A girl receives a Unicef family hygiene kit in Pilar, Siargao, one of the hardest hit municipalities from Typhoon Odette. Through funding from the Government of Japan, around 51,000 people will benefit from water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. (photo from Pilar LGU, Siargao Island)

The Government of Japan donated US$1.6 million to the Philippine arm of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef Philippines) to help children affected by Typhoon Odette (international name Typhoon Rai).

In a statement, Unicef Philippines said it welcomed the donation from the Japanese government while renewing its call for more donations “to fill the US$11.48 million  needed to reach some of the most affected children.”

It added that it has so far sent life-saving supplies such as “water purification tablets, hygiene kits, jerrycans, tents, water storage units, school  supplies and nutrition commodities that form part of its emergency stockpile” to communities affected by the  Odette.

“We thank the people of Japan for their unwavering support to Filipino children and their families.  Their generous contribution will enable UNICEF to reach the affected children and families as  they start rebuilding their lives,” Unicef Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov  said in a statement.  

The international aid agency said Japan’s assistance to Typhoon Odette victims will benefit around 51,000  people and will focus on WASH interventions. These include increasing access to safe water and  sanitation facilities (latrines, handwashing facilities), distributing water and hygiene supplies, and  promoting health and hygiene practices, including Covid-19 infection, prevention and control.

Unicef Philippines said Japan is one of its most active and long-standing partners.  

“At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Japan gave Unicef US$730,000 to deliver essential  supplies, training, and information awareness efforts. This was followed by US$3.9 million to  support COVID-19 immunization with cold chain improvements and capacity building of health  staff on cold chain management.” 

It added that Japan also helped deliver assistance to children affected by the Marawi conflict,  supporting children disengaged from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and expanding early  learning and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) coverage for Bangsamoro children. 

Odette, a Category 5 typhoon, entered the Philippines on Dec. 24, making nine landfalls and bringing  torrential rains, strong winds, floods, and storm surges. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the typhoon resulted in 407 deaths, left thousands homeless, and destroyed various infrastructures.  According to Unicef,  an  estimated 1 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance in the worst affected areas  including the CARAGA Region in Mindanao and Region VIll (Eastern Visayas) in the Visayas. – Rommel F. Lopez