Typhoon Haiyan survivors' most urgent need: clean water
November 12, 2013 by The IRC
|The devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan is a humanitarian catastrophe. The IRC is on the ground in the Philippines mobilizing an emergency response. Photo: Reuters|
The International Rescue Committee is on the ground in the Philippines mobilizing a humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan.
In a planning call this morning with IRC emergency team members, both in the Philippines and en route, Bob Kitchen, director of the IRC’s emergency preparedness and response unit, described the intense challenges first responders are facing in the devastating wake of Haiyan.
One of the most powerful typhoons on record, the storm raged across the midsection of the archipelago on Friday, displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and affecting a staggering 11.5 million.
With roads, bridges, seaports, and communications knocked out in many areas, it has been difficult for aid groups and the government to reach survivors and assess the true extent of the damage. But what is clear is that the situation is becoming increasingly desperate, with food and water supplies running low.
"People are having a hard time finding uncontaminated water," Kitchen said, stressing that the IRC is especially concerned about the spread of disease. Delivering clean water and safe sanitation and providing health care are the first areas the IRC is focusing on, Kitchen said. "With so many people living in the open at close quarters, we are fighting against the clock."
Kitchen said IRC emergency teams hoped to reach some of the hardest hit areas, including Tacloban and Cebu, by Friday.
Kitchen announced that an emergency protection expert will join the team later this week to help set up programs to assist vulnerable women and children and that a cash for work program would be put in place as soon as is feasible to help provide storm survivors with a source of income.