Philippines: Bohol Earthquake Action Plan - October 2013
- A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol province in central Philippines on 15 October 2013.
- Over 344,300 people are displaced with 80 per cent living in makeshift shelters built in open spaces near their damaged homes.
- Government identified emergency shelter, early recovery, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, food, logistics and coordination as top priority areas for support.
- This action plan seeks US$46.8 million to reach 344,300 people over a six-month period until April 2014.
- Successive and simultaneous emergencies since August 2013 have stretched the resources of humanitarian responders. Additional funding is urgently needed for timely aid to reach the right people.
A major emergency response operation is underway in central Philippines following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol island on 15 October 2013 at 8:12 a.m. local time, at a depth of 32 kilometres. The tremor recorded level VII out of X (‘destructive’ with level X as ‘completely devastating’) on the Philippine earthquake intensity scale at the epicenter in Sagbayan municipality (population of 20,000 people), and it was felt across the Central Visayas region (population of 6.8 million), according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). This is the strongest earthquake to hit Bohol in nearly 25 years, possibly caused by a fault line unknown until the disaster.
Municipalities in northwest Bohol were hardest-hit. At least 2,500 aftershocks were recorded since the first powerful earthquake with 64 tremors strong enough to be felt. The epicenter of these aftershocks is gradually moving northwest towards Cebu island, and the tremors measuring levels II to III (‘slightly felt’ to ‘weak’) are expected to continue for another two to three weeks.
A total of 195 people died, 651 injured and 12 still missing. The majority of casualties are reported in Bohol, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The death toll could have been far worse if the earthquake struck on a regular weekday and not on a national holiday. Nevertheless, the earthquake caused landslides and extensive damage to housing, hospitals, schools, infrastructure and utilities, with more than 53,300 houses severely damaged or destroyed. The number may still rise once emergency service teams are able to verify the data in all the affected areas.
More than 344,300 people are displaced, of whom 71,400 people (or 20 per cent) are staying in 99 evacuation centres. The rest are living outside their collapsed homes in open spaces, roadsides and gardens or collectively in public spaces close to their homes, afraid that further quakes will bring down buildings. The families are building makeshift shelters from salvaged materials and plastic sheeting. The main humanitarian needs are food, drinking water, tents, hygiene kits, sanitation facilities, sleeping materials, fuel, medicines and medical equipment, and psychosocial support, which the Government, civil society and humanitarian actors are urgently mobilizing. Further, awareness of the warning signs in danger areas due to fissures and soil failure, should be raised among affected families.
The provinces of Bohol and Cebu declared a state of calamity on 15 October. The economy of Bohol is largely based on agriculture, with tourism playing an increasingly important role. Airports and seaports resumed operations quickly, and by 21 October, access to most municipalities was restored. Telecommunications have also resumed normal service. However, 40 per cent of the households across the province are still without power, which is disrupting access to safe drinking water and the cold chain for medicines. Classes have been suspended at least until 28 October, and education will heavily rely on temporary learning spaces until school buildings are reestablished. Structural assessment and clearance of public buildings and residences are urgently needed.
The provincial authorities are leading the relief effort with the support of national government. By the second week of the disaster, search and rescue teams shifted to recovery operations, and the restoration of damaged roads and bridges, power and water systems is ongoing. Having distributed food to meet the immediate needs of the affected people in the hardest-hit areas, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) together with local government units is now on the second cycle of food pack distribution to reach all people in need. Meanwhile, the Department of Health provided assorted drugs and medicines, and sent medical/surgical teams to the worst-affected municipalities. The Philippine Red Cross, non-governmental organizations, charities and volunteers are also delivering assistance.
Despite the efforts, additional response is needed. On 21 October, the NDRRMC Chairperson welcomed international humanitarian assistance earlier offered by the Humanitarian Coordinator on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). This action plan outlines urgent needs; planned actions and funding requirement for this emergency in line with the Government’s priorities (see section on Priority Needs and Actions). Fourteen UN agencies, IOM, non-governmental organizations and partners are seeking US$46.8 million to implement 23 projects across 13 sectors over a three to six month period to deliver aid to 344,300 people. The action plan will be revised towards the end of November 2013 to incorporate more complete and in-depth assessments.
Reconstruction and recovery will take time, and recovery planning is critical at the early stages of the response. Early recovery is reflected in the document, closely tied to priority shelter activities. However, the implementation of longer-term solutions that will take more than six months, such as access to land, housing and property issues, is outside the scope of this action plan.
The Philippines was affected by successive, multiple and simultaneous disasters in recent months. Humanitarian actors are responding to the protracted conflict situation in central Mindanao, the crisis in western Mindanao (September) and widespread flooding caused by the southwest monsoon rains and multiple typhoons (since August). Twenty-one tropical cyclones were recorded this year and more are expected before the typhoon season ends in December. Northeast monsoons prevail in the earthquake-affected areas until December, which will further exacerbate the situation of the affected and vulnerable people.
With resources stretched, the humanitarian agencies are focused on ensuring an effective, needs-based response under the leadership of the Government. HCT’s targeted support will complement Government’s response capacity. This initial action plan draws on the findings of rapid needs assessments undertaken jointly by the Government and the HCT members as well as by clusters, individual agencies, the Philippine Red Cross and donors. Details of the assessments are available at: https://philippines.humanitarianresponse.info/assessmentregistry/table/locations/bohol. Additional assessments are ongoing and planned to fill information gaps.