Real lives



UNICEF providing life essentials for families affected by Typhoon Pablo

© UNICEF Philippines/2012/JMaitem
Typhoon Pablo survivor Benita Baucan, 37, holds her baby boy Dominick, 1, who is suffering from diarrhoea at the evacuation centre in the town of New Bataan, Compostela Province, Philippines.

by Marge Francia and Angela Travis

New Bataan, Southern Philippines. In the aftermath of Super Typhoon Pablo, as search and rescue efforts continue and corpses are still being retrieved from the mud, UNICEF is supporting government efforts to provide clean water and sanitary toilets to the most affected families, many of whom are living in the open, with minimal shelter.

The most affected populations stretch over three provinces, a large area with both coastal communities and remote mountainous areas, making coverage and reach significant challenges. And with families using contaminated or untreated water sources, there are the beginnings of an increase in diarrhoea cases among children.

Before the floods Benita Baucan, 37, lived in the rural town of New Bataan, Compostela Valley with her husband, Maximo a farmer, and her four children. The family were lucky to survive the torrent of water and mud that was unleashed on the small farming community , and are now living in the town gymnasium. Benita’s youngest son, Dominic, 1, has been suffering from diarrhea for 3 days and is now weak and lethargic.

“ We were in a hurry, the water was muddy and dirty, and there were a lot of logs being carried by the mud. We only had some clothes with us, all of our possessions were washed away. We tried going back to our house; it was still standing but it doesn’t have a roof anymore. It’s filled with mud, so we decided to go back to the gym because the house is not livable anymore,” explained Benita.

“ Since we escaped we have been staying here at the evacuation centre. Life is so hard here especially as we have small children; it’s dirty and smelly here. We are able to receive food here. I feed Dominic with lugaw (rice porridge). I have my eldest son fetch water for us. Dominic has been having diarrhea for three days now, he seems weak. We went to the doctors here in the centre and were told to give him lots of water ” she said, visibly worried for her son. “ I am just thankful that we are all alive and complete. We had a neighbor who died when their house toppled on him/her” she added.

Typhoon affected teen Jeffrey Baucan (center in purple shirt) helps his mother with chores while they live in an evacuation centre in Compostela Valley, after Super Typhoon Pablo struck the Philippines. UNICEF is providing assistance to the families affected by Super Typhoon Pablo with a focus on ensuring clean water supply, providing temporary sanitation, nutrition and child protection. ©UNICEF Philippines/2012/JMaitem

In the aftermath of the floods, Jeffrey, Benita’s oldest son who celebrated his 16th birthday in the evacuation centre, has taken on a lot of responsibilities for the family.

“Here in the evacuation centre I play basketball, help my mother out, I cook sometimes. I also volunteer to carry donations, sometimes they give me something in return for my help - goods or food, ” Jeffrey said, quite proud.

But then he looked sad, “ Because of the floods we don’t have classes. Our school was also destroyed, it’s smelly and a lot of trees fell on our school. My notebooks were swept away, even my school uniform. I’m in fourth year now, I want to go back to school because I want to graduate. I want to be a lawyer someday”.

UNICEF is providing family water kits with supplies to purify water for 2 months, and hygiene kits with soap and toothpaste, for improved hygiene. UNICEF is also setting up temporary sanitary toilets in communities, and disseminating information about good hygiene. UNICEF is working with NGO partners and the Department of Health to provide essential medicines, including ORS for the treatment of diarrhoea.

Background on the disaster

In the early hours of 4 December, Typhoon Pablo,  hit the east coast of Mindanao in the south of the Philippines. It was the 16th and most powerful typhoon to hit the country in 2012. The Government of the Philippines initiated preparedness measures as early as 30 November, and since Pablo struck on 4 December it has been leading the response. On 7 December, the President of the Philippines declared a national state of calamity and accepted the offer of international assistance. UNICEF is appealing for at $12.9 million covering needs in the areas of Water and Sanitation, Nutrition, Education and Child Protection.

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