29 August 2013
In August 2012, heavy monsoon rains battered the Philippines, causing widespread flooding, flash floods and landslides. More than two million people were forced from their homes and 112 people were killed.
In poor urban communities, people’s houses were devastated. Fisher-folk along rivers, lakes and coasts had their homes and livelihoods destroyed.
Farmers’ crops were ruined. Indigenous peoples and upland farmers were affected, too; cut off and unable to leave for safer ground, they were increasingly vulnerable to landslides.
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Our response: Emergency relief for 31,000 people
Christian Aid partners, including COM and Samdhana, reached over 31,000 people (6,200 households) with emergency relief.
Having supplied rescue boats and life jackets to aid the evacuation process, our partners provided basic food, medicines and blankets to people in evacuation centres.
The torrential rains that began in the evening of 6 August 2012 submerged many parts of Luzon Island and devastated most of its cities and provinces - particularly Metro Manila and Pampanga.
There was little respite. For two and a half days the rains came. Flood waters rose, homes were destroyed and lives were ultimately lost.
The importance of disaster risk reduction work
Given the size of the disaster, the previous work of a number of Christian Aid partners in helping to prepare communities for emergencies like these is thought to have contributed to the relatively low number of fatalities.
Eric Gutierrez, Christian Aid policy adviser, said: 'The results of past disaster risk reduction work were very apparent in these floods.
'There were plenty of rescue teams, showing that the country was better prepared this time.
'There were also evacuation centres, which means they anticipated the problems and made sure dry and safe places were ready and stocked up with clean water and basic foodstuff, unlike before.'
‘The results of past disaster risk reduction work were very apparent in these floods.’
Preparing for next time
Our partners continue to work with vulnerable communities in the Philippines, preparing them for future emergencies.
Communities have been provided with whistles, transistor radios, two-way radios, stretchers and torches.
People have received training sessions on the importance of making plans and preparing for the worst.
The process of mapping hazardous areas and conducting mock evacuations and rescue operations means communities are prepared and more confident about contending with the future impact of such extreme weather.
Our partners have reported that communities are much less afraid of facing such extreme weather events, because they know what to do and how to do it.
A disaster-prone country
More than half of the population of the Philippines live in disaster-prone areas, and the country is now considered the third most vulnerable in the world to natural disasters and climate change.
The Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons a year. Twenty of the largest cities are situated on the coast and are most at risk of rising sea levels and extreme climate conditions.
Find out how Belen Guzman helped evacuate her community. A volunteer trained by Christian Partner Centre for Disaster Preparedness (CDP), she monitored flood levels during the floods in August 2012.
Read Belen's account of her own family's escape
Video: Christian Aid partner Samdhana distributes emergency relief