Written by Joe Lowry - IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Ba Posted online by Robyn Allas
Philippines - IOM’s relief efforts in typhoon-lashed Mindanao gathered pace this week with the start of a distribution of 5,600 family emergency shelter kits to remote and hard-to-access areas.
A further 6,400 kits – consisting of plastic sheets, tools, jerry cans, and kitchen and cooking utensils – will arrive this Thursday, and when distribution is complete some 60,000 people will have benefited.
The relief aid will ease the plight of many of the hundreds of thousands made homeless by Typhoon Bopha, which hit the south of the Philippines on 4th December 2012.
Several international donors have made generous donations to IOM’s appeal for USD 7 million to support shelter, camp coordination and camp management, health, and communication with affected communities. Last week, additional funding of USD 600,000 was received from the Government of the Republic of Korea.
Meanwhile, a “debris-to-shelter” programme has started in the municipalities of Cateel, New Bataan and Trento. It is made up of two components which utilize local materials and labour to fabricate critically needed shelter material.
Local people are being supported to use fallen coconut trees and scattered building material as shelter framing and cross-bracing material. They are also producing nipa palm shingle and amakan (bamboo matting) for wall construction at displacement sites.
This activity also serves as an emergency livelihood to displaced people, the vast majority of whom have lost their sources of income.
The continuation of education is also being facilitated by last week’s distribution of solar lights. Apart from bringing safety to women after dark, the lamps are allowing children to continue their education in two of the worst-affected provinces, Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur.
“We use three flashlights in order for my children to study at night. We are very thankful for the bright solar light. It is a very big help to us,” said Virginia Lacarion, mother of four school children, currently staying in an evacuation centre.
A further 14,400 solar lamps will shortly be distributed in the coming weeks in areas where restoration of electricity may take some time. The water-resistant lights can provide light for up to six hours from one eight-hour charging.