ENSURING A GENDER-SENSITIVE HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE
This inter-agency Gender Alert highlights key issues affecting women, men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, after Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) hit the Philippines on 16 December 2021, and it supports humanitarian sectors to better respond to immediate needs and implement longer-term measures for recovery.
Super Typhoon Rai brought torrential rains, violent winds, landslides and storm surges that caused severe and widespread damage throughout the southern Philippines on 16 December 2021. The storm swept through 11 of the 17 regions of the country, causing 405 deaths, affecting 11.9 million people and damaging 2.1 million houses. The provinces of Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands in Mindanao, and five provinces of Visayas and the island of Palawan in Luzon suffered widespread devastation. Three months after the typhoon hit, many people are still displaced. Many families that lost their homes now reside in evacuation centres or with relatives.
As revealed by inter-agency community consultations, priority needs include shelter, food and livelihoods, and women participants in community-engagement mechanisms have stressed the need for longer-term livelihood support. As vulnerability increases and humanitarian action intensifies so does the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse, and it is critical that the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse is accelerated and integrated into all humanitarian actions and responses.
Recovery measures should include longer-term development of institutions that provide health services, to strengthen the capacity of all health workers through training on psychological first aid and the implementation of gender-based violence (GBV) referral mechanisms. Longer-term preventative measures are also required to reduce rising rates of teenage pregnancy and GBV.
There is a need for targeted support for adolescent boys and girls who suffered the mental health impact of COVID-19 as well as the typhoon. Research from Plan International shows the impact of the pandemic on adolescent mental health issues, including anxiety, due to possible or actual loss of family income, illness among family members, inability to access timely information and loss of socialization opportunities. Youth-friendly spaces and health information to reduce the risks of GBV, early and unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases should be continually provided.