By Sarah Marzouk
HelpAge is working with our partner Coalition of Services to the Elderly (COSE) to support older people affected by Typhoon Bopha, which hit the Philippines at the beginning of December, affecting over 5.5 million people and killing more than 900.
(c) Peter Caton/HelpAge International
The typhoon caused extensive damage to houses and destroyed people’s means of earning a living. Helping people return to their daily lives will take a huge amount of time and funds.
Poor access to affected areas continues to hinder relief efforts and an estimated 800,000 to 1.1 million people in the worst affected areas are in desperate need of food.
Older people in urgent need of food
Older people are particularly vulnerable in emergency situations and have specific needs that we, with our partner COSE, are responding to.
Necitas, 73, and her mother Isabela, 92, are both widows. Necitas said: “There is nobody to support us. This morning I was crying because we have no more food to eat.”
A quarter of the country’s banana crop was also lost in the typhoon.
Necitas’s brother, Eliseo is 63 and has lived on his banana and coconut plantation since 1959. His plantation was completely destroyed in the typhoon.
He said: “It will take at least two years for my life to return to normal. The trees need time to grow. We have no income at the moment; we are dependent on relief assistance and donations. We need rice, food and shelter.”
Providing food, shelter and livelihoods
We are providing urgent food, as well as other basic items, shelter and livelihood assistance and to ensure the safety and protection of older people and their belongings.
The food packets consist of rice, canned fish, sugar and noodles and other the basic items we are distributing include blankets, water storage containers and some cooking utensils.
COSE is also working through older people’s organisations, which are trained to respond in emergencies, as well as community leaders and volunteers to deliver aid.
We have provided the World Food Programme with a list of 5,000 households with older people to ensure they are included in food distributions.
COSE staff are carrying out further assessments of older people’s needs in unreached areas. A separate distribution will provide 1,200 older people with blankets, torches, mosquito nets and some cooking utensils.
To respond to older people’s need for shelter we will focus on providing temporary housing such as tarpaulins, ropes and plastic sheeting.