I am this morning in Cebu City, readying to move out mid-morning with an aid distribution of hygiene kits (toothbrushes, soap, blankets) and water kits (storage containers, water treatment solution) to Daanbantayan, northern Cebu.
Even though access is now improving, health concerns continue to increase, with urgent need for safe drinking water and medical assistance, especially in Leyte and Samar.
Our teams have returned from four days of assessment and say that what they have seen is deeply troubling. Two teams are left there as the chopper could not land due to the torrential rains. Their food rations are short but they are fortunate to have the option of leaving soon.
Clockwise from top: Life-saving aid being loaded onto lorries from Oxfam's distribution centre. These hygiene kits include items such as toothbrushes, blankets, underwear and soap. The Oxfam bucket has been used in our emergency response around the world. It has a built-in cap and spigot (part of the tap) to keep water clean. These amazing 'life saver' boxes are a new addition to Oxfam's emergency kit. When the handle is pumped, the built-in filter turns dirty water into water that is safe to drink.
People are lined up in Tacloban we are told, waiting for emergency food distribution, in the torrential rains. There are reports of security problems and looting, but also that people are ‘getting stuff because they need it – they are sharing stuff around.’
As the days grow and basic requirements are held up, inevitably and understandably people’s capacity to cope will erode. Clean water, food and shelter – the absolute basics are critical.
Above: Oxfam Eastern Samar Rapid Assessment Team covering the areas of Barangay Batang for emergency drinking water distribution and an assessment of Guiuan Poblacion. Photos: Jire Carreon
There are always stories that are heartening and give you hope out of this horror. Oxfam is bringing in many items of aid, including hygiene kits, water kits, clean up tools and other things.
Local people active in relief efforts
Cebu resident Mani Osmena and her family have donated their Cebu warehouse to Oxfam to help get aid speedily dispatched to typhoon-affected areas.
She said: “Everybody needs help, and this is the least we could do. Why does a charity need to pay [for warehouse space] when they are only giving to help the needy?”
Her family is also identifying volunteers to go out with the workers to help with the disbursement of emergency hygiene kits.
They are keen to help with logistics where they can. The aid community is in town, but we should not forget the strong civil society groups and the many amazing people directly and indirectly affected themselves who also are rising to the challenge of this disaster.