Floods in Philippines poised greater danger for the elderly.
Philippines is home to several calamities, disasters and humanitarian crises. In fact, it is the third among the countries in Asia most frequently hit by disasters in 2010 that affected almost 4 million people (Citizens’ Disaster and Response Center (CDRC), 2010) . Especially during these inevitable disasters, our elderly are among those who are in need of extra assistance and support. At present, the roles of the older persons in relief services are only restricted to be at the receiving end and this puts them in a more vulnerable position. Because of climate change, the wide implementation of disaster preparedness programs and services in the country has been in the priority list of the government.
A local study by the Coalition of the Services of the Elderly (COSE) conducted among 92 elderly respondents has identified the needs of the older persons during calamities. 17% reported that they get separated from their families which adds to the burden as they have difficulty in doing their ADL’s without a family member that could provide assistance. It was also found out that food donations from several organizations had been their sustenance after the crises. However almost half of the respondents claimed they received uncooked food and food donations were only available for a day .Water supply is also insufficient; 45 respondents had water supply but 10 had no access to water and 26 reported water sources were submerged in flood water. Calamities put the elderly in higher risk in terms of water supply potability such that 70% in the study had sanitation related illnesses like diarrhea.
In the same study, respondents mentioned that the evacuation centers were overcrowded.They were also compelled to sleep in the cold cement floor. Most of them were also unable to travel to evacuation centers because of weakness due to arthritis or rheumatism. Medical services were provided free however, medicines were not enough for the affected population.
Filipino communities rely in the different disaster preparedness programs of several organizations. One particular project is CDRC’s Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation for Flood and Landslide Prone Communities which from its start has contributed in educating the people in disaster readiness.