Leyte, Philippines – Urgent government action is needed to secure food and income for thousands of farmers and fisher men and women affected by typhoon Haiyan, said Oxfam and local partners.
This call comes at the six month mark since Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall, hit the Philippines, affecting the lives of 14 million people.
The call urges the government to include fast-tracking coconut trees clearing, restoring destroyed coral reefs and seabeds, and investing in small-scale aquaculture and seaweed farming. It also calls for the construction of safe evacuation centres and contingency plans ahead of the next typhoon season. Barely a month before the next typhoon season starts, 40 per cent of disaster-affected households still live in makeshift shelters, and in Eastern Samar only 8 per cent of evacuation centres are functional.
A total of 600 leaders of farmers and fisher groups from across Leyte, supported by NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR), Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and international aid organization Oxfam, welcomed the government’s 90-day target of clearing 390,000 trees. However, this represents only 3 per cent of the 13 million totally damaged trees that need to be cleared in the Eastern Visayas alone.
Leo Roozendaal, Oxfam’s Asia Deputy Regional Director, said: “The reality facing many poor people is that they are going to build back worse – not better. The initial emergency response delivered timely emergency relief, but we cannot rest on this good work. The government is talking about the difficult issues that need to be tackled, such as relocation and alternative ways to earn income whilst fishing and coconut industries recover, but there is not enough action.
“Farmers and fisher men and women urgently need support for the next phase of recovery. Strong leadership is needed at all levels to speed up the recovery programs and help the poorest people get back on their feet.”
Ann Witteveen, Humanitarian Manager at Oxfam Canada, said: "Canada and Canadians were amongst the most generous in the world in their support to the needs of people immediately after Typhoon Haiyan. Countless lives were saved and suffering greatly reduced.
"However, fully recovering from such a devastating crisis and ensuring the next big storm doesn’t wreak new havoc will take some time. The international community still has a role to play to support the Philippines government to put in place effective risk reduction measures such as the construction of safe evacuation centres and the installation of early warning systems in cities and municipalities not equipped with these."
Oxfam has assisted over 730,000 people with immediate water, sanitation and hygiene materials, cash grants and cash for work schemes, rice seeds, boat building and seaweed farming initiatives, and the provision of mosquito nets, mother and newborn kits and emergency shelter materials.
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