In schools damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, installing new hand washing stations and water systems is just the first step towards recovery. Ensuring students know how to properly and regularly use these new facilities is also a critical step to restoring long-term health. Utilizing local engineers to design and oversee construction, International Medical Corps installed new water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and repaired damaged facilities at 141 schools in only eight months. In addition, our local WASH staff - which include nurses, Hygiene Promotion Officers (HPOs), and a team that supports the Department of Education’s school-based management system - train parents and teachers on hygiene messaging and ask that a Hygiene Champion be elected from the student body at each school. These students lead their peers in adopting and practicing good hygiene and utilizing the restored facilities.
At MacArthur National High School (MNHS) that Hygiene Champion is 15-year-old Kate. Soft spoken but sharp and confident, Kate was elected Supreme Student Government President of MNHS in 2013. She was just a few months into her senior year when Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) devastated her home town. Large stretches of the school’s tin roof were ripped away and the towering courtyard trees were uprooted, tearing up their concrete bases. Books, papers, chairs and desks were drenched - walls and chalkboards remain stained by the torrential rains.
"All was washed out, all facilities were devastated," Kate remembers. "And we bore in our minds 'we cannot graduate.’” Kate’s extraordinary determination pushed her forward despite the destruction and damaged morale surrounding her. “But I am strong. I must be. I uphold the name of the high school,” says Kate. “As president, I had to make plans to go back to before Yolanda.”
International Medical Corps’ HPOs train the Hygiene Champions on basic hygiene education, covering topics like food preparation and disposal, recycling and garbage disposal, proper tooth brushing and hand washing, and hygiene while using latrines, or comfort rooms as they are called in the Philippines. Students receive hygiene kits and participate in WASH clubs organized in their schools.
Before MNHS received its new hand washing station, complete with a dozen faucets and slick new tiles, many students frequently fell ill and had poor school attendance as a result. Now, Kate says, student absences due to illness have dropped thanks to the new hand washing station and hygiene promotion activities, which have helped prevent the spread of infectious diseases between students.
“Before, we had no hand washing station and we could not ensure sanitation for ourselves,” she recalls. “We are so glad that our school was chosen.”
Fatuma is a 36-year-old mother of 5 living in the Melkadida refugee camp in Ethiopia. Due to increasing violence in the region, Fatuma fled Somalia with her family in 2011 enduring a long, seven-day journey before arriving at the camp. In Somalia, Fatuma worked as a trader, in the camp she spends her time taking care of her children.
Fatuma has greatly benefited from International Medical Corps sanitation and hygiene programs in the camp. She attributes her family’s current healthy status to the valuable lessons she learned and is now implementing. She learned that using a washing basin separate from the potties her two children now use has greatly reduced her family’s risk of communicable disease. International Medical Corps also taught Fatuma about personal hygiene, safe water handling and storage, environmental cleanliness, solid and liquid waste management and diarrheal prevention.
Fatuma says International Medical Corps helped ‘save her family’ and is thankful for the critical supplies our staff was able to provide so her family can practice healthy hygiene and sanitation. These items include jerry cans, a washing basin, a three-liter cleansing container, potties, and laundry and bathing soap. Fatuma says, “I have no worry now for such things that I can’t afford to buy. Without the support of International Medical Corps, it will be challenging for us even to buy soap and keep our children and the family healthy.”
International Medical Corps has been delivering water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs in Melkadida for the past two years. Since then, there has been a significant reduction in WASH-related diseases among the refugee community. “International Medical Corps has not stopped providing us knowledge and has also helped us change our knowledge into practices,” says Fatuma. “It was worthwhile and the basis for keeping my family healthy.” Thanks to the generous support of Global Giving and other donors International Medical Corps is able to deliver lifesaving WASH programs such as these to underserved populations around the world.
Background: Out of the estimated population of 9.9 million affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, approximately 4 million were children under the age of 18. In the aftermath of the disaster, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the Government of the Philippines reported immediate threats to children’s basic health including, among others, lack of safe drinking water, lack of sufficient food, and lack of access to sanitation and personal hygiene items. Moreover, Typhoon Haiyan caused extensive damage in schools, destroying infrastructure, school equipment and learning materials. More than 2,500 schools and 800 day care centers were partially or totally destroyed. In some areas, this meant that children had little to no access to safe water or an adequate number of toilets in schools, creating an unsafe learning environment, while in others there were simply no school buildings at all.
International Medical Corps was on the ground in the Philippines within 24 hours of Typhoon Haiyan, and began delivering a comprehensive emergency response. In order to meet immediate needs of survivors and thwart the spread of disease, International Medical Corps worked to provide clean water by distributing water purification tablets; providing clean water-storage receptacles such as buckets, Jerry cans, and DayOne Response Waterbags; and distributing hygiene kits.
Building Back Better: Soon after the immediate needs of the survivors were met, International Medical Corps began rehabilitating damaged water and sanitation infrastructure at storm-ravaged schools. The overall goal of International Medical Corps’ water and sanitation work at Typhoon-affected schools is to repair or replace damaged toilets and hand-washing systems in 130+ sites throughout the Leyte Province while also keeping aligned with the Philippines Department of Education’s goal to ensure that children can return to learning in a safe environment. When this project is complete, it will have reached more than 57,000 school children with improved water and sanitation services. In order to meet this goal, International Medical Corps worked with partners – the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and UNICEF – to jointly implement the “Back to Learning Campaign” to encourage families to send their children back to school.
Program Activities and Accomplishments: To improve the water, sanitation, and hygiene situation in priority schools, International Medical Corps carried out the following activities:
Following the principle of ‘building back better’, International Medical Corps’ construction of sanitation facilities and water supply systems were built to better withstand future storms and other natural disasters. In addition, International Medical Corps worked to engage interested students in roles as “Hygiene Champions” in an effort to encourage ongoing hygiene promotion and the permanent adoption of recommended hygiene behaviors in these schools and the greater community.
With support from Global Giving and other donors, International Medical Corps has completed the following milestones in 7 target municipalities in Leyte Province, including Burauen, Dagami, Julita, La Paz, MacArthur, Mayorga and Tabon Tabon:
Global Giving’s support of this work ultimately helped to provide students and teachers with access to proper sanitation through the construction of stronger, more resilient sanitation facilities; water through the restoration of water supply systems; and hygiene supplies provided through hygiene kits and hygiene promotion education. By working to ensure that schools have access to functional sanitation facilities, adequate water supply systems and hygiene education, the water and sanitation in schools program works to produce better outcomes for children in these schools. These efforts are part of a global campaign to end preventable disease outbreaks in schools and thereby, minimize school absenteeism.
International Medical Corps and DayOne response partnered in 2012 to bring DayOne’s innovative Waterbag to disaster-prone communities through a pre-positioning and training program. The DayOne Waterbag - a ten liter water backpack - provides all four elements of municipal water supply: collection, transport, treatment, and protected storage. It is designed for use with Proctor & Gamble's globally distributed flocculation-chlorination treatment packets - P&G's Purifier of Water. While plans have been underway to deploy DayOne Waterbags to disaster-prone communities in countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya, the catastrophic nature of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines created an overwhelming and urgent need for a viable clean-water solution that the Waterbag could help fill. In response, International Medical Corps and DayOne quickly deployed more than 200 bags and designed a training program for some of the most vulnerable populations following the Typhoon.
One of the most powerful typhoons on record, Super Typhoon Haiyan left widespread devastation, affecting an estimated 16 million men, women and children, including displacing some 4.4 million people. International Medical Corps was on the ground within 24 hours of Typhoon Haiyan making landfall, providing emergency medical services to some of the most remote communities, many of which had yet to receive relief or health care. Despite large-scale efforts to rehabilitate water systems in the affected areas, many rural and remote regions still lack clean sources of water today. People may have to walk up to 10 miles to access clean water, or rely on unsafe water sources including surface water or open wells. Getting water to people –and storing it – is also a challenge, and limited water storage capacity throughout storm-affected areas is making it difficult for families to meet their daily water needs.
International Medical Corps responded to this urgent need in the Philippines by transporting and distributing approximately 220 of DayOne Response’s Waterbags and 12,000 P&G Purifier of Water sachets to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the villages of Lanauan, Cadahunan and Oguisan on the Island of Leyte, ultimately providing clean water to approximately 3,400 people. International Medical Corps distributed the Waterbags through its mobile health services and provided a one-hour training on their use at each distribution point.
Background: Typhoon Haiyan, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, has affected an estimated 9.9 million people in the Philippines. The storm, which made landfall on November 8, caused widespread devastation, displacing 3.4 million people and destroying over 1 million houses, according to the United Nations. This rare and very powerful storm has severely disrupted the delivery of critical health services, and access to safe water continues to be a serious problem for the affected regions.
Since access to affected areas has improved with the clearing of roads and the re-opening of most airports, relief efforts from humanitarian organizations and the Government of the Philippines have scaled up substantially. While humanitarian assistance is getting through to the hard hit areas urban areas with high populations, efforts must continue to extend to the rural and remote villages, many of which have not received any assistance to-date.
Urgent Need for Intervention: Despite large-scale efforts to rehabilitate water systems in the affected areas, many rural and remote regions still lack clean sources of water today. People may have to walk up to 10 miles to access clean water, or rely on unsafe water sources including surface water or open wells. Getting water to people –and storing it – is also a challenge. Although the roads have opened up, bringing water via trucks to large areas is limited due to a shortage of trucks and fuel. Additionally, limited water storage capacity is making it difficult for families to meet their daily water needs. Making matters worse, the devastation of basic household infrastructure – toilets and latrines – and the disruption of trash and waste removal in affected communities has put their populations at-risk for outbreaks of preventable water-borne diseases.
International Medical Corps Emergency Response: International Medical Corps is on the ground in the Philippines providing medical services through ten mobile medical units in some of the hardest-hit areas following Typhoon Haiyan. International Medical Corps is also conducting water, sanitation and hygiene; medical; and mental health assessments in affected communities, and has begun nutrition screening and treatment referral for children.
By working through mobile medical units, International Medical Corps has been able to provide critical health services on remote islands where families struggle to access medical care and basic resources
International Medical Corps, along with local health authorities, has begun to focus on the public health threat of epidemics in communities where access to safe water is unsteady or not possible. In conjunction with the delivery of medical services in affected areas, International Medical Corps is identifying unmet water, sanitation, and hygiene needs in these areas. International Medical Corps is focusing on providing water, sanitation, and hygiene support to temporary health structures; distributing hygiene and water kits; and improving the availability of water through repairs to distribution systems and treatment of water sources.
A Proven Solution: As part of its partnership with DayOne Response to deliver clean water during emergencies, International Medical Corps is working to transport and distribute approximately 200 of DayOne Response’s Waterbags and P&G Purifier of Water to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The Waterbag when combined with P&G’s Purifier of Water can provide clean, drinkable water for individuals and communities directly affected by the disaster. International Medical Corps is transporting them to its bases of operation in the Philippines for further distribution through its mobile or stationary health services in areas with limited access to clean water, as needed. The Waterbags were piloted previously during International Medical Corps’ response to the Haiti Earthquake in 2011, and proved to be a potent solution to water shortages that arise during the recovery period after a widespread disaster. Tricia Compas-Markman, DayOne Response’s CEO, had this to say about deploying the life-saving Waterbags to the Philippines:
“The collaboration between DayOne Response, Procter and Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, and International Medical Corps, enables our teams to reach families affected by the typhoon with innovative solutions for clean drinking water. This is taking form by providing them direct access to clean drinking water through the DayOne Waterbag™ and P&G Purifier of Water™. The robust water purification system supports International Medical Corps comprehensive WASH approach in both households and health clinics, empowering communities to directly to treat their own water. This is an exciting effort to be involved with!”
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Director, Resource Development