Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Latest update on Red Cross work in Typhoon Haiyan (Yolande), Philippines.

I've been working for the Swiss Red Cross for over two months in the Philippines on the Typhoon Hariyan (Yolande) relief operation which is now moving into the recovery stage. I am back home for a short break and will be back in Manila next Monday, 3 February as we launch into the long-term recovery phase.  The latest update on Red Cross work has just been compiled.
The Philippine Red Cross distributing shelter kits and corrugated sheeting ,supplied by the Swiss Red Cross on Bantayan Island in northern Cebu. To date Swiss Red Cross have supplied 5000 shelter kits, 56000 sheets of iron, and 2000 cash grants plus family tents and health clinic tents.

 Situational Snapshot
• According to the latest NDRRMC update, Situational Report No. 92, the
number of registered deaths is 6,201 with 1,785 persons still missing. A total
of 890,895 families were displaced. The number of damaged houses is
1,140,332 (550,928 totally, 589,404 partially).
• Between 17 and 20 January, the tropical depression Agaton crossed the
southern Philippines causing loss of life and damages. Although the storm did
not follow the same path as Haiyan, heavy rains and strong winds associated
with the depression affected the Visayas, causing further damages as well as
complications and delays for Red Cross Red Crescent Movement operations.
Philippines Red Cross - Highlights
• The Revised Appeal published 16 January is seeking a total amount of CHF
126,156,616 to support PRC in assisting up to 100,000 families (500,000
people) for 24 months. The main sectors to be covered by the Appeal are
shelter, livelihoods, health, and water and sanitation. The Appeal will be
updated in March following the publication of recovery assessment findings
and the upcoming mid-February Movement Summit led by PRC.
• The four Recovery Assessment teams deployed to Panay, Palawan, Leyte,
and Cebu completed their activities after three weeks in the field. A two-day
workshop was held on 23 and 24 January in Manila for the teams to share
their findings and finalize field reports. The recovery assessment was led by
PRC with the support of IFRC and Partner National Societies. An integrated
PRC Recovery Assessment Report will be prepared and the findings will be
used to update the PRC Plan of Action in the weeks to come.
• A Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Summit will be held on 12 and 13
February in Manila. The Summit aims to establish the basis of our joint
operation for the years to come through a clear commitment of Movement
Partners with a shared Movement Wide Operational Framework built upon i)
the PRC vision and strategy, ii) shared operational objectives for Typhoon
Haiyan/ Yolanda relief and recovery operation, iii) an agreed framework for
Movement cooperation and relations with external actors, and iv) quality
programming and accountability in our support to disaster affected
communities. Prior to the Summit, an Asia Pacific Regional Meeting for the
Philippines will be held in Manila on 11 February to reflect on regional
cooperation and coordination in disaster preparedness.
The key word for this reporting period is transition. As operations shift from relief to recovery phase, FACT members and the various ERUs still operating are expected to conclude their activities by the end of February. They are currently planning or already implementing handover and exit strategies.
As of 26 January, distributions of non-food items had reached more than 77,000 families of the 100,000 target. The pace of distribution is scaling up with three sub-logistics hubs fully active in Leyte, Cebu, and Panay even though transportation is still a challenge due to frequent bad sea conditions.
A consolidated non-food items distribution plan has been finalized together with PRC, with an end target date of 28 February. Thus, an additional ERU team rotation is planned for the Relief ERUs (American Red Cross based in Tacloban, Benelux on Panay Island, and French Red Cross based in Ormoc) and Logistics ERUs (Finnish Red Cross/ Danish Red Cross and British Red Cross) to support PRC until the end of February.
Progress towards PRC/ IFRC relief ERU distribution household targetsby PRC chapter as of 26 January 2014
Post-distribution monitoring (PDM) is being carried out by relief teams in order to update information on thegeneral situation of the population, focusing on the quantity and quality of relief assistance provided to beneficiaries. A common PDM questionnaire was designed and shared with relief teams, and Open Data
Kit (ODK) will be used to manage mobile data collection and facilitate analysis.
PRC volunteers are trained to conduct sensitization activities in parallel to distributions of shelter items on how to “build back build safer and do it yourself.” Shelter Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) delegates trained 30 volunteers from Panay PRC Chapters and supervised 28 emergency shelter sensitization sessions. Trainings were also held in Tacloban.
IFRC and PRC teams are working on exit strategies that explore opportunities to target new households for distributions. PRC chapter capacity building will also be considered through soft approach such as training,  support for office rehabilitation, or support for building local storage capacity.

* Additional households are being identified in order to reach the plan of 50,000.
Water and Sanitation (WatSan)
Three WatSan ERU teams were deployed in the field in response to typhoon Haiyan. The Swedish Red Cross/ Austrian Red Cross mass sanitation module (MSM) ERU in Tacloban concluded its activities on 16January. The two others, the Spanish ERU M15 in Tolosa and the German Red Cross/ Austrian Red Cross ERU MSM20 in Dulag, are expected to complete their activities before the end of February and have now entered a dismantling, handover and exit process.
The Swedish Red Cross/ Austrian Red Cross Mass Sanitation ERU in Tacloban:
• Ended its operations on 16 January with departure of the second team rotation.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Operational Highlights / Typhoon Haiyan Appeal - 27 January 2014

• Produced 124,000 litres of water and constructed 46 latrines. The Swedish Red Cross conducted
six hygiene promotion trainings for a total of 97 PRC volunteers. In turn, the volunteers organized
571 hygiene promotion activities reaching 4,947 people within targeted communities.
• Conducted vector control training for 10 PRC volunteers.
• Ensured sustainability of the laboratory established by the ERU and handed over to PRC with the
arrival of a microbiologist delegate on 14 January for one month. PRC staff and volunteers are
trained to manage the laboratory and perform routine water-quality testing.
The German Red Cross/ Austrian Red Cross ERU M20 in Dulag:
• As of 21 January, in collaboration with PRC, had constructed 121 latrines reaching 4,359 people.
• Performed 79 sanitation interventions, mainly latrine repairs in schools, reaching 9,315 people.
• Trained 97 volunteers in hygiene promotion. The volunteers organized 278 hygiene promotion
campaigns reaching 47,455 people.
• Conducted a vector control training for 20 PRC volunteers.
• Will conclude operations in the field by the end of February. A last ERU team of 4 has been on site
since 22 January, preparing the handover.
The Spanish Red Cross ERU M15 in Tolosa:
• Is expected to close production and distribution activities in February with the departure of the
fourth ERU team rotation. This final team arrived in Tolosa on 22 January and will continue to work
on a daily basis with a trained team of 7 PRC volunteers. The ERU team operates a water
production and distribution centre while also supporting the PRC in implementing hygiene and
promotion activities.
• As of 20 January, produced 4,870,355 litres of water and delivered 4,557,864 litres in Tolosa
and surrounding areas.
• Conducted training in hygiene promotion for 56volunteers. The volunteers have held 12 hygiene
promotion activities reaching 594 people.
• Continues to supply the German Red Cross/Austrian Red Cross ERU M20 and other
Movement activities with purified water.
• Is implementing an exit strategy, shifting focus away from water production and distribution and
intensifying activities in barangays around rehabilitation of key facilities such as communal hand
pumps, household water treatment, and water quality monitoring.
• In accordance with the exit strategy, 31 of the 37 distribution points have been dismantled with 6
remaining to be dismantled progressively.

The Canadian Red Cross/ Norwegian Red Cross Basic Health Unit (BHU) ERU was deployed to
Ormoc, set up a field hospital, and began seeing patients on 21 November. One month later, all patients could be transferred from the tents into the district hospital and the field hospital was taken down. Clinical teaching and bedside care continued in the hospital on maternal child health. The ERU concluded clinical activities in the hospital by the end of December. However, psychosocial and community health module activities continue. Three delegates remain on site for dismantling, handover and exit strategy.
The PRC has indicated that the ERU handover and exit strategy is consistent with its current plan to fortify capacity in disaster management. The Canadian Red Cross/ Norwegian Red Cross BHU is currently being stored in the IFRC warehouse in Cebu where it will be reconfigured and replenished with consumables and medications. The ERU team will hold training for PRC volunteers in late February on the set-up and operation of the BHU and provide delegate support in the event of deployment. Current activities involve replenishment, training, and liaising with PRC and IFRC.
Cumulatively the BHU ERU:
• Admitted 1,226 patients (female: 22%, male: 78%; 33% under five years of age), performed a total
of 114 surgeries, and supported 418 deliveries. Deliveries represented 30% of patients seen by the
ERU, followed by diarrhoea cases (13%), acute respiratory illnesses (12%), and surgeries (9%).
• Provided pychosocial support to 3,800 children and adults.
• Trained 50 PRC volunteers in psychosocial support.
• Trained 23 PRC volunteers in violence prevention.
• Held workshops on play, art therapy, and stress management attended by 157 teachers.
• Conducted various trainings for PRC volunteers, health staff at Ormoc District hospital, and
community health promoters in Ormoc and Tacloban.
The Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) Basic Health Clinic (BHC) ERU started its clinical activities in the rural health unit (RHU) of Maya, Cebu and also began operating a mobile clinic in Daanbantayan, Cebu on 20 November. The ERU has also been active supporting preventive health measures through
community based health (CBH) and psychosocial activities.
The daily number of patients seen has shown a steady decline, and since the end of December appears to be consistent with pre-typhoon levels. Repairs at the RHU have allowed all services, other than delivery services, to resume. The secondary health care service and referral system is functioning. A third team of 10 delegates comprising three doctors, three nurses, two technicians and two administrators arrived on site 8 January. They continue activities while implementing the handover and exit plan. After the gradual closure of the fixed clinic the ERU will also phase out the mobile clinic and the community health module.

Between 15 and 21 January, the JRCS BHC ERU carried out 13 community health training activities for 84 barangay health workers as well as a midwives training for 17 midwives.

• The structure of Logistics continues to be an operations hub in Cebu, two bases in Leyte (Palo and
Ormoc), and a hub on Panay Island. The ERUs are still present but preparing to transition duties. The
fourth ERU rotations will handover to long-term teams.
• Non-food item distributions are on track for completion by the end of February with the arrival in the Philippines of bed sheets and mats. All goods received notes (GRNs) for in kind donation (IKD) have now been reconciled and sent to donors. Donors are invited to contact Logistics if they have not yet received a GRN for donated items.
• In Cebu, the latest dispatches have been delayed due to bad weather conditions. Globally, the logistics operation is now running smoothly with only the usual few unavoidable glitches.
• The mobilization table was last updated on 19 December and indicated that all needs were covered in terms of required IKDs. The Revised Appeal did not identify new needs so there is no plan to revise the mobilization table at this time. However, the shelter plan when finalized may include corrugated iron sheets-CGI procured through ZLU and roofing kits that cannot be sourced locally. The support for those items would have to come through cash pledges towards relief.
• The long-term human resources plan has been globally well accepted and supported. All positions have been posted and closed. Final decisions are in process.
Information Technology/ Telecom (ITT)
During this reporting period the ITT ERU team has:
• Assisted incoming delegates with their IT setups.
• Supported the personnel at Cebu warehouse, Palo Base camp, and Tacloban PRC chapter.

• Been preparing a preliminary planning for the ITT needs for the new Tacloban PRC chapter
• Prepared nine donated Dell laptops and five donated Iridium 9555 sat-phones for use by PRC
The current ITT ERU comprises five members. A further team rotation is planned until a long-term delegate is appointed. The ERU team has been coordinating and looking for opportunities to cooperate with other agencies, and attending the emergency telecommunications cluster meetings. Radio site installations
planned for the third rotation have been postponed due to the late arrival of equipment.
Shelter Cluster - Highlights
• To date, 450,354 households have received basic emergency shelter materials. Support for shelter
self-recovery (SSR) for 46,747 households has been distributed or is currently on going. The SSR
number is lower than previously reported, because a large cluster partner submitted different data.
• The REACH assessment commissioned by the Shelter Cluster shows that most shelter assistance has been provided along the coasts and in urban areas even though many homes in rural and inland areas have also been destroyed. Given the shortage of funds, the Shelter Cluster is working together with
partners on a framework to improve targeting according to vulnerabilities.
• Together with the Early Recovery Cluster, the Shelter Cluster is looking at ways to utilize coco lumber from fallen trees for construction while mitigating the risk of market volatility.
• A survey conducted by the Shelter Cluster showed that 75 per cent of Shelter Cluster partners are
planning to provide affected households with information or training on how to build back safer.
• The Shelter Cluster team is supporting municipal and provincial authorities. In Capiz, the team is
supporting the government in developing the Provincial Recovery Strategy. In Cebu, the team is
developing a skills training program for municipal information managers.
• In Tacloban, the local government is preparing a relocation site 16 kilometres north of the city. Site
plans are for between 7,000 and 10,000 families.
• Shelter projects in the Strategic Response Plan are only 24 per cent funded (43 million of 178 million USD). This is at odds with the massive shelter needs. While funding also exists outside the SRP, significant funding gaps remain. This lack of funding means that many disaster survivors may not have adequate shelter in time for the next typhoon season.
• An Information Manager from MapAction and a GIS expert from British Red Cross have temporarily joined the Shelter Cluster team to assist with coordination of the shelter sector.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

New Zealand can win medals in the Winter Olymics in Russia.

For me, the recent selection of the NZ winter Olympic is a bit of a dream come true. I lived in Switzerland from 1975 to 1979 and skied a lot and studied closely the 1976 Winter Olympics with great interest, and watched NZ skiers coming near last. Why were they last or 2nd last I kept asking myself. 

At that stage I met Arthur Klapp and Lynn Divers in Chamonix competing in international free style  skiing events and I remember discussing with them about the potential NZ had for developing more competitors for future Winter Olympics. With ski fields like Turoa and Mt. Hutt opening close to big cities in the 70s, we saw a rise in people flocking to the New Zealand snow slopes. The snow farm in Cadrona, and new ski fields at Treble Cone and the Remarkables ahs bought more NZers to the snow. Asa result of this, New Zealand's new snow generation as arrived.
And although much of the immediate hype and attention will be on Wanaka freeskiing prodigy Jossi Wells, storylines resound throughout the 15-strong New Zealand team named for the Sochi Winter Olympics on 24 January 2014.

Ten of the team, which NZOC chief executive Kerryn Smith describes as "the start of a new era" for winter sport in New Zealand, will
compete in the new Olympic disciplines of freeski halfpipe and slopestyle, and snowboard slopestyle - and 12 of the overall team are first-time

It was the kiwi skier Annelise Coberger who in the 1992 Winter Olympics  slalom skiing won our first ever and still only, winter Olymics medal.. Such is the path Coberger, who retired from professional skiing aged only 23, has taken since the crowning moment in New Zealand winter sports. But that's the thing about treading on snow though, isn't it? It doesn't have a long memory. However deep the tracks you make, they are quickly and quietly erased by the next fall. 

Twenty years ago, those tracks were fresh. Coberger headed to the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics in France a real smokey to create history.
Based in Austria, she had racked up a series of promising finishes in World and Europa Cup events in the preceding season.
She was seen as a half-chance to get a medal, but, really, no one was expecting much.
Her first run was poor. Coberger was ranked eighth, and looking unlikely to do anything against the tough European-dominated field.
Bugger, she thought, heading into the second run. No one cares about anyone other than the medallists. Push yourself, she told herself. Don't hold back.
She dropped in - and nailed it. Coberger aced every gate - her time was 1:33.10. As soon as she finished, it looked good enough for a medal. And it was.
Only Austrian Petra Kronberger, one of her nation's biggest ever downhill stars, went quicker.
History was made.
We all remember those images on television, don't we?
That fresh-faced Canterbury girl waving a New Zealand flag. That big smile.
Coberger would go back to the Winter Olympics, in Lillehammer in 1994, but fail to complete her runs. That was it for her.

If the silver fern is seen on the Winter Olympics podium in Russia in 2014, chances are it will be worn by one of the 11-strong freeski and snowboarding contingent.
The eldest Wells brother, Jossi, who won an FIS World Cup event in slopestyle in Switzerland last week, is the biggest hope in both halfpipe and slopestyle, though his younger brothers have the skill and strong form on the world circuit to earn their way to the finals.
.Jossi will be joined at the Sochi Games, which start on February 8, by his younger brothers Byron and Beau-James, meaning three family members have been named in a New Zealand Olympic team, summer or winter, for the first time.

Wanaka skiers Lyndon Sheehan and Janina Kuzma will join the Wells boys in Sochi, in the men's and women's freeski halfpipe respectively.
New Zealand's contingent in the women's snowboard slopestyle offer perhaps the next big hope. Stefi Luxton, Rebecca ‘Possum' Torr, Shelly Gotlieb and Christy Prior will form four of the 24-strong field in Sochi, and Prior comes into the Games after a World Cup victory in Canada this week.
Another Olympic medal in 2014, and then the winter Olympics in New Zealand?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Norwegian Foreign Minister visits Typhoon Haiyan (Yolande) affected communities

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende distributes rice seedlings to farmers in typhoon-hit Basey yesterday.  
I was happy to learn that Borge Brende the Norwegian Foreign Minister visited typhoon affected areas yesterday. In early 2010 when he was secretary general of the Norwegian Red Cross I traveled with him through tsunami affected areas in Aceh and earthquake affected West Sumatra with Erik Solheim,  Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Environment, Government of Norway. I wrote an article at that time about him and Erik Solheim Minister, outlining their leadership qualities.

Here is an excerpt about his visit yesterday from the Philippines Star.
Visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende handed sacks of rice seedlings to farmers in Barangay Can-abay in Samar yesterday.
Speaking to reporters, Brende said the situation in Typhoon Yolanda-hit areas remained critical.
“The needs are immense and a huge effort is being made by a wide range of actors,” he said.
Ador Amascual, Basey municipal agricultural officer, said 1,914 bags of rice seedlings were distributed to the farmers in Basey.
“If they missed this planting season they would not harvest until the next harvest season in October,” he said. “And they would have to rely on food aid for almost a year.”
Brende said Norway is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in Philippines.

 In 2010 Iyang Sukandar, Borge Brende and Bob McKerrow having dinner in Aceh. Iyang and Borge were enjoyable traveling companions as you see and feel their commitment and passion for their work. They also have a great sense of fun and we were laughing a lot.

Norway has sent some experts and equipment through the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Emergency Standby Roster and the Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System, Brende said.
He personally supervised his government’s humanitarian operations in Samar and discussed its role in the recovery efforts.
Accompanying Brende were Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in the Philippines Rajendra Aryal and Department of Agriculture Eastern Visayas executive director Antonio Gerundio.
Brende also visited devastated rice lands in the municipality, particularly in Barangay Tingib, and had an interaction with the farmers.
Pointing to the rice fields behind her, Marygrace Andalan, 44, told Brende they were about to harvest their palay when Yolanda inundated their farms.
“It destroyed some 200 bags of our ready-for-harvest palay planted in our four hectares rice lands,” she said.
Andalan’s family is one of the 43,579 typhoon-affected families getting support from the FAO with quality, certified rice seed in time for the planting season.
The DA has reported that some 600,000 hectares of rice lands were devastated and some 1.1 metric tons of crops were lost – about 80 percent in Eastern Visayas – following the devastation of Yolanda.
Paul Manalo, FAO emergency communications consultant, has requested support for the 63,234 hectares of devastated rice crops in Eastern Visayas alone.
FAO has bridged the gap for rice seeds in Eastern Visayas through the support of Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Belgium, as well as from the UN-CERF funds, he added.
FAO, in collaboration with the DA, is the first organization to deliver rice seeds to Eastern Visayas.
Brende proceeded to Tacloban City and Basey after a short visit to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.

More about Borge from Wiki.

Børge Brende (born 25 September 1965) is a Norwegian politician from the Conservative Party and has been as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 16 October 2013. He served as Minister of the Environment 2001–2004 and as Minister of Trade and Industry 2004–2005, and as a member of the Storting 1997–2009.
Brende served as Chairman of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 2003-2004. In 2005 he took up the appointment of International Vice Chairman of the China Council for the International Cooperation on Environment and Development (advisory board to the State Council).
In January 2008, Brende joined the World Economic Forum as Managing Director, particularly in charge of relations with governments and civil society. In 2009, Børge Brende joined the Norwegian Red Cross as Secretary General.[1] He re-joined the World Economic Forum in 2011 as Managing Director with responsibility for policy initiatives and engagement of the Forum's non-business constituents.[2]
Brende is married and has two sons.[3][4

Børge Brende (born 25 September 1965) is a Norwegian politician from the Conservative Party and has been as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 16 October 2013. He served as Minister of the Environment 2001–2004 and as Minister of Trade and Industry 2004–2005, and as a member of the Storting 1997–2009.
Brende served as Chairman of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 2003-2004. In 2005 he took up the appointment of International Vice Chairman of the China Council for the International Cooperation on Environment and Development (advisory board to the State Council).
In January 2008, Brende joined the World Economic Forum as Managing Director, particularly in charge of relations with governments and civil society. In 2009, Børge Brende joined the Norwegian Red Cross as Secretary General.[1] He re-joined the World Economic Forum in 2011 as Managing Director with responsibility for policy initiatives and engagement of the Forum's non-business constituents.[2]
Brende is married and has two sons.[3][4

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Burial starts for 1400 people.

A payloader buries unclaimed corpses of typhoon victims in a mass grave near a health center in Tacloban City yesterday. 
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Nearly two months after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck, authorities finally began burying yesterday some of the 1,400 bodies left rotting in an open field here, but the mass grave is only temporary.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez witnessed the mass burial in Barangay Suhi of at least 100 corpses. The burial was done by personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Red Cross and the city government. Military and police officers were also present.
Sioban Ruddel, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), oversaw the re-bagging of the corpses before the burial. NBI personnel took DNA samples and put tags on each of the body bags for future identification.
A backhoe was used in digging a three-foot-wide, 40-foot-long and four-foot-deep hole where the bagged corpses were buried.
“The burial site here is temporary and thus only shallow excavation to enable easy access later when authorities will have to take out a cadaver for identification by relatives,” Ruddel told The Freeman.
The WHO provided technical assistance to concerned government agencies upon the request of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Ruddel said the burial could be completed by weekend.

DNA samples
NBI medico-legal officer Arnel Bacod said DNA samples have so far been taken from 418 cadavers.
DNA samples were being taken from 400 other corpses as of press time.
The NBI said a total of 146 cadavers that have been identified by relatives were also transported for burial at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Barangay Basper.
The city government earlier bought a 6,000-square meter lot as permanent burial site for the corpses that have been identified.
Evangeline Gallo, 67, whose house was only 30 meters away from the pile of cadavers, said she was thankful for what the government did.
“This is our Christmas gift for the new year,” she said.
Ruddel allayed residents’ fear that the corpses may cause an outbreak of disease in the area. “They died of natural causes and not of diseases,” she said.

Coordination with Tacloban City gov’t
Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson reported that the DOH sent 1,500 body bags and protective kits for personnel doing the work, the Department of Public Works and Highways sent additional backhoes and payloaders and the NBI redeployed its forensic team.
Coloma said during a press briefing there had been concerns on the procedure of identifying the victims because the NBI followed the system being used by the International Police or Interpol.
“Based on the observation of some agencies, and this had been conveyed to the NBI, maybe the procedures could be modified since Interpol procedures were used to gather evidence in criminal cases and were thus more detailed. Victims of the calamity are not similarly situated as victims of crimes, so I think that is a point that may be discussed,” he said.
He said after inter-agency coordination, it was agreed to address the issue for a more efficient identification process.
“The facilities have been provided and they now focus on speeding up the burial process, giving due respect to the remains of those who perished in the calamity,” Coloma said.

Thanks to the Philippines Star for permission to use this article.