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Social Issues
Isolated Communities In The Philippines Are Running Out Of Food After The Typhoon
December 11, 2012
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A woman begs along the roadside in the town of Nabunturan Town on December 9 (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines last Tuesday, killing 714 people and causing crop damage worth $250 million.

The severity of the damage and the fear for people's safety was underlined when Naderev Saño, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation at the UN Climate Conference, broke down in tears on Thursday during his speech asking for help with climate change in the wake of the typhoon.

Well, the situation is still dangerous for many remote communities that were hit by Bopha. A week after the typhoon struck, roads leading to isolated areas are still blocked, and authorities say the only way to get food there is by air drop.

The affected communities include hill tribes and inland villages.

"Their food is fast dwindling, their roads are blocked by fallen trees and boulders and it will not be long before everyone in these upland villages will go hungry," Manggob Masinaring, a member of a mountain tribe and a volunteer relief worker, told reporters.

According to Major-General Arial Bernardo, the army division commander in the south, food and other supplies will have to be dropped by helicopter to reach the most isolated communities.

Buildings and trees devastated by Typhoon Bopha in the town of Boston, the Philippines, December 10 (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

And Stephen Anderson, country director for the World Food Programme in the Philippines, told Reuters help is needed fast.

"These people are extremely vulnerable... it's a race against time," he said.

As well as dwindling food supplies, there is a shortage of clean drinking water. The source of water for many villagers has been blocked or polluted by mud and debris after the storm, leaving it too murky to drink.

As well as the immediate need for food aid in remote areas, many farmers have been reduced to beggars by the typhoon, according to the AFP.

A plantation worker named Blanco described the experience of watching Typhoon Bopha destroy the farm where he worked:

"I looked out across the field, and all the (banana stalks) were felled. Our harvest was gone. The first thought in my mind was, we've just lost our future," he said.

Blanco is from New Bataan, an area known for its banana production. Until Bopha hit, the land was saved from storms by a wall of mountains.

Now, 14,175 hectares of banana crops have been destroyed - an estimated $185 million worth of damage, or about 80 per cent of this year's Philippines banana crops.

The destruction will have "dire consequences for the 150,000 local farmers and relatives who depend on the industry," the AFP says.

All told, nearly 400,000 people have lost their homes and farms because of Bopha.

International aid agencies, including the World Food Programme and the Red Cross, are asking for $100 million to provide food and shelter for the 5.4 million people affected by the typhoon.

To learn more about the WFP's disaster relief work in the Philippines, and to donate, visit their site right here. And to find out about the Red Cross Philippines relief plan and donate funds, you can go to their site here.

The Atlantic has gathered some photographs of the destruction left behind by the typhoon. You can check those out right here.


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