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The Typhoon Response We Need

Posted on: Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Keywords: Environmental Justice

Millions of women and families in the Philippines have seen their communities and livelihoods washed away, destroyed by the terrible impact of Typhoon Haiyan. Many of them are hurt, displaced and urgently seeking help.

With your support, MADRE has mobilized an emergency response. We are providing humanitarian aid for people in communities that are off-the-grid of large relief operations. Women and Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately represented among the poor, leaving them with few resources to recover after a disaster.

But women and Indigenous Peoples are vital leaders in disaster response. Women’s roles as caretakers for the most vulnerable people, including children and the elderly, mean that they have essential knowledge about the needs of their communities. And Indigenous Peoples are crucial environmental stewards, protecting local ecologies, and they hold the solutions for rebuilding on a sustainable basis.

MADRE is supporting two local groups in this effort. KARAPATAN is a women’s group providing emergency relief in the Eastern Visayas, in particular in towns in Leyte and Samar. Tebtebba is an Indigenous Peoples’ network, channeling support to remote and isolated Indigenous communities. With MADRE member support, they are distributing humanitarian relief and providing psychosocial therapy for survivors of the Typhoon.

At the Climate Change Conference

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Warsaw, Poland, an international conference on climate change sponsored by the UN fails to match the urgency demanded by crises like this typhoon. A near complete consensus by the global scientific community indicates that climate change has been triggered by human industrial activity. This climate change is increasing the destructiveness of super-storms.

Yet in Warsaw, the leaders of the nations that are most responsible for the carbon emissions that have created this lethal climate change--mainly Western, industrialized nations--have continued a decades-long pattern of avoiding action to curb emissions. What’s more, a leaked memo from the US delegation shows that they intend to oppose a mechanism to provide funding for adaptation to countries in the Global South, countries that are least responsible for and most at risk of the threats of climate change--countries like the Philippines.

A delegate from the Philippines, Yeb Saño, issued a powerful call to his colleagues, as he began a hunger fast to demand action: “Stop this madness.” The price of this “madness” has been a failure to respond adequately to global climate change, at the cost of thousands of lives in the Philippines and countless lives across the world.

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