Philippines: People left begging for scraps of food in towns ravaged by Typhoon Rai

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Country hit by £450 million in damage, with farming and fishing worst affected

The Philippines is struggling to recover from last month’s massive Typhoon Rai, with people begging for scraps of food in some of the towns which were worst affected, Oxfam said today.

The international agency is also warning of the longer-term damage, due to crops and infrastructure being destroyed. More than 420,000 hectares of land have been lost to storm floods, and as many as 925,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Key staple crops like rice, coconut and sugarcane have been wiped out across some regions of the country.

The Philippines’ fisheries industry has lost over £40 million worth of fishing boats, gear, and stock while losses to agricultural crops and farmland is estimated to be almost £160 million. The damage to homes, roads, electricity and water lines is set to cost more than £250 million.

Oxfam Philippines Country Director Lot Felizco said: “Our staff reported finding people begging for scraps of food in the towns that were worst hit in Southern Leyte.

“As the rest of the world starts a new year with hope, nearly seven million people – more than the entire population of Denmark - are struggling to come to terms with their homes damaged or destroyed and main incomes gone. Nearly 390,000 farmers and fishing folk have had their crops flattened, fishing boats smashed, or livestock killed or lost. They have been left with nothing.”

Typhoon Rai was the last – and by far the strongest – of fifteen typhoons to hit The Philippines in 2021. Oxfam says extreme weather events like Typhoon Rai are a warning of worse to come, yet the COP26 climate talks showed an appalling disregard of the financial plan needed to compensate countries, like The Philippines, for loss and damage caused by climate change.

Oxfam is urging rich polluting countries to honour their promises not only to cut carbon emissions to avoid a catastrophic global temperature rise above 1.5C, but to also stump up funding for mitigation and adaptation – and loss and damage – to poorer countries.

Climate-fueled extreme weather events, compounded by economic fallout from COVID-19 and existing inequalities, have pushed millions of vulnerable people in the Philippines to the brink of hunger and poverty. In 2021, over 26 million people – nearly a quarter of the population – were already living under the poverty line, where families of five earn less than £175 a month. A survey in September 2021 found that 2.5 million Filipinos went hungry at least once in the previous three months.

Petronilo Bohol, from Malitbog village, Southern Leyte, who relies on fishing to make a living and had already been hit by two other storms before Rai said: “We live here because our only livelihood comes from the sea. We pulled out all the boats for safety, but the waves still reached them and reached the roads. Typhoon Rai was bigger and stronger than the two previous ones.“

Ramon Cabarrubias, a welder from Malitbog village, Southern Leyte, told Oxfam: “[During the storm] we crowded in our bathroom thinking that it was going to be our end. The next day, we came out to nothing. My mechanic tools are gone. Even my boat disappeared.”

Funding is urgently needed to provide lifesaving food and water, and to help people rebuild their homes, crops and businesses. Oxfam is calling for £3.3 million to help support its part of the collective humanitarian response in the country.


For more information or an interview, contact:

Sarah Dransfield in the UK | | Tel: +44 (0)7884 114825
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero in the Philippines | | Viber +639175691449
Shiza Malik in Pakistan | | +92-3224875415

Notes to editors

To donate to Oxfam’s Typhoon rai appeal, please visit:

  • Figures on loss and damages according to Department of Agriculture - DRRM Operations Center. As of 3 Jan 2022
  • Figures on infrastructure loss and damages are according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
  • The towns worst hit, where Oxfam staff have reported people begging for scraps of food are: Bontoc, Padre Burgos, Tomas Oppus and Malitbog.
  • According to 2015-2020 data from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, around 54.9 million or 64% Filipinos are chronically food insecure (IPC-Chronic level 2 and above). There are 14.5 million in level 3; and 7.1 million in level 4, totaling 21.6 million in IPC3 and above.
  • Typhoon Rai has killed more than 400 people, damaged nearly 925,000 houses, displaced over half a million people from their homes, and left 6.8 million people in desperate humanitarian need.
  • Oxfam, together with eight local partners, have already reached over 38,000 people in the worst-hit communities in in Southern Leyte, Leyte province, and Siargao islands, with food packs, shelter repair materials, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, water kits, solar lights and solar packs. They also provided pre-disaster financial aid to 2,650 families in Eastern Samar to help them prepare for the typhoon.
  • Data on hunger by the Social Weather Survey (SWS) reported in the 3rd quarter of 2021.
  • Data on losses in agriculture and fishery sectors are from Philippines Department of Agriculture as of 6 Jan 2022

Press contact

For comments, interviews, or information please contact Sarah Dransfield (Senior Press Officer):