NEW YORK (February 6, 2014) – Three months after a massive Typhoon devastated the central Philippines, the long trek back to normalcy for children hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan has begun.
UNICEF and its partners are playing a key role in restoring access to clean water and sanitation, in providing immunization against dangerous diseases and improving children’s health, in addressing maternal and neonatal under-nutrition, in re-establishing education and early childhood development programs, and in ensuring children are protected from abuse and exploitation.
With help from UNICEF and its partners, some 420,000 children from the worst hit areas are now back in school and using learning materials from school-in-a-box, early childhood and recreational kits. The back-to-school campaign will continue to expand as the new school year begins in June.
Though progress has been made to address the needs of the affected population, much still remains to be done to address significant challenges, including continued large-scale displacement of families and communities, damaged infrastructure and lost livelihoods, and increased threats from diseases like dengue fever and measles.
On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan demolished vast areas in the central Philippines, affecting 14.1 million people, 5.9 million of whom are children. Following a vulnerability assessment, UNICEF is working with local partners in the 40 most severely affected municipalities—home to some 1.34 million people, including 558,000 children.
“Our focus to date has been on providing life-saving aid to those children and communities that were hardest hit by the Typhoon and who are most at risk,” said Angela Kearney, the UNICEF Representative in the Philippines. “We are making real progress, but so much more needs to be done to restore these children’s rights and to return to them their chance to fulfill their potential. UNICEF staff members are working around-the-clock to provide urgently needed assistance.”
Working with the Government and humanitarian partners, UNICEF has established a presence in these worst-affected areas to fast-track the delivery of aid and support.
“Every day we are expanding our support, looking to ensure that every child’s needs and rights are met,” said Kearney. “And as we provide support, we have one eye on the future, ensuring that everything that is rebuilt is more disaster-resilient, better able to withstand any future calamity.”
UNICEF’s emergency response planning charts the transition from relief to longer term recovery assistance. It also provides support to strengthen the capacity of local and national institutions to ensure children’s needs are met.
UNICEF’s assistance to-date includes:
Water and Sanitation
Since November, UNICEF and partners have provided water kits, water treatment products, bladders and home storage containers to some 925,500 people across Eastern Samar, Leyte and Capiz; toilet slabs and portable toilets for some 70,000 people in Capiz, Eastern Samar and Leyte; and hygiene kits for 231,000 people across Eastern Samar, Leyte, Capiz, Iloilo, and Cebu.
UNICEF is supporting the restoration of routine immunization programs through the prepositioning of stocks and the reestablishment of a disaster-resilient cold chain.
Measles, dengue and diarrhea pose major risks to children living in the affected areas. With support from UNICEF and its partners, the Department of Health has conducted a measles vaccination campaign, is working to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, and is finalizing dengue fever preparedness and response plans for the affected regions. More than 4,000 cases of diarrhea have also been reported in the affected regions, with heavy rain experienced in these areas since the Typhoon.
UNICEF is working with the Department of Health, WHO and other partners to increase the capacity of local authorities to prevent outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhea, dengue fever and other related illnesses, and to build local diagnosis and treatment capacity, including establishing treatment centers.
Over 8,000 pregnant and lactating women and caregivers have received counseling and support for infant and young child feeding through 43 UNICEF-supported mother and baby-friendly spaces. UNICEF is working with the Philippines National Nutrition Council to help them provide emergency support to children and pregnant and lactating women in over 1,000 villages across the affected areas.
Nutrition screening of more than 97,000 children under the age of five in the worst-affected areas is now complete. As a result, 159 severely malnourished children have been admitted to therapeutic and supplementary feeding programs.
Education and Child Protection
UNICEF has provided 1,244 Temporary Learning Spaces that have benefited more than 124,000 children. Early childhood care and development kits, recreational kits and tents have been provided by UNICEF and key partners to 79 Child-Friendly Spaces used by more than13,500 children. Access to counseling support services has also been provided to help children deal with the emotional and psychological impact of the crisis.
A Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification systems supported by UNICEF has now verified and reported 92 unaccompanied and separated children. Fifty village community action groups and displaced protection volunteers have been trained to provide greater safety and protection to vulnerable women and children, and this training is being expanded to provide help in eight high-risk evacuation centers and transitory sites.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, [email protected]