Indigenous and rural women lead emergency response to Typhoons Vamco, Goni

The third deadly super storm to hit the Philippines in just three weeks, Typhoon Vamco has torn through the same communities as typhoons Goni and Molave causing further destruction of homes and livelihoods.


ActionAid’s partner in the Philippines, Women in Emergencies Network (WENet), is working with local member organisations in Bicol and Mindoro island where indigenous and rural women are providing emergency relief to their communities.

Speaking from Manila, Judy Pasimio, coordinator at indigenous women’s rights organisation LILAK, said battering winds and heavy rains continued throughout the night and many families still have no electricity.

“Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) has hit communities still reeling from the destructive force of Goni. It is worse than we expected, trees are down, roofs are blown off and flooding in coastal areas is terrible,” Ms Pasimio said.

“Indigenous communities in Mindoro and Quezon ae reporting further destruction of their homes and farmland. For families who have already lost so much to multiple typhoons, landslides, violent winds and COVID-19, this will be devastating.”

Ms Pasimio said indigenous communities in Nueva Vizcaya, which are near an Australian gold and copper mine were concerned that flooding and landslides could cause toxic waste from the mine to spill onto their farmland.

LILAK is working with women from the Hanunuo Mangyan community, who were trained as emergency responders following Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 7,360 people and is one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the island nation.

The women are distributing emergency relief to their communities, to help rebuild homes and provide essential food support, water, hygiene kits and blankets. LILAK is also using SMS messages to send out vital public health information and updates on COVID-19 and tropical storms to help keep hard to reach communities safe.

As violence against women and girls increases during emergencies, ActionAid is working with the National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK), to ensure that services to address gender-based violence remain open and set up GBV watch groups to protect women and girls.

Amparo Miciano Sykioco, secretary general at PKKK, said the storms, flooding and landslides could push women in some of the poorest and most remote areas further into poverty.

“Women were in a dire situation before these three typhoons due to COVID-19. Many farmers and fisherfolks lost their livelihoods during lockdown, making them more vulnerable, especially women and girls,” Ms Sykioco said.

“The typhoons are adding a heavy burden to the already overflowing amount of unpaid care work that is falling on rural women. Women are often the ones who look after children, disabled people and older family members during and after emergencies, but this work remains undervalued, invisible and neglected.”

ActionAid Australia has launched an emergency appeal for the typhoon response in the Philippines and Vietnam.

For interviews with ActionAid’s partners in the Philippines, please contact Liz Pick, ActionAid Australia’s Media and Communications Manager on +61 (0)422 105 840 or [email protected].