Church World Service Issues Update on Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts

Photo courtesy of ACT Alliance/Christian Aid
Devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Iloilo, the Philippines.

Church World Service (CWS) has issued an update on relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan, which has devastated parts of the Philippines and also hit Vietnam. CWS is one of the ecumenical partners with which Brethren Disaster Ministries works to aid survivors of disasters.

Typhoon Haiyan, now being referred to as a “super typhoon,” made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, affecting most strongly the islands of Leyte and Samar.

CWS has revised its initial appeal for the relief effort, with a new goal of $750,000, expanded from $250,000. Typhoon Haiyan, which also is known with the local name Typhoon Yolanda, “may have been the strongest typhoon on record, with sustained winds of 234 kilometers per hour and gusts of 275 kilometers per hour,” the update says.

The update notes that the “estimated number of fatalities from Typhoon Haiyan continues to fluctuate between 2,000 and 10,000. Whatever the final numbers, Typhoon Haiyan’s effects have been devastating, with aid channels slowed due to severe damage to infrastructure and officials urging residents of decimated cities such as Tacloban to leave and relocate.” At least 982,252 families, or 4,459,468 individuals were affected, and an estimated 101,762 families or 477,736 individuals have been displaced, in numbers provided by the ACT Alliance.

CWS is supporting response and recovery efforts of fellow members of the ACT Alliance that have significant operations in the Philippines including the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran World Relief, Christian Aid, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. CWS-supported efforts include providing immediate assistance to more than 200,000 people: emergency food to 259,000 people, non-food items (plastic sheeting, etc.) to 192,000, water/sanitation repair to 205,000, programs of cash for work for 63,400, shelter assistance for 90,000, and disaster risk reduction programs for 2,500.

ACT Alliance member organizations are targeting their aid to subsistence farmers, small fishermen, poor urban dwellers, and female-headed households among the most affected by the typhoon, as people who have limited capacity, finances, and resources of their own to recover, CWS says. The total amount being sought for the entire ACT Alliance effort is $15,418,584.

Among what CWS and others know based on assessments by partners in the Philippines:

— There are affected areas that government and non-governmental agencies have not yet reached. Urgent needs include food, sleeping materials, water, blankets, tarpaulins, tents, medicines, mosquito nets, generators, hygiene kits, and kitchen utensils.

— The massive destruction of houses prevents families from returning home. As a result, there is an immediate and increasing need for plastic sheets for temporary cover and enclosed tents for families with vulnerable members.

— Among the most urgent needs are safe drinking water and hygiene kits as water pipelines may have been damaged and accessible water is not potable. There is acute lack of clean water and food for the population in all nine provinces where more than 9 million people are affected.

Contributions to support the relief effort for Typhoon Haiyan survivors may be made at .

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