Philippine floods: what families need
Friday 14 September 2012
Written by Jessa Serna, Food Security and Livelihoods Adviser, Save the Children
As a Food Security and Livelihoods Adviser for Emergencies, I am always deployed in rapid emergencies where Save the Children is working. This time I was working in my own country for the flood response.
It’s never easy to face the challenges of working in dire conditions. Calumpit National High School is one of the evacuation centres in Bulacan province.
The evacuation centre is terribly overcrowded and children are lying everywhere. People who could not be accommodated inside classrooms are squeezed into small spaces in the open court where cooking utensils, pots and clothes are scattered everywhere.
To make matters worse, most evacuation centres only have one toilet facility for hundreds of evacuees. The lack of concern for proper waste disposal is aggravated by the fact that waste is left to float in floodwaters, which has been locally dubbed as ‘flying saucers’.
The stench is unbearable. The situation might be tolerable for adults, but not to the young who are suffering from colds, coughs and water-borne diseases like diarrhoea and scabies.
Furthermore, children have no proper ventilation, no nets and blankets to shield them from mosquitos and cold weather and no access to clean drinking water.
This is the kind of situation that Save the Children responds to. As we help the children and families of Bulacan, our hard work is instantly paid off with the simple but very touching “thank you”.
Getting people’s lives back on track
Apart from food and clean drinking water, another pressing need of families is a source of income. Most families in evacuation centres are either very poor or jobless.
I was touched by the story of Rosana, whose husband is a construction worker. Rosana told me that his income isn’t even enough to tide them over under normal circumstances, and now they need money for repairs since their house was damaged by the flood.
With a low voice, Rosana explained to me, “Construction materials are so expensive and I don’t even know where to get our next meal.”
Rosana tried her best to smile, but I saw the worry and sadness in her eyes.
Rosana’s situation is truly disheartening. People like Rosana need to be empowered to get their lives back so they don’t have to endure this yearly problem of floods caused by climate change and the cyclical problems of poverty.
If you would like to support our work in emergencies, please donate to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, which allows us to respond quickly when disaster strikes.