Aid agency field communication officer Andrew Robinson, of
Auckland, talks to residents of Dulag, Leyte Island,
Philippines, about distribution of tarpaulins for temporary
repairs to typhoon-damaged houses. Photo supplied.
Food shortages are the greatest threat Typhoon Haiyan
survivors face in the coming months, a New Zealand aid worker
in the central Philippines says.
Andrew Robinson, of Auckland, arrived in the hard-hit town of
Dulag, on the east coast of Leyte Island, 12 days after the
devastating cyclone swept through the Southeast Asian nation
in early November.
Relief agencies and government departments were responding
well to the immediate needs of the humanitarian crisis, Mr
But he and fellow aid workers are concerned about a potential
food shortage early in the new year.
''Many of the people living here depend on the coconut
industry for their livelihoods,'' Mr Robinson said.
Almost all the coconut trees, however, have been destroyed.
It will be a decade before replanting produces the next
sizeable coconut harvest.
''We are a bit concerned about what will happen in two or
three months' time if the food being brought in stops and
people run out of money,'' he said.
''People here do need more food, long term.''
More than 6000 people died as a result of Haiyan, the
Philippines' most deadly storm on record. Most of the deaths
were on Leyte and neighbouring Samar Island. More than half a
million families are without housing and many people have
Mr Robinson is working for TearFund and Swiss-based Medair,
which are members of an alliance of international aid and
development agencies co-ordinating their response efforts.
The agencies are leading the provision of temporary shelter
in Dulag, where more than 80% of homes were destroyed.
Dulag is 30km south of the provincial capital Tacloban, where
more than 20 bodies were being recovered from debris in
Tacloban, it was reported this month. `Mr Robinson has been
struck by the gratitude of the Filipinos.
''There are lots of signs along the roadside thanking
agencies for help. I've never seen that before,'' he said.
He was also impressed by the resilience of the locals who
were trying to clear debris in their neighbourhoods.
''But I know that underneath those smiles is a lot of loss
and grief,'' he said.
Rebuilding will not be a ''quick fix''.
''It needs ongoing commitment and long-term investment from
the Philippines Government and the international community.''