UNICEF prioritizes the hardest-hit children as Typhoon Yolanda-damaged communities move down the road to recovery
MANILA, 6 February 2014 – Three months after a massive typhoon devastated the central Philippines, the long trek back to normalcy for children hardest-hit by Typhoon Yolanda has begun.
With help from UNICEF and its partners, some 420,000 children from the worst-hit areas are now back in school, in repaired, makeshift and tent schools and using learning materials from school-in-a-box, early childhood and recreational kits. The back-to-school campaign will continue to expand focusing on the new school year, which begins in June 2014.
However, much remains to be done to address significant challenges that include continued large-scale displacement of families and communities, damaged infrastructure and lost livelihoods, and increased threat from diseases like dengue and measles.
On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Yolanda laid waste to vast areas in the central Philippines, affecting 14.1 million people, 5.9 million of whom are children. Following a vulnerability assessment, UNICEF – in partnership with local governments – determined to focus most attention on the 40 most severely affected municipalities; home to around 1.34 million people, including 558,000 children.
"Our focus to date has been on providing life-saving aid to those children and communities that were hardest-hit by the Typhoon and who are most at risk," said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines. "We are making real progress, but so much more needs to be done to restore these children's rights and to return to them their chance to fulfill their potential. UNICEF staff are working around-the-clock to provide urgently needed assistance."
Working under the leadership of the Philippine Government and with humanitarian partners and local governments, UNICEF has established a presence in these worst-affected areas to fast-track the delivery of aid and support.
UNICEF and its partners are playing a key role in these areas in the restoration of access to clean water and sanitation, in ensuring immunization against dangerous diseases and fostering child health (with WHO), in addressing maternal and neonatal under-nutrition, in re-establishing education and early childhood development capacities, and in ensuring children are protected from abuse and exploitation.
"Every day we are expanding our support, looking to ensure that every child's needs and rights are met," said Kearney. "And as we provide support, we have one eye on the future, ensuring that everything that is rebuilt is more disaster-resilient, better able to withstand any future calamity."
UNICEF's emergency response planning charts the transition from relief to longer-term recovery assistance. It also provides support to strengthen local and national institution's ability to ensure children's needs are met as part of national and local of disaster risk response and management plans.
Assistance provided to date includes:
Water and sanitation
Measles, dengue and diarrhoea pose risk. With support from UNICEF and its partners, the Department of Health has conducted measles vaccination and is working to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, and to finalize dengue fever preparedness and response plans for the affected regions. Over 4,000 cases of diarrhoea have also been reported in the affected regions, with heavy rain experienced in these areas since the Typhoon exacerbating the situation.
UNICEF is working with the Department of Health, WHO and other partners to increase the capacity of local authorities to prevent outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhoea, dengue fever and other related illnesses, and to build local diagnosis and treatment capacity, including by establishing treatment centres.
Nutrition screening of over 97,000 children under 5 years in the worst-affected areas is now complete. As a result, 159 severely malnourished children have been admitted to therapeutic and supplementary feeding programmes.
Education and Early Childhood Development
A Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification system supported by UNICEF has now verified and reported 92 unaccompanied and separated children, and their circumstances are now being addressed by relevant government authorities. Fifty village community action groups and displaced protection volunteers have been trained to provide greater safety and protection to vulnerable women and children, and this training is being expanded to provide help in eight high-risk evacuation centres and transitory sites.
Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +632 901 0177, Mobile: +63 917 867 8366, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marge Francia, Communication Officer, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +632 901 0173, Mobile: +63 917 858 9447, email@example.com