This week, I focus on the aftermath of the typhoon that hit the Philippines last Friday. One of the strongest storms to ever hit the archipelago, the typhoon is known as Yolanda within the Philippines and is called Haiyan internationally. Background and Geography
“Typhoon” is the name for a hurricane that forms in the northwest Pacific Ocean. The Philippines has been hit by four typhoons this year alone, and Haiyan is the third Super Typhoon (roughly equivalent to Category Five in the Atlantic) to bring destruction to the islands in the past five years. The Philippines is particularly susceptible to typhoons because of its location in the warm, tropical Pacific.
Haiyan wreaked havoc on some areas more than others. Ormoc, Leyte and Tacloban, Samar were hit particularly hard.
Extent of the human cost and property damage
The UN estimates that 11.8 million Filipinos were affected by Haiyan, though the country’s government estimates far fewer. Nearly one million people have been displaced and 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance.
As of this morning, the Official Gazette of the Office of the President of the Philippines reports:
- 2,360 dead
- 3,853 injured
- 77 missing
- 253,049 houses damaged (136,247 totally / 117,802 partially)
- All bridges and roads that were previously unpassable are now open
- Some areas do not have clean water: Capiz and Iloilo, and the Municipality of Barbaza, Antique, in particular
- Electricity and cell communications are spotty
- Food, shelter and medical care are in short supply
Countries providing aid (not comprehensive)
Asian Development Bank: $500 million emergency loans and $23 million in grants
Australia: A$30 millon ($28 million)
China: 10m yuan ($1.6million) in relief goods plus $200,000 from government and Red Cross
European Commission: $11 million
Indonesia: Logistical aid including aircraft, food, generators and medicine
Japan: $50 million, 25-person medical team
South Korea: $5 million, 40-person medical team
UAE: $10 million
UK: $32 million aid package, sending aircraft carrier
US: $20 million, 300 military personnel, aircraft carrier
Potential health concerns
Filipinos are now at risk of tetanus, acute respiratory infections, measles, leptospirosis, and typhoid. Implementing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, starting a measles vaccine campaign, and restoring the vaccine cold chain are priorities for the Department of Health. In particular, an oral polio vaccine campaign is necessary but cannot be started because there is no way to keep the vaccine cold. An estimated 70,000 pregnant and lactating women and 112,000 children need food. There are limited mental health services to help people begin processing loss and grief. For a far more extensive breakdown, see this report from the UN’s OCHA Philippines.
What can we do to help?
The best thing to do is send money. Choose your favorite organization and give as much as you can. I suggest these organizations for their reliability and proven track record of relief:
- Philippines Red Cross
- American Red Cross
- National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (Philippines’ disaster relief agency)