Typhoons exacerbate humanitarian crisis
Nearly 25 million people live on Mindanao. Time and again, destructive typhoons sweep over the island, adding to an already tense situation. Armed conflicts between the Philippine state and various rebel and separatist groups have been raging for several decades. Moreover, there are numerous conflicts between ethnic groups, clans and families, some of which have considerable potential for violence.
After the violent occupation of the city of Marawi in May 2017, martial law was imposed in the region for almost three years. This makes it all the more difficult for humanitarian aid workers to gain access to the affected people – including Plan International staff. All of this is leading to a protracted humanitarian crisis that is the subject of scant global attention.
Focus on children’s rights: Federal Foreign Office supports Plan International project
Since the beginning of 2019, the Federal Foreign Office has funded a project run by the organisation on Mindanao to the tune of 1.4 million euro, which is intended to mitigate future natural disasters and also improve the immediate situation of the people on the ground. Children’s rights, especially protection against sexualised violence, are at the heart of the project. Specially trained team leaders raise awareness of the issue among teachers, parents and school children and introduce them to indicators that can be used to recognise sexualised violence.
At the same time, project staff check whether schools have access to clean drinking water. Plan International also offers hygiene courses for pupils. The organisation has expanded measures in this area since the outbreak of the COVID‑19 pandemic, thus helping to break chains of infection.
Contingency plans for the next typhoon
At least as crucial – given Mindanao’s geographical location – is the third aspect of the project. Plan International has worked with numerous communities and schools on the island to develop contingency plans for the event that another typhoon approaches the island. Now clear guidelines and emergency protocols make it easier for people in the affected areas to get to safety in time. The route to special evacuation centres, which Plan International employees have set up in cooperation with local authorities, is regularly rehearsed for disaster situations. As a result, 80 percent of residents in project communities now know how and where to get themselves and others to safety.
This type of disaster preparedness will prevent or at least significantly reduce humanitarian emergencies on Mindanao that may arise as a result of typhoons in the future. Reconstruction after Typhoon Rolly and other powerful typhoons in the Philippines and Mindanao is ongoing. Thanks to the work done by Plan International, the people of Mindanao are already better prepared for the next typhoon.