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Funding shortfall brings health, food security risks, UN warns

A policeman tries to control a mob of cold and hungry flood survivors during a relief distribution campaign by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Muntinlupa district, south of Manila
(Jason Gutierrez/IRIN)

The UN has warned of serious health risks and food security problems over a lack of funding to assist the Philippines after the country was hit by three major storms and typhoons.

“The emergency response is being hampered by low levels of funding, particularly in areas such as agriculture, protection, shelter and education of children,” Jacqueline Badcock, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines, said in a statement on 18 November.

The UN launched a flash appeal for US$74 million in Manila on 7 October after tropical storm Ketsana flooded the nation’s capital and outlying regions in late September.

Before the country could recover, Typhoon Parma hit on 3 October, and then Typhoon Mirinae on 31 October, bringing widespread damage and misery. The additional devastation, which has affected 10 million people, led to a revised appeal this week of $143.7 million from humanitarian agencies.

Donors have only handed over $26 million in funding to date – about 36 percent of the original $74 million requested, or 18.6 percent of the revised $143.7 million, according to the UN.

If funding levels do not increase substantially, about 1.7 million people living in or displaced from areas that are still flooded face serious health and protection risks, warned Badcock’s office.

Some 350,000 people may not be able to return to or rebuild their homes and more than one million children may not be able to resume their education, it said.

The disasters severely affected the critical planting season in Northern Luzon, the country’s main agricultural region, and preliminary assessments cited in the revised appeal showed some 100,000-120,000 farming households had lost 100 percent of their production and assets.

''The emergency response is being hampered by low levels of funding, particularly in areas such as agriculture, protection, shelter and education of children''

“The November planting season might be missed, which has longer-term implications for food security,” the statement added.

In a separate interview, Badcock told IRIN that donors had been waiting for more information about the scale of damage caused, and that the first appeal had not fully assessed the extent of the devastation.

“The extent of the appeal and the damage was not really well understood by everybody until all the assessments were done,” she said.

“This revised [appeal] has a lot more analysis … we hope it will provide more clarity and confidence to the donors that these are real needs."

Early recovery

The total revised amount of $143,774,080 will cover the immediate and early recovery needs of 4.2 million people, including more than 520,000 children under the age of five. This is twice the population covered under the original appeal.

The revised appeal is planned to run until March 2010 and is being presented on 18 November to donors and the government in Manila, UN officials said.

“The urgent needs remain the people who live in evacuation centres, who need continuing assistance with food and shelter,” said Badcock.

“Then there are farms where the water is going down. We need to get those farmers rehabilitated and planting out for the next season, and their families need food for the next three months because they lost their harvest,” she said.

“Water and sanitation remain critical, particularly in the flooded areas, where there are huge Filariasis and Dengue concerns.”

Early recovery efforts are needed to assist people in restoring their livelihoods, as well as fully restoring schools that are damaged or being used as evacuation centres, she said.

The appeal is being made by UN agencies, NGOs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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