US aid to Mayon-hit families reaches P13M

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

July 10, 2023, 5:23 pm

MANILA – The United States has provided nearly PHP13 million in humanitarian support to communities affected by the continuing unrest of Mayon Volcano, the US Embassy in Manila said Monday.

Of the total amount, more than PHP11 million (USD200,000) was allocated for immediate humanitarian assistance while the remaining PHP1.86 million (USD33,600) was spent on education materials.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) continues to provide clean water, essential hygiene items, and emergency shelter to over 2,500 individuals in evacuation centers in the municipalities of Camalig, Guinobatan, Libon, Malilipot, and Santo Domingo, all in Albay.

The two agencies also support local communities to manage the evacuation centers and repair their critical water and sanitation infrastructure.

To ensure learning continuity for an estimated 6,000 students and 200 teachers, USAID also donated learner and teacher kits to 19 schools affected by the eruption.

Some 58,000 family food packs were also transported to affected communities through USAID's support to the UN World Food Programme and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Apart from humanitarian assistance, USAID has been working year-round with Philippine partners to develop programs that enhance the country’s disaster preparedness and response.

One program is the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, which USAID has supported for more than 35 years, offering hazard assessment training, early warning system development, and volcano monitoring equipment installation to disaster monitoring organizations like the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Phivolcs has monitored an increased activity from Mayon Volcano’s summit crater and has cautioned those living within the seven and eight-kilometer radius.

As of July 9, the agency recorded at least 33 pyroclastic density currents or fast-moving mixture of volcanic gases, ash and rock fragments due to dome collapse from Mayon Volcano’s summit crater and the collapsing front and margins of the advancing lava flows on the upper to middle slopes.

The number of families affected by the restive volcano since it was placed under alert 3 on June 8 has ballooned to 9,667 or at least 38,376 people. (PNA)