently, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, had been largely associated in the public mind with military uses, particularly armed attacks. However, increasing civilian use by hobbyists, researchers and others has started to change perceptions. UAVs, also known as remotely piloted aircraft or drones, are already used commercially for agriculture, surveying, wildlife monitoring and conservation, real estate assessments and other areas. Civilian use is likely to rise, with one study estimating that the agricultural market for UAVs could be up to ten times the public safety market. UAVs are reaching a critical juncture in their development, as regulations emerge in many countries and the technology becomes affordable enough for mass use.

Despite the visceral response that many have to the idea of “eyes in the sky”, interest is building in using UAVs in humanitarian response. Manufacturers are marketing UAVs as “life-saving technology” for humanitarians to build legitimacy, as a new generation of start-ups is developing technology for humanitarian use.

Portable micro-UAVs have already been deployed by humanitarian actors in Haiti and the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda for mapping, improved situational awareness and needs assessment. While primary uses are data-collection and monitoring, research is underway on the delivery of goods, particularly smaller items such as vaccines.

Peacekeeping and military actors are also increasingly interested in using UAVs to support mission mandates, including the protection of civilians. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) recently began using its own long-range UAVs for reconnaissance and data-gathering tasks, and has made these capacities available to humanitarian agencies.

This move from speculation to reality raises challenging questions around regulation, safety, privacy and how to best integrate UAVs into humanitarian response. Answering these questions will require developing coherent policies, legal frameworks and good practices for engaging with affected communities.

This report will outline potential uses of UAVs in humanitarian response and emerging issues. It will also consider how humanitarians should engage with the capacities offered by UAVs used by peacekeepers or militaries in humanitarian contexts. The report will not cover the legal and ethical implications of armed UAVs or other autonomous weapons systems, although the continuing debate over their use in armed attacks will surely have an impact on the acceptance of civilian uses.