UNICEF Philippines Join Government and Partners Assess Aftermath of Super Typhoon Rolly
700,000 children from over 5,000 barangays (villages) are estimated to have been affected
One week after Super Typhoon Rolly (international name – Goni) struck southern Luzon, Philippines, on 1 November 2020, the damage to communities and disruption to the lives of families and children are becoming clear.
The provinces of Catanduanes and Albay in the Bicol region bear the brunt of impact of the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year to date amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Based from the 9 November assessment report by the government, UNICEF estimates that around 700,000 children from over 5,000 barangays (villages) have been affected.
UNICEF has joined the Philippine Government, fellow UN agencies, and partners on a rapid assessment mission to the most affected areas, with UNICEF co-leading on assessing the impact on affected communities’ health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, and on children’s safety from violence and abuse.
Early findings note that the super typhoon caused disruption of water supply, and damage to toilets and hygiene facilities. Water kits, access to proper sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as essential hygiene products are needed to keep the affected people - especially those seeking shelter in evacuation centres - safe from potential spread of diseases, including COVID-19.
Rolly’s catastrophic winds and torrential rainfall damaged and destroyed several schools; flood waters swept away school supplies, making it difficult for school children to continue their education.
A number of health facilities were also damaged, which affected maintenance of crucial equipment such as cold chain storages for vaccine stocks. Because of this, some areas have suspended immunization services. Meanwhile, most health services have resumed for children and pregnant women.
Even before the typhoon hit, there have already been high rates of malnutrition in the affected areas. Availability of nutrition commodities, and infection prevention and control measures in evacuation centres should be prioritized. While help desks for women and children are being set up in evacuation centres, child-friendly spaces should also be established immediately to prevent children from playing in hazardous areas, and connect them to child protection and mental health services.
As we continue our assessment, we also commend the Philippine Government for implementing pre-emptive evacuations that have saved potentially thousands of lives. Learning from past emergencies significantly improved the readiness of the country’s national agencies and local governments.
We at UNICEF have released priority supplies for initial distribution, including 1,000 family water kits, 500 family hygiene & dignity kits, and 4 drums of chlorine powder for water disinfection. We are preparing teaching kits and learning kits to ensure that affected schoolchildren - especially those who have lost their homes and are temporarily in evacuation centres - can continue their education and their pursuit of a better future.
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