Real lives



Typhoon Yolanda diary: From the field in Tacloban

by Kent Page, Senior Advisor Communication Adviser, UNICEF Philippines

©UNICEF Philippines/2013/THozumi
Amidst the rubble and destruction in Tacloban, water from functioning water points help provide a source of fun, cleanliness, washing and good hygiene for typhoon-affected people.

It's great to be part of the UNICEF immediate response team that was rushed into the Philippines after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda. We are a group of emergency professionals specializing in health, education, child protection, water and sanitation, supply, logistics, indication and other issues.

I was out today with the RTE Irish TV crew and later on with the German ZDF-TV crew, bumping into the Spanish ANC newspaper correspondent along the way as we saw visited victims of the typhoon who have truly lost everything. There is nothing left of their homes or belongings. Well, they haven't lost everything – I am inspired by their kindness and hopeful outlook in the face of devastation.

Sitting in the blazing heat and humidity in front of what indiscernibly was once her home, a woman wished me a good morning with a big smile as I walked by, followed by a "Happy Yolanda!" and a peal of laughter. I asked her how she was and she said "Things can only get better!" She then asked me how I was doing. We talked for a bit as another body bag truck passed by with their distinct smell. She didn't bat an eyelid.

UNICEF and its partners are making progress in the life-saving area of water and sanitation, with water now pumping out of 30,000 water points across the city, providing water for drinking, washing and cleaning. Portalets are being distributed for good sanitation and hygiene kits are in full use everywhere they've been distributed – life-saving interventions that can help prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

There is progress, but much more still needs to be done and the whole UNICEF family is working together with our partners and the government to accelerate that progress. We are very grateful for all the support and generosity of individuals, governments and private sector organizations around the world.



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