Eight months on from the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, Foundation Ambassador Omer Farooq Hanif visited the Philippines to see how the Unilever Foundation is supporting Oxfam’s work to help rebuild communities.In his week-long trip Omer, an assistant manager in Unilever’s finance business from Pakistan, visited two of the areas affected by the typhoon to gain a deeper understanding of Oxfam’s humanitarian projects and see Unilever’s disaster and response strategy in action
Tell us about your trip
I started off by visiting a local school on Bantayan Island to see how handwashing campaigns among children are stopping diseases spreading. I also spent time in the homes of local people and saw how we’re helping to improve sanitation by repairing communal toilets. Hygiene and sanitation were big priorities for Oxfam after the typhoon especially providing water, toilets and hygiene essentials such as soap.
I then travelled on to Tanuan where there are still thousands of people living in tent cities and so Oxfam has installed hand pumps and taps to bring clean water to people. It really is the things that many of us take for granted that can make a huge difference to people lives.
How is Oxfam’s WASH programme for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Promotion making a difference?
WASH is potentially reaching 145,000 people on Bantayan Island by repairing the water supply and sanitation facilities in local communities as well as working on 70 shallow wells to improve the quality of water and make them easier to access for local people. Oxfam is also giving water vouchers and water kits to 12,000 of the most vulnerable families to ensure they have safe drinking water.
What will you take from the trip?
I had no idea that diarrheal-diseases and respiratory infections take the lives of 1.7million children every year. In the aftermath of disasters like the typhoon nine out of ten child deaths can be due to diarrhoea. However, studies have shown that handwashing with soap in can reduce these diseases by 27%. This is why the Unilever Foundation & Lifebuoy are now working with Oxfam and on handwashing behaviour change in an emergency context. I hope to be part of this as we pilot these programmes in the Philippines and my home country, Pakistan.
NEWS - Typhoon Rammasun!
Unfortunately on Monday 14th July the people in Tacloban experienced Typhoon Rammasun. Strong winds destroyed some tents, while rain and flood water began to seep into makeshift homes in and around Tacloban. As well as running initial assessments, Oxfam is ensuring that evacuation sites have potable water supplies.
To support Oxfam's emergency work in Philippines please visit https://donate.oxfam.org.uk/emergency