By Kathryn McConnell
IIP Staff Writer
12 November 2013
Following a formal request by the Philippine government, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires for the U.S. Embassy in Manila Brian Goldbeck declared a disaster in the country and announced the immediate release of $10 million in U.S. funds to provide health, water and sanitation support to those affected by the typhoon.
The assistance “will not only provide lifesaving care in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but will also help prevent illness and death from waterborne and communicable diseases,” U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said November 11.
USAID is working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Pacific Command, which has forces arriving in the Philippine capital of Manila to support the transport of emergency supplies to storm-affected areas. The first shipment of sanitary supplies for 10,000 families is on its way to the region, and a second shipment of the same size will follow.
The storm’s rains triggered widespread flooding and landslides in the central area of the country, particularly in Eastern Samar and Leyte provinces, with additional damage reported in Bohol, Cebu and Samar provinces. An estimated 9.7 million people were affected by the storm, which has resulted in at least 1,774 deaths, according to a November 11 USAID fact sheet. However, some media reports contain projections of more than 10,000 fatalities. USAID reports that the typhoon damaged or destroyed 23,200 houses and displaced 615,770 people.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
The day following the storm’s landfall, two United Nations disaster assessment and coordination teams, in coordination with Philippine authorities, deployed to the city of Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, to conduct humanitarian assessments. Initial surveys indicated significant damage to coastal areas and agricultural land. U.S. military aircraft also are supporting disaster assessments of the affected areas.
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 2.5 million people in the Philippines need emergency food assistance. The United States has provided $10 million to the WFP for 55 metric tons of emergency food assistance. The food aid will have enough calories to nourish approximately 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for up to five days.
As of November 11, the food was in the capital city of Manila ready for airlift to Tacloban. The emergency food aid will be followed by targeted distribution of rice, vegetable oil and pulses once the supply of safe drinking water has been restored.
WFP is leading the logistics side of the international response with staff in Tacloban. It is mobilizing mobile storage units, temporary offices and generators that will allow its workers to set up operational hubs at Tacloban and Cebu airports.
Shah noted that before the storm, USAID prepositioned a disaster assistance response team in the region, arriving ahead of other international government assessment teams. Also before the storm, the Philippine government evacuated 792,000 people to emergency shelters; prepositioned emergency food, water and other supplies; and deployed military assets and road-clearing equipment.
Shah said the United States will work with its partners in the Philippines and around the world to reach those in need and support their recovery. “We remain committed to ensuring that our assistance not only saves lives today, but reduces the risk of disaster tomorrow,” he said.