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Lessons from the Haiyan experience

Published Tue, Nov 19, 2013 · 10:00 PM
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FINALLY, life-saving aid is reaching the victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines - more than a week after the greatest-ever storm of its kind ravaged the province of Leyte and the town of Tacloban in particular. But the Philippine government's approach and response to the disaster raise questions.

The latest official death count from the typhoon as at yesterday was close to 4,000, although the actual number remains unclear as many thousands more could also have perished, including at sea. Given the lack of food, water and medicine in the affected areas, the death toll is certain to rise; heartbreakingly, people have died even from easily treatable injuries such as a broken leg. The danger of the spread of disease is also present and there are particularly vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and pregnant women. The dangers will hopefully recede as aid starts to reach the victims and disaster response teams get to work.

The response to the disaster has been hampered by the destruction of logistical infrastructure, prolonged power outages, the destruction of local facilities such as hospitals and relief centres and the breakdown of local governance and security structures.

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