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!”