It would be an understatement to say it has been a challenging year globally.  The Philippines, in particular, has certainly had its share of hardship. In October alone, the country was struck by four major weather events, including Typhoon Molave (local name Quinta).  The impact of natural disasters has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on the economy and ensuing of the public health consequences.

The Philippines is no different to other countries in that many of its communities suffer disproportionately from the effects of the pandemic and the natural disasters. Specifically, in this case, in addition to the destruction caused by the typhoons, the after effect of released dam waters has put hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land 15 feet under water.

As it is in many cases, large part of disaster relief efforts is delivered by various community and charity organisations, including Rotary International and their many branches & affiliates. In the wake of these natural disasters, past Rotary International President Rafael Iii Garcia reached out to Disaster Aid Australia to organise relief efforts and through them, got in contact with Balay Mindanaw, a Filipino Mindanao-based and Mindanao-focused non-stock, non-profit organization. Relief efforts were coordinated together with the Rotary Club of Legaspi North since the local government units would not allow outsiders to operate due to the pandemic. A local team brought three SkyHydrants and 25 tents to Catanduanes and Albay, which the local Rotarians used to distribute shelter and potable water to the disaster victims.

Safe water was supplied through another three SkyHydrants in Metro-Manila used to distribute potable water to victims in Pasig, Marikina, Montalban, San Mateo and Rodriguez. While areas such as Cagayan Valley are still under several feet of flood water, relief efforts have included a continued distribution of safe water using the two SkyHydrants that have remained in the area. Local relief groups have also purchased a water tanker to assist the local fire trucks in delivering the water which has been purified with the SkyHydrants.

“It has been welcomed by the local people forced to drink flood water placed in 1-litre plastic bottles and left under the sun as a way of decontaminating them. Of course, many of them ended up with bad stomachs,” Rafael Iii Garcia said. Reliable access to safe water has reduced the number of further illnesses and while the road is long, safe drinking water is a solid base for these communities.