Christian Aid warns of food insecurity in wake of Typhoon Mangkhut

By agency reporter
September 17, 2018

Typhoon Mangkhut (locally named Ompong) has caused destruction in the Philippines over the weekend of 15-16 September 2018, and Christian Aid, alongside its local partners, is responding.

Described as the most powerful tropical storm in the world this year, Mangkhut has affected 4.6 million people with 250,000 people in seven provinces directly affected. Many have lost their homes, belongings and crops.

Much of Christian Aid’s work focuses on preparing for such disasters, but the diameter of Mangkhut was almost twice that of Typhoon Haiyan, so the sheer span of damage is challenging. The charity is very concerned about vulnerable communities in remote, mountainous areas that are now isolated because of landslides and flooding caused by the cyclone.

Maria Alexandra Pura, Christian Aid’s country director in the Philippines, said: “In the Philippines, we experience around 20 typhoons a year and some of these provinces have been hit again and again throughout this year’s typhoon season. Mangkhut is coming at the heels of smaller storms so the ground is already saturated, and people don’t have time to recover in between.

"Remote areas – upland and small island communities  – could be isolated by landslides and turbulent waves for days or even a week. The problem is we are not sure whether people in these areas in the typhoon’s path received adequate and early warning. Even in normal times, these communities have difficulty in accessing life-saving information. Likewise, it is difficult to know how they are faring after an intense typhoon such as Mangkhut hits. We hope that they have enough food stocks and water. This is what we have been working towards.”

Food security is a major concern, and not just in the short-term. The country is already reeling from high inflation rates, a spike in food prices and a rice shortage.

Maria Alexandra Pura added: “We are currently coming out of the ‘hunger season’ and farmers were just days away from harvesting their crops but now they are destroyed. At a time when they were expecting to start making some money and clearing their debts, this has happened. This, as well as the current high inflation, will only exacerbate the food price issue. With so many crops destroyed, there is a clear need for agriculture support and to help people adapt their methods of earning a living.”

Christian Aid and its partners in the Philippines are devoted to helping communities prepare for typhoons through workshops and training to help people understand the risks, to learn how best to secure their homes and to develop clear emergency plans. Civil society and the government have worked hard to limit the effects of Typhoon Mangkhut and now the clear up operation begins.

* Christian Aid https://mediacentre.christianaid.org.uk/

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