Super typhoon Haima aftermath: Oxfam assesses needs on the ground

October 21, 2016

At least seven are confirmed dead and thousands remain displaced after super typhoon Haima (local name: Lawin) pounded northern parts of the Philippines. 

Haima hit land as a category 4 storm but eventually weakened to category 3 after traversing the mountains of Sierra Madre and the Cordilleras.  Heightened public awareness helped minimize casualties. Authorities implemented the pre-emptive evacuation of over 90,000 people. As of Friday morning, October 21, 51,458 persons or 13,297 families remain displaced. Of the number, 40,515 persons or 10,606 families remain in 334 evacuation centres. While the storm has left the Philippines, residents in mountainous, as well as low-lying areas, are advised to remain on alert for possible landslides and debris in the aftermath of the storm. 

The full extent of the damage, especially in agriculture and infrastructure, is still being assessed. Initial reports found that Haima damaged $538,793 worth of high-value crops in Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and the Mountain province.  

Many communities hit by the storm are agricultural areas. The province of Cagayan, where the storm hit land, is one of the country’s top producer of rice and corn. 

International aid organization Oxfam has fielded teams to assist authorities in coordinating assistance and assessing the immediate needs of the most vulnerable communities in the valleys of Cagayan and Isabela, and the mountainous province of Apayao.  Apayao, where the storm crossed after pounding Cagayan, is one of the poorest provinces in the country, with a poverty incidence of 54.7%. 

Oxfam’s assessment will look at differentiated situation, needs and priorities of men and women as well as sectors affected by typhoon Haima.  Results aim to feed into what different actors should prioritize in order to respond quickly and appropriately to urgent and early recovery needs. 

Country Director Justin Morgan said Oxfam is on standby to help the government in response efforts in the aftermath of the storm. 

"It is crucial to reach and assist the poorest and marginalized communities during disaster situations. These communities are also the most vulnerable to climate change, and as disasters become stronger and more frequent, keeping them on top of priorities in every preparedness, prevention and response measure must be the norm," Morgan said. 

Typhoon Haima is the strongest tropical storm to so far hit the Philippines this year and the second storm to hit in a week after Typhoon Sarika (local name: Karen).

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