More than a week after Typhoon Phanfone (locally named Ursula) made initial landfall in Salcedo, Eastern Samar as a category-2 typhoon and crossed the Visayas region, over 2.4 million people in more than 2,700 barangays are affected in regions V, VI, VII, VII, Caraga and MIMAROPA. Sixty percent of those affected are in Region VIII (Easter Visayas) and were previously in the path of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, which caused significant damage in the region.
As of 3 January, over 133,000 people are displaced, of whom 77,800 are taking shelter in 547 evacuation centres and over 55,000 staying with host families or open spaces. The number of displaced is lower than previously reported (145,000 people as of 31 December) as people are gradually returning home to repair their homes and recover from the effects of the typhoon. While classes are scheduled to resume on 6 January after the holiday break, over 440 schools have sustained damage in regions V, VI, VIII, MIMAROPA and CALABARZON, according to the latest National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reports. Learning materials and school equipment that were washed away, and damage to roofing and electrical wiring in classrooms were due to the heavy to sometimes intense rains, strong winds, and storm surges which brought up to waist-deep flooding in some affected regions.
As local authorities continue to assess damage to buildings and infrastructure, the number of houses reported as damaged or destroyed continues to rise, with over 431,000 houses listed as damaged, out of which over 107,000 are registered as destroyed. Nearly 90 per cent of the destroyed houses are in Region VI (Western Visayas) and Region VIII (Eastern Visayas). In Tacloban City alone, a city that was significantly affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, over 24,000 houses are reported as damaged. Most of the affected families are vulnerable farming and fishing communities in exposed coastal areas.
The economic damage to infrastructure and agriculture has risen to an estimated PhP3.4 billion (US$67 million) in regions V, VI, VII, VII and MIMAROPA according to the NDRRMC, an increase from P1 billion reported on 31 December. The Department of Agriculture reports that as of 2 January, damage and losses to agriculture is estimated at P3 billion. The production losses on rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries is at 39,461 metric tonnes, affecting over 30,700 hectare and more than 84,000 farmers and fisherfolk in affected regions.
Government response and humanitarian coordination
The national government is leading the response, assisted by the Red Cross and with the Office of Civil Defense coordinating with the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and local authorities, to provide food and other relief assistance to affected communities, which to date is valued at over P56 million ($1.1 million). Mobile, phone and electricity services are gradually being restored in affected communities. DSWD is continuing the distribution of food packs, which usually consist of six kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of meat loaf or corned beef and six packets of instant coffee. In some areas that were hit by Typhoon Tisoy last month, calamity funds are stretched, and food and relief assistance may last only for a limited amount of time.
Humanitarian partners with programmes on the ground are conducting initial damage assessments in affected areas and have identified food, potable water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and shelter materials as priority needs of affected families. Families have begun repairs to their damaged homes but continue to camp in open areas or stay in makeshift tents sleeping on the ground and exposed to various elements. Some families report bringing their children to neighbors to sleep at night for safety. Due to the lack of shelter and sanitation facilities, affected families are vulnerable to health and protection issues. Livelihoods are also a concern, as affected farmers, fisherfolk and informal workers have limited financial means to cope with economic losses and have expressed their need for food and shelter assistance and livelihood support in the long-term.
OCHA, on behalf of the Philippines Humanitarian Country Team, remains in contact with national authorities and ready to support should that be required.