Habitat For Humanity Responds To A String Of Natural Disasters In Asia-Pacific

These Include Typhoon Ketsana Which Hit Philippines, Vietnam And Cambodia

MANILA, 8th October 2009: Over the weekend, the devastation caused by Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines was compounded by Typhoon Parma, the second major storm to hit the Philippines in a week. Typhoon Parma pounded the northern Philippines killing 14 people. Meanwhile, the capital city of Manila continues to recover from massive flooding from the first typhoon.

Habitat volunteers taking action to quickly build toilets for hundreds of people housed at Nangka Elementary School in Marikina, one of 515 evacuation centers in Metro Manila.

Heart-warming relief ladled out by Habitat volunteers at a soup kitchen in Nangka Elementary School evacuation center. About 950 people received arroz caldo, a Filipino congee.

Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ staff and volunteers are focusing on providing immediate needs. “Living conditions are dire, as resources are scarce — of these, water and sanitation facilities are the most lacking: there simply aren’t enough to address the needs of the thousands of displaced families,” said Mika Palileo, a Habitat volunteer at Nangka Elementary School, Marikina. The school is one of number of evacuation centers providing temporary shelter to thousands of families.

The first eight sanitation stations at the Nangka center were completed on 5th October while another eight are under-construction in the Malanday center. These are the first of at least 120 toilets to be built in ten evacuation centers under a co-funding partnership between Philippines National Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. The centers identified to date are in Marikina, Pasig and Quezon City, all part of Metro Manila.

Using easy-to-erect steel-frame technology, Global Village volunteers from Shanghai American School, students from Rizal Technological University, Summit Media magazine staff and others helped build the toilets. Palileo explained that even as construction was underway, residents expressed relief that toilets and faucets were being constructed as they were badly needed in the evacuation center.

Providing additional urgent relief, HFH Philippines coordinated the distribution of donated food, clothing, blankets, towels and bedding to more than 500 Habitat homepartner families in Rizal, Tondo, Pasig City, in Metro Manila, who had been affected by severe flooding caused by rains brought on by Typhoon Ketsana.

HFH Philippines also mobilized volunteers to provide soup kitchens in evacuation centers as food supplies were becoming a concern. About 950 individuals staying in the Nangka center were provide arroz caldo, a Filipino congee and local comfort food, courtesy of Friends of Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

Palileo added: “While I was setting up the area soup kitchen area, a little girl named Gelyn went up to ask me what we were doing. I told her we’ll give them free lunch and that she’ll have to line up like the other kids. I will never forget the smile that formed on the little girl’s face, as she asked, ‘Pwede po bang dalawa sa akin? Yung isa para sa kapatid ko (May I have two? The other one is for my sibling)’. I told her yes, and that I will see her later when the food arrives.”

Habitat for Humanity is seeking to raise US2 million for the initial phase of a repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction program in the Philippines. The initial response will involve repairing an estimated 10,000 damaged homes, targeting the poorest 30 per cent of families.

Vietnam: Over the weekend, a Habitat for Humanity rapid assessment team surveyed conditions among affected families in Quang Nam province on the south central coast. Families who lost roofs and whole houses to Typhoon Ketsana’s winds and water were those with substandard dwellings and the least ability to manage the cost of repairs or reconstruction.

Habitat for Humanity’s disaster response manager for the Asia-Pacific area office has arrived on 6th October to assist the national program in planning a response and coordinating with partner organizations.

In Vietnam, the storm was reported to have killed at least 92 people and destroyed more than 365,000 homes, schools and other structures when it passed over the central coast.

Cambodia: Habitat for Humanity Cambodia is working on offering a transitional shelter solution and latrines to assist families displaced by Typhoon Ketsana. A Habitat assessment team visited the worst affected province, Kampong Thom in central Cambodia, where close to 500 houses were damaged. Families left homeless by the typhoon are staying in make-shift tents made of salvaged material, cutting down of small trees and plastic sheets .

More than 4,000 families, mostly farmers, were affected in Kampong Thom. At least nine people lost their lives and 20 people were injured.

HFH Cambodia plans to offer technical assistance and construction know-how to families who are rebuilding their houses. Habitat may also work with existing NGOs in the area that have access to funds for house construction and are looking for a partner with building expertise.