Philippines aid on move despite ‘impossible situation’
Published on 14 November 2013 04:30 PM
Life-saving aid is ‘on the move' in the Philippines despite aid agencies facing tremendous obstacles in getting water, food and shelter to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, says the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC).
This includes 2,000 age-friendly food packages funded by donations to Age International's appeal. Age International is Age UK's charitable subsidiary and a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. The packages contain rice, noodles, salt, oil and dry fish. One of these packages will feed a family for a whole week.
Emergency kits are also being organised which contain essential equipment, including blankets, mosquito nets, flashlights and first aid supplies.
‘Logistical challenges are huge'
Narrow roads, strewn with heavy debris and in many cases impassable by vehicles, are the biggest obstacle facing aid agencies in getting emergency supplies to the 11 million people affected by the disaster.
This has led to many aid workers carrying out assessments on foot, walking for hours across rough terrain. One agency has sent mountain bikes to Tacloban, one of the worst affected areas, so its team can cross roads destroyed by landslides.
Further challenges include the airport in Tacloban being too small for aid agencies to fly in the volume of water, food and shelter materials needed and sea ports either being closed or too congested. As a result, aid planes are being flown to Manila and Cebu, and some agencies are requesting army helicopters to access the hardest to reach communities.
The geographical landscape of the Philippines - effectively a collection of islands - has caused further logistical challenges for aid agencies trying to get aid supplies to remote areas.
Saleh Saeed, Chief executive of the DEC, said: ‘In a seemingly impossible situation, aid agencies are finding ways to get life-saving aid to those who need it. The logistical challenges are huge, but with the support of UK donations we are overcoming them.
Super-typhoon Haiyan crashed into the Philippines in the early hours of 8 November. It was one of the strongest storms to ever hit land, anywhere in the world.
It has caused immense wreckage and has affected over 11 million people with many stranded without food or shelter.
The Philippines government is experienced in dealing with the effects of storms, but the devastation caused by the typhoon is unprecedented, and the government, army and police have lost a significant number of staff; killed bereaved or otherwise impacted by the disaster.
A huge international humanitarian operation is in operation and the UK's response is being organised through the DEC. The organisation brings 14 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis to collectively raise money to reach those in need quickly. All members support the appeal and 13 of 14 are responding either directly or through partner organisations.
How Age International and its partners are responding
As a member of the DEC, Age International is working through their overseas implementing partner HelpAge and the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE).
The immediate needs of older people in the Philippines - food, water, shelter - are their priority, and they have already started providing food, shelter and essentials to older people affected by the disaster. Most recently 2,000 age-friendly food packages have been sent out.
Their response will later turn towards long-term rehabilitation programmes, such as setting up Older People's Associations. These are an effective way of connecting the local population and were used to send early warnings to older people before the disaster struck.