The January 12 eruption of the Taal Volcano – the second most active in the Philippines – dropped ash and volcanic materials upon dozens of towns and villages, affecting 459,300 people on the island of Luzon and forcing 70,413 people to evacuate to 300 shelters in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna. Action Against Hunger is working to provide access to drinking water and basic sanitation and to distribute essential supplies, including blankets, mats, mosquito nets, and personal hygiene kits.
“The ashes and volcanic gases have not only destroyed houses, but fields as well – the main source of income for many families,” says Melinda Marie Buensuceso, Operations Coordinator for Action Against Hunger in the Philippines and a member of the emergency team deployed to the Batangas area for a rapid needs assessment. “Nearly half a million people have been affected and the eruption has forced entire families to evacuate and leave everything. Many of those evacuated did not have any time to prepare and fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”
At first, the column of gases, rock fragments, and steam spewing from Taal Volcano reached a height of nearly 10 miles high. Moving southwest, the eruption covered everything in its path with ash and volcanic material. Those in the most affected area – the region within a radius of roughly 9 miles from the volcano’s crater – have already been evacuated, and it is estimated that the number of displaced people will continue to increase. An additional 930,000 people live within 11 miles of the danger zone and could soon be affected by high pyroclastic density or a possible volcanic tsunami.
Action Against Hunger, working with the Spanish Cooperation Agency (AECID), is distributing the mostly urgently needed supplies, including blankets, mats and mosquito nets. We are also launching emergency projects to ensure access to drinking water and basic sanitation.
Our teams have been working in the Philippines since 2000 and have deployed several emergency interventions following natural disasters in the country, such as typhoons and earthquakes, including Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.