ChildFund International Emergency Updates
For children living in extreme poverty, natural disasters and civil unrest multiply their vulnerability and threaten their survival. When emergency situations do arise, ChildFund International makes it easy for you to help. Please choose to donate to our ChildAlert Emergency Fund and help us be prepared for the next emergency. Enter your donation amount in the box at the bottom of the page.
Super Typhoon Bopha Rams the Philippines
Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) has crossed the southern Philippines and is now in the South China Sea. Despite the loss of lives and destruction in parts of Mindanao, areas where ChildFund works are relatively unscathed thanks to the risk mitigation and preparedness work that we have been doing with local government. We have heard from the 15 project offices in the storm's path, and reports are encouraging: All of the children and families we serve through those projects are accounted for, and storm damage is minimal. Most schools are open.
One community ― in Cagayan de Oro, which suffered devastating flooding from Typhoon Washi just a year ago ― has once again experienced heavy flooding, but not nearly as bad as before. Six thousand people there are in various evacuation centers, a bridge has washed out and farms have been swamped by the swollen river, but families are starting to return to their homes.
Meanwhile, we continue with our rapid assessment efforts and coordination with government units and other organizations working in the area.
Super Typhoon Bopha, locally known as Pablo, made landfall on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao early Tuesday (local time) Dec. 4, just less than a year after Typhoon Washi took more than 1,200 lives in the same region. Pablo, with winds of more than 100 mph and gusting to 130, traveled a west-northwest route across Mindanao and is affecting the Visayas, a group of islands to Mindanao's west. Government estimates cite a population of more than 62 million people in and near the path of the storm.
Because typhoons so far south are rare, the area was less equipped to prepare for its effects than the more northern areas of the Philippines. Still, Typhoon Washi was fresh enough in people's minds that evacuations and other preparations began well before the storm arrived. Northern Mindanao had almost 1,000 evacuation centers ready and waiting.
ChildFund works in 203 villages likely to be affected by Pablo, serving more than 13,000 children and their family members. So far, there are no reports of families affected in our work areas, but communications and travel have been disrupted, so news is scarce; we have reports of large waves, some flooding, school and work cancellations. ChildFund response teams will deploy early on Dec. 5, and we are also communicating with other organizations that work in the area to share information and coordinate our response. We'll update this page as we receive new information, so please check back.
7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Guatemala
On Nov. 7, the western highlands of Guatemala bore the brunt of a 7.4-magnitude earthquake, the strongest since the 1976 temblor that killed more than 25,000 people. At least 52 have died from Wednesday’s quake, which has impacted 1,225,000 people. In areas where ChildFund works, more than 2,200 children are affected; at present, no fatalities have been reported from among the families we serve.
The most immediate challenges from the earthquake:
- physical damage to houses, roads and infrastructure
- the collapse of services including electricity and communications
- post-traumatic stress
ChildFund staff is working with local authorities and other partners in the area to restore housing and respond to psychological distress. We are also working to ensure access to water and sanitation and to see that children, especially those in emergency shelters, are protected and safe.
Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa
Elizabeth (8, right) stands with her sister Faith, 9, and mother Mary at the river where they fetch water. The family lives two and a half miles from the nearest water source. Due to the rugged terrain it takes them at least five hours each day to make the journey and collect it. Photography by Jake Lyell.
This year in the Horn of Africa, the short rains failed again, and the long rains came late. This means that once again, harvests were poor, and food prices are up. Families are in trouble.
In Kenya, food insecurity is expected to peak in September, known as the lean season. Because much of the nationwide maize crop was lost to disease this year, prices for that staple food are expected to soar. As the dry season sets in between now and October, milk and water will become harder to find. Once again, children are at risk for malnourishment and worse.
Ethiopia is struggling, as well. In August, the country’s government released a report estimating that nearly 3.76 million people will require food assistance between August and December, a nearly 16 percent increase over the January-to-June number, 3.2 million.
In communities where ChildFund works in both countries, we will continue to provide children and their families with food distributions, nutritional support and monitoring, psychosocial support for children, access to clean water and sanitation, assistance with developing agricultural activities and providing agricultural supplies.
In eastern Africa, the worst drought since the 1950s has now enveloped more than 13 million people. Many live in three countries where ChildFund works: Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Crops have failed, food prices have soared and long-term food shortages are endangering the lives of children, who are suffering acute malnutrition.
Working with local and governmental partners in all three countries, ChildFund is responding by providing supplemental food and water as well as health care and hygiene education to help reduce risk of disease. Communities in Kenya and Ethiopia are stabilizing but remain at high risk of food shortages through October 2012. Uganda is gearing up disaster risk reduction efforts to prepare for food shortages, as many gardens, crops and livestock have been lost due to dry weather followed by flooding.
Given the widespread nature of this crisis, the greatest challenge of all is funding response efforts. Make a difference now and help ChildFund help the children of the Horn of Africa.
Food Crisis in The Gambia
In August, 1,768 families each received 25kg of rice and 2 liters of cooking oil during one food distribution and an additional 40kg of rice during a second. Food support will continue through October. Meanwhile, ChildFund’s partner organization in one of our program areas is providing health education and helping communities create child protection committees. In another region, community members cleaned up a nursery school to protect children from snakes and insects and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and spreading malaria.
The drought in western Africa has caused massive food shortages in many countries. The Gambia, where ChildFund serves more than 20,000 children in the large West Coast region, is one of them. In a country where most people depend on seasonal agriculture and subsistence farming for their survival, widespread crop failure means that most of the rural population is experiencing hunger. Meanwhile, an influx of refugees who are fleeing armed conflict in southern Senegal has put further pressure on severely limited resources.
This is the third time the region has faced such a food crisis in less than a decade.
Families are already consuming seeds that had been stored for next season’s planting. In these desperate situations, the young men and women who typically perform most of the labor on the farms migrate to urban areas in search of work, leaving their families short of help for farming when the rain returns. To compensate, families have begun pulling their younger children out of school to work and supplement the family income. The children are often tasked with dangerous jobs like picking cashews in the bush, where they are at risk of exploitation and kidnapping.
ChildFund is keeping a close eye on the drought situation in The Gambia, with particular attention to malnutrition, child protection and the psychosocial needs of children caught up in the food crisis, especially of the most vulnerable — children under 5.