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In Conversation with the Governor of Capiz, Philippines

Our local correspondent catches up with Governor Victor Tanco about typhoon relief efforts in his province.
The Governor of Capiz, Victor Tanco. Credit: L. Grosjean
The Governor of Capiz, Victor Tanco. Credit: L. Grosjean

Action Against Hunger communications officer, Lucile Grosjean, sat down with the governor of Capiz, a Philippine province badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan. Here’s what he had to say about the situation his province is facing.

Q: How has the Typhoon affected the province of Capiz?

A: According to the information we have today, some 692,000 people were affected by the typhoon, 130,000 houses were totally or partially destroyed, and 160,000 people were made homeless and have taken shelter in 841 evacuation sites.

Fortunately, we managed to limit casualties—we anticipated the typhoon’s arrival and imposed a mandatory evacuation for almost all coastal residents as a preventive measure, even against their will. Given the extent of damage and the number of houses destroyed, it has clearly saved lives.

In economic terms, the losses are also enormous: we assess the damage to infrastructure at $87 million, those in the agricultural sector to $16 million, those in the fishing industry to $8 million. Our province mainly relies on agriculture and fishing. The economy is heavily affected and we need funds.

Q: What are your administration’s priorities?

A: Our main priorities are restoring electricity and telecommunication networks. Fortunately, hospitals are generally functional. Drinking water is also one of our biggest problems; many sources have been contaminated. We are prioritizing food and shelter, as 90% of homes were destroyed in some areas. Rebuilding houses will be the biggest operation the province has ever seen. We also need to repair roads and bridges, which will be a huge undertaking.

Our municipalities provided initial distributions of food, water, water filters, etc., but our supplies have run out; we need international assistance. Our priority is food, including food distributions in evacuation centers. After that, we will begin rebuilding, but I fear that our province will never be as it was before.

Q: Where is the help for the province?

A: The day after the disaster, we transformed government offices into a command center largely dedicated to humanitarian coordination—including all humanitarian actors working in this area. The coordination has been very helpful as everyone ends up here in the evening to exchange relevant information.

I am extremely touched by all the international support and the influx of experts from around the world who have traveled so far. They really came to help. There are good organizations here, and good cooperation, so relief efforts are going well.

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