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Oxfam sends experts to Philippines in wake of typhoon Washi

Typhoon Washi victims who are made homeless after their houses were swept away by flash floods rest at an evacuation center in Cagayan de Oro in the southern Philippines December 18, 2011. Rescuers searched for more than 100 people still missing in the southern Philippines on Sunday after flash floods and landslides swept houses into rivers and out to sea, killing almost 500 people in areas ill-prepared to cope with deadly storms. The cities of Cagayan de Oro and nearby Iligan on Mindanao island were worst hit when Typhoon Washi slammed ashore while people slept late on Friday and early Saturday, sending torrents of water and mud through villages and stripping mountainsides bare. REUTERS/Erik De Castro (PHILIPPINES - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

As the death toll passes 1,000 from the devastating tropical storm that hit the southern Philippines on Sunday, Oxfam has sent in emergency responders to determine the region’s humanitarian needs.

A team of ten experts are on the ground in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City to assess the water and sanitation conditions, after flash floods brought on by typhoon Washi displaced at least 260,000 people. The team includes experts in water and sanitation, livelihoods in emergencies and humanitarian protection.

We’ve already distributed water bottles to around 4,000 families and are stepping up assistance to help at least 5,000 more families with hygiene kits (which include jerry cans for safe water storage).

Oxfam is particularly concerned about people living in cramped evacuation centres with poor sanitation conditions, which heightens the risk of diseasea. Without bathrooms, women are finding it harder to observe personal hygiene and stave off sanitation and health risks. They also face the added burden of caring for sick children; pregnant women face even more difficult times ahead. People in the evacuation centres need immediate access to safe drinking water, temporary shelter, clean latrines, and emergency cash transfers.

“Eighty percent of Cagayan de Oro has no running water and will remain so for at least a month,” says Oxfam humanitarian officer Noel Pedrola. “This will exacerbate the poor sanitary conditions of evacuation shelters in the days to come, and has wide-ranging implications on public health.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Erik De Castro.

How you can help

We do not currently have an appeal open for our response to the Philippines floods, however you can help us respond to future emegencies by making a one-off donation to our International Crisis Fund or by making a monthly donation to Emergency 365.