MANILA, Philippines — Save the Children has turned over a portable generator, four suction pumps and two deep-well pumps to flooded communities in Pampanga province last month, following the need for equipment to supply power during emergencies, pump out stagnant floodwater and provide access to clean water in public schools.
Many communities in Pampanga still remain flooded six months on after the Southwest monsoon rains in August 2012 caused heavy flooding—damaging houses, schools and sources of livelihood in several provinces in Luzon and in Metro Manila.
Barangay Sagrada Familia is one of the communities severely affected by the Southwest monsoon floods. Reportedly, as much as 5-feet-deep floodwaters were experienced in several parts of the barangay; and making the situation worse, residents of the remote community had to succumb to a prolonged power outage due to toppled main power lines.
According to Ingracio Viray, the barangay captain of Sagrada Familia, the power interruption lasted for more than a month. Being one of the far-flung communities along the left bank of the Pampanga Delta, it took the local service provider some time to fully repair the damages caused by the recent disaster in their area.
“Among other things, we were really concerned about the condition of our residents who had sought shelter in the evacuation centre. The place was cramped with people, mostly kids, lying on the floor since there were no available beds. It was dark inside at night, and it was really hard to go around. We only had a few candles and oil lamps to serve as our light, since we were also trying to minimize the use of such items due to fire hazards,” he added.
Approximately 160 displaced individuals—mostly women and children—were accommodated in the community’s only evacuation site, which has an estimated 300 square metres floor area.
According to Anna Lindenfors, Country Director of Save the Children in the Philippines, the primary purpose of this intervention is to ensure enough power supply to support basic needs that require electricity, such as lighting and proper ventilation for evacuation centres in times of emergencies.
She explained, “evacuation during emergency situations is stressful enough for the disaster-stricken population, especially for children. Thus, if we can avoid further inconveniences to the families, such as expected power interruptions by prepositioning a reliable generator unit in a designated evacuation site, then we should proactively do so.”
Viray admitted that the power interruption problem in Barangay Sagrada Familia is not only limited during times of disaster. Thus, the assistance extended by Save the Children is truly beneficial.
“We’ve been planning to buy something like this for some time now because power outage is a usual problem here in our community especially during the rainy season, but we just couldn’t raise enough funds, so we are really thankful for this donation, among other things,” he said.
The fuel-powered generator capable of producing as much as 6,500 watts can power up around a hundred light bulbs or one big evacuation centre.
Meanwhile, aside from power outage, other major problems in Pampanga include stagnant floodwaters in public schools and damages to accessible sources of potable water for school children.
Several low-lying schools in the area had to succumb to protracted flooding, which posed hazard to health and safety of children who had to literally brave murky waters just to get to their respective classes.
Thus, four suction pumps were provided to Sta. Lucia Matua Elementary School, Sua Elementary School, Masantol Central Elementary School, and San Isidro Elementary School to help drain floodwaters and two deep-well pumps that will serve as clean sources of water to Puti Elementary School and Bulacus Elementary School.
“The sooner the children get back to school after an emergency, the faster it is to restore the normalcy in their lives; but we should make sure that the school is a safe and healthy place they can learn and move around in,” Lindenfors said.
To date, Save the Children has already reached more than 26,000 individuals, with around 12,000 children, affected by the Southwest monsoon floods in the province of Pampanga. Some of the interventions provided in line with this are: distribution of relief packs containing household and hygiene items, jerry cans with drinking water, back-to-school and teacher kits; conduct of hygiene promotion sessions, proper breastfeeding practices and proper parenting, and psychosocial sessions among disaster-affected children; set up of child-friendly spaces and temporary learning spaces, and provision of livelihood opportunities through its cash-for-work programme.
All in all, Save the Children’s Southwest monsoon Emergency Response Programme has already reached more than 63,000 children affected by the Southwest monsoon flooding in Pampanga, Laguna, Bulacan and Metro Manila.
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