“The water was neck deep!” said Samrah Taha, recalling the flooding that ravaged her village of Baranguay Pamalian in the southernmost island of the Philippines, Mindanao in June 2011. ”When the flood water rushed in, we constructed a tent because we were afraid that our child would be trapped in the flood, or drown in the water,” added her neighbour, Sittie Guinda.
Mindanao experienced extraordinary rainfall and subsequent flooding from the end of May to mid-June 2011. Within the span of five weeks, four tropical storms and one typhoon hit the island nation, affecting more than 860,000 people. The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, with a developed disaster management capacity. Yet the compounded effects of the numerous storms overwhelmed in-country disaster response mechanisms. The Government soon called for urgent international humanitarian assistance to address immediate humanitarian needs. Many of the flood victims were also affected by the internal armed conflict in Mindanao, which has displaced thousands of people.
“People in central Mindanao are affected by conflict and flooding. It’s essentially a double whammy,” said David Carden, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Philippines.
CERF provides timely assistance
Donor allocations for humanitarian activities in the Philippines are limited, partially because of the country’s designation as a middle-income country, according to Carden. Following a request by the central Government, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) quickly approved the release of US$5 million in funds to kick-start relief efforts.
CERF funds allocated to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided immediate nutrition support by established therapeutic feeding for children with severe acute malnutrition, as well as pregnant women and mothers with babies. UNICEF also delivered time-critical water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to communities to provide clean water and stop the spread of disease.
“The project has been designed to serve the IDPs, especially the people who have been affected by the floods, for them to have water and sanitation and hygiene facilities,” said Marigold Feniza of Action Contre La Faim, a UNICEF implementing partner.
Funds helped the World Food Programme (WFP) deliver emergency food for nearly 500,000 flood-affected people, as well as provide logistics support such as transportation and warehousing. Food was given to the most food-insecure households, including internally displaced persons and returnees.
Support was also provided to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to manage emergency camps, and to distribute shelter materials, cooking equipment and mosquito nets to 500,000 people. Some of this aid was provided by communities themselves. “The community here has helped us build. We provided the facilities and they provided the manpower,” said Ismael Guiamel, IOM Construction Engineer.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provided essential reproductive health services to flood- and conflict-affected people in the region. Dr. Ronaldo Pader, a mobile-clinic Physician working with a UNFPA implementing partner, stated: “We feel obliged to do this because we know that this indeed will be a big help to the community. Not only providing health services, but helping to empower the people. As the saying goes, this is very timely, for ‘If not now, then when? If not us, then who?’.“
Summing up partner support for CERF, Carden said: “Without CERF, it would have meant that the life-saving assistance, certainly for the flood-affected people in central Mindanao, would not have been able to have been provided so quickly.”
CERF allocated $11.3 million to six UN agencies and IOM in the Philippines to respond to natural disasters and conflict-related emergencies in 2011. More than 1 million people benefited from CERF funds.
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