December is usually a festive time that brings a nice, cold breeze and long nights. But the ending of 2021 was far from serene as the harsh winds and violent waves of super typhoon Rai (local name Odette) left a trail of devastation in parts of Visayas and Mindanao.
One month later, communities continue to struggle to rebuild lost homes and livelihoods. Plan International, together with funders, will sustain its response operations to aid the recovery of hundreds of displaced families in Southern Leyte.
OVERCOMING ROADBLOCKS TO REACH AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
“We thought we weren’t going to make it out alive because of how strong the wind and the rain were, and there was also a storm surge similar to super typhoon Yolanda,” recounts Pia, a 61-year-old resident of San Ricardo, Southern Leyte.
Super typhoon Rai made landfall in the Philippines on 16 December 2021. Overnight, it devastated more than 8,500 barangays and displaced around 2.2 million families.
In the aftermath, communication lines went down, electricity was cut, and landslide debris blocked many of the roads that Plan International’s Emergency Response Team attempted to traverse.
This hygiene kit is really a big help for adolescent girls like me.
In Southern Leyte where the team established a base of operations for the initial response, the team conducted a rapid gender and needs assessment while supporting the efforts of local government units in gathering information about the state of the residents.
“We were hearing reports that (Southern Leyte) was really devastated,” says Emergency Preparedness and Response Officer, Dale Frances Cañezal.
“We were taking pictures and someone recognised us (as Plan International). This lady asked if we would be able to reach her area. Her Barangay was one of the areas in San Ricardo that was cut off because of a landslide. She had to travel to the Municipal Hall by foot because they were running out of food already.”
Through funding from the European Union and in close coordination with local government units, the response team was soon able to reach over 6,000 families in Southern Leyte.
By 28 December 2021, Plan International had distributed over 3,000 hygiene kits and over 3,000 water kits with funding from European Union Humanitarian Aid. The EU is also funding multi-purpose cash transfers in affected areas which will be distributed in the coming weeks.
“We were a sponsored family when Plan International was operating here. Our community savings group which is still functional is a big help since we were able to buy shelter materials to repair our house through the money we saved. And with the hygiene and water kits the EU gave us, we can afford to buy food and other necessities,” says Evalyn, a resident of Southern Leyte.
PRIORITISING THE NEEDS OF GIRLS
Plan International recognises the specific needs of children, particularly girls, which are not commonly prioritised in disaster response operations. As part of our response, we have provided 3,000 menstrual health management kits to girls and young women.
“I had my period when our community was hit by Typhoon Odette and I only used cloth as my menstrual pad,” shares 16-year-old Carmie. “This kit is really a big help for adolescent girls like me.”
Jam, 16, says, “I feel there is a lack of support for young women who are menstruating, especially in times of calamity. Right now, our livelihood is affected so we sometimes cannot purchase what we need so we just use cloth, though it easily bleeds through.”
Aside from supporting girls and young women with their reproductive health needs, Plan International, through the support of Pru Life UK and the Prudence Foundation, is also providing psychosocial support to children and youth in affected areas.
Through the establishment of women-friendly spaces, we are sharing information on violence against women and children and explaining how to report and respond to instances of abuse. Our child-friendly spaces are also keeping children safe and offering them emotional support.
Plan International will continue to provide support in affected areas in the coming months as the country rebuilds after Typhoon Rai. Consultations with partners and communities in affected areas are ongoing to ensure children, especially girls and young women, are not left behind in rehabilitation efforts.
With funding from UNICEF, UNFPA, Global Affairs Canada, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Plan International Philippines will focus its continued response operations on:
- Water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Keeping children safe
- Preventing gender-based violence
- Sexual and reproductive health and rights
- COVID-19 prevention and control
- Cash voucher programming.
The ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ (REACH) Project is funded by European Union Humanitarian Aid and is implemented by ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger, CARE Philippines, Community Organizers Multiversity, IDEALS Inc., Plan International Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), United Youth of the Philippines – Women Inc. and Oxfam Filipinas.