This is an update from Direct Relief’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager, Gordon Willcock.
With typhoon Hagupit about to make landfall in the Philippines it is a good time to reflect on the importance of both disaster preparedness and response planning.
Natural climactic events become humanitarian disasters when they exceed the capacity of a community to cope. With poor disaster preparation and planning a relatively minor natural event can become a calamity, conversely, with good preparation and planning a severe climactic event such as a typhoon can be endured with minimal loss of life.
The destructive power of last years super typhoon Haiyan and the humanitarian emergency it created has served as a wake up call for communities living in high disaster risk areas and for governments responsible for disaster planning.
As typhoon Hagupit bears down on the Philippines, lives will be saved because disaster preparedness has already occurred and those plans are now being enacted. This means that at-risk communities have been identified and are evacuated to designated sites with adequate sanitation and enough food, water and supplies to cater for them. This also means preparing to respond to a disaster by stockpiling the essential emergency medicines and medical supplies to treat a given population.
The provision of this emergency medical aid to partners is a central component of Direct Relief’s disaster preparedness and response strategy in the Philippines and in other high disaster risk countries. As part of this strategy, Direct Relief’s typhoon module program is specifically designed to increase the capacity of communities to respond to natural disasters through the pre-positioning of essential emergency medicines and supplies. As part of an emergency response, the typhoon modules contain enough medicine and supplies to treat 5,000 people for one month.
Direct Relief currently has two typhoon modules pre-positioned with health facility partners in the path of typhoon Hagupit and one situated within the region ready to be delivered to wherever it is most needed in the wake of the typhoon.