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I’m in my home, hip-deep in water and on the phone, discussing relief supplies, logistics lines and manpower, for us to help the worst-affected families in the recent flooding in Metro Manila and its surrounding regions.
The rain has been relentless in the past week, sheets of rain pouring from a cloudy sky with no signs of a break. The saturated soil and overflowing dams means we can only expect increasing flooding in the coming weeks. Several Save the Children staff members have been affected in these floods, along with more than one million people across metro Manila and its surrounding regions. This number is expected to continue to rise in the coming hours and days.
Despite being affected ourselves, we understand that many others are in a far worse position than we are. Nearly 300,000 people have been displaced and living in increasingly overcrowded evacuation centres or relatives’ homes. Many families, especially those with young children need shelter, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, food, clean water and a space resume school and regain a sense of normalcy.
Beyond immediate relief, Save the Children’s team is focusing on sustainability and climate change adaptation. These floods are recurrent, and likely to continue in the coming years. In Save the Children’s relief work last year, we helped to rebuild schools by placing sand bags along pathways, installing new drainage lines and mini school dikes, constructed school sea walls and refurbished classrooms with hanging cabinets and flood resistant blackboards.
All these measures help ensure that teaching and learning materials don’t have to be replaced and there is minimal flooding in classrooms, halls and gymnasiums even on the ground floor. We have also placed boats in communities to ensure that children have a means of transport to school regardless of how flooded roads are. These can now be used in rescue and relief efforts for families cut off from the floods.
In this year’s floods, we want to build on that success and scale up projects in communities so that they can protect their belongings and families in a time like this.
Save the Children’s team is now in full swing, distributing pre-made relief goods from our warehouses, assessing other needs children and their families, and strategizing on ways to ensure sustainability and durability in all of our relief programs. It is vital that we support families in building back better, so children can feel safe even in times of disasters.