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Taal refugees still need help says foundation

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A NON-PROFIT organization Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) is calling on its member companies and other private sector entities to continue contributing aid to areas affected by the Taal volcano eruption, especially as help is not currently distributed evenly to all evacuation centers.

While donations are pouring in, the problem is that the stocks in evacuation centers need to be replenished as there is no way to tell when the evacuees will be able to return to their homes.

PDRF Executive Director Veronica Gabaldon said in a conference on Friday: “When we went around rapid damage assessment and needs analysis, at hindi equitable ang tulong na naiibibigay (the help given is not distributed equitably). There are evacuation centers [where people are] eating eight times a day and there are evacuation centers [where people are] eating twice a day.”

PDRF is also calling on companies to give help regularly rather than just making a one-time donation, saying that necessities are bound to run out if the volcano continues to be active.

“What PDRF said the need there is replenishment,” Ms. Gabaldon said, adding that evacuation centers need hygiene kits, cleaning materials, sleeping kits, and medicine.

Department of Health (DoH) Director Gloria Balboa said that more manpower is also needed for giving out the aid in the evacuation centers. Tracking donations is also a problem because some evacuation centers receive assistance in excess compared to shelters in far flung areas.

“That’s one of our concerns, transporting the logistics …The monitoring of the distribution of the logistics is a problem,” she said in a conference on Friday.

While food is not a problem for evacuees as 98% of evacuation centers are already covered in those terms, the supply of water is still not enough for the evacuees. Ms. Balboa said it is not advisable to donate bottled water as the safety of the water in bottles cannot be verified since many donations included unbranded bottled water. Donations of sealed containers of a gallon of water is preferred.

Sanitation is also a concern in evacuation centers, with Ms. Balboa explaining that “There are not enough portalets. You can put a portalet easily but the problem is the maintenance because it is costly… which is why we have a wash assessment team to go to evacuation centers to see the type of toilet facilities that can be constructed.”

PDRF President Butch Meily said, “Taal is a crisis that affects us all. it could affect hundreds of thousands of people and is dangerously close to the heart of the Philippine economy.”

The PDRF also showed its proposed plan which aims to guide its member companies and other stakeholders in its relief efforts in Taal. Assistance will be classified under eight PDRF clusters: logistics; information communications technology; water and sanitation; power, fuel and energy; food and non-food; finance and insurance; search and rescue; and infrastructure. — Gillian M. Cortez





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