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Gathering enough food to feed the millions displaced by typhoon Haiyan is one thing; getting it to those most in need is another. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)
The early days after a disaster like typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the Philippines on Nov. 8, can be the most critical ones—especially if you’re trying to deliver food to the millions of Filipinos currently displaced and lacking access to food.
Thus far, the outlook is grim. After an initial assessment, conducted on Monday, the World Food Program already estimates some 2.5 million people will need food assistance for at least the coming six months.
The WFP has moved quickly to begin feeding the millions of displaced and hungry people scattered about the country. A WFP spokesperson told Quartz that the food assistance includes the following:
Nearly half a million high energy biscuits (HEBs), which come loaded with nutrients and vitamins, carry roughly 450 calories a piece, and are relatively light in weight, have been delivered to Manila from Dubai, senior spokesperson Steve Taravella told Quartz. But such shipments are neither sufficient to feed the millions presently without food in the Philippines nor capable of reaching their desired targets at present. “Now the challenge is getting them from Manila to where the need is greatest,” Taravella said. “The infrastructure has been so decimated by the storm that the task has been made extremely complicated—roads are impassable, airports are inoperable, the country’s ports are completely destroyed.”
- Another 550,000 nutritional bars, which were donated by the US government, are currently waiting in Anchorage, Alaska, from which they will be delivered into the Philippines.
- WFP is also procuring an additional nearly 1.8 million HEBs to ready for shipment. And it’s transporting rice via ship by way of Sri Lanka.
Part of what has made the situation in the Philippines so dire, aside from the fact that Haiyan was one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land, is that the country was barely afforded enough time to breathe in the wake of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake a month earlier that killed over 100 people and caused its own massive damage.
So far, the US government has pledged $7.75 million in cash to help the WFP deliver food to the Philippines, and the United Nations, which briefed Asia on Tuesday on the need for substantial donations, has specifically asked for an additional $83 million for the organization. Anyone, however, can donate on the WFP’s website.