UN OCHA appeals to int’l community for 1.6B pesos for Mindanao’s quake victims

MAKILALA, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 30 January) — The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has appealed to international community for US$31.8 million or 1.6 billion pesos to help thousands of victims affected by the series of powerful earthquakes in Mindanao last year.

Mark Bidder, OCHA Philippines head, said aid organizations have so far secured at least $5.7 million (P289 million at current rates), or 18 percent of the total requirement needed to support the government-led response initiatives for the quake victims.

Unruly earthquake victims mob Good Samaritans distributing relief assistance in front of the Malasila Elementary School in Makilala, North Cotabato on Friday (1 November 2019). MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

He noted the new P1.6 billion appeal is needed by humanitarian partners “to support the government-led response and meet priority needs in protection, emergency shelter, CCCM, WASH, education, early recovery and livelihoods, health, food security and agriculture, nutrition and logistics of 247,000 people over the next six months.”

CCCM stands for camp coordination and camp management and WASH for  water, sanitation and hygiene.

The adjusted humanitarian appeal is about 38 percent or $12 million (P609 million) higher from the original appeal of $19.8 million (P1.005 billion).

“More than 70,000 people or 16,000 families are taking shelter in over 170 evacuation centers (ECs), while almost 160,000 people or 35,000 families are staying outside of ECs or in home-based settings,” Bidder said, citing government data as of January 7.

The bulk of the funding requirement worth $10.8 million (P548 million) is needed for  CCCM and shelter needs of the victims, according to him.

The quakes destroyed or damaged at least 73,100 houses, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.


Bidder said that $5.4 million (P274 million) would go to health, including sexual and reproductive health, $4.5 million (P228 million) for WASH, and $3.5 million (P178 million) for early recovery and livelihood, among others.

From October to December last year, a series of over Magnitude 6 tremors jolted a large part of Mindanao, badly hitting the provinces of Cotabato in Region12 or Soccsksargen and Davao del Sur in Region 11.

Five above Magnitude 6 quakes occurred in Mindanao between October 16 and December 15 last year: Magnitude 6.3 on October 16, 6.6 and 6.1 on October 29 and 6.5 on October 31, all with epicenters in North Cotabato, and 6.9 on December 15 with epicenter in Davao del Sur, according to records of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Worst-hit by the quakes were the towns of Makilala and Tulunan and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato and Matanao, Padada, Bansalan and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur.

A total of 36 persons were killed and over 770 people injured by collapsing structures, falling debris, cardiac arrest and other earthquake-related traumas, said the OCHA report obtained by MindaNews on Wednesday, January 29.

Gina Maramag, OCHA Philippines information officer, said the displaced population and vulnerable groups will remain at the center of the humanitarian response in close coordination with the government.

“Through engagement of the communities themselves, humanitarian assistance is prioritizing the key needs inside formal evacuation centers and of those living in informal or unrecognized settlements within the most affected areas,” she said.

Maramag said humanitarian groups are helping the quake victims through the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT), a sub-national coordination forum composed of UN agencies and international and local non-government organizations.

Many of the MHT members have been operating in Mindanao for over ten years, working in close partnership with government agencies and local government units, she added.

As of 7 January, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health and the Office of Civil Defense have provided a total of PhP172.5 million ($3.4 million) worth of assistance to the affected families, OCHA said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)