The team is frustrated. There are a lot of agencies on the island of Leyte yet they all seem to be focussed around the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc. But there are needs outside these cities. We have carried out assessments all over the island and even now, more than two weeks after the typhoon, help has still not reached some people. Our cars keep getting flagged down by children with makeshift signs asking for help. When we ask what they need, they say food and shelter.
This is particularly worrying because there are rains every afternoon. That means people are getting drenched every day. So we decide to add hammers and nails to our distribution kits! We are planning a large scale non-food item (NFI) distribution this weekend with soap, buckets, jerry cans, blankets, bednets, high energy food supplements, plastic sheeting, and now hammers and nails! This will help to maintain hygiene (reducing the likelihood of diarrhoeal diseases), protect against mosquito bites (reducing malaria and dengue) and provide some basic nutrition until the food distributions reach them. The plastic sheeting will protect them in the short-term and the hammer and nails will help them build shelter for the long-term.
And the logistics team have procured these last-minute items incredibly fast. We’ll meet our target of 2,000 comprehensive NFI kits by the weekend.
In the meantime the water and sanitation team are planning a distribution of 1,000 hygiene kits (soap, buckets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans) to the families living in evacuation centres. A large proportion of evacuation centres are in schools and the authorities want to restart schools by Monday. Some of these families have nowhere to go and are setting up shanty villages nearby. The hygiene kits will go some way to providing basic shelter and hygiene.
The mood has changed. Our dynamic and rapid response to the needs of the population has invigorated the team.