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Since the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in late 2013, the WASH situation in Eastern Samar has improved, though chronic issues linked to access to safe drinking water remain. Many households have water points and storage, but the only treatment option for the water is boiling, as none of the water treatment products distributed as a response to typhoon Haiyan are available in the market place. Though the demand for sanitation has increased, little has been done to address the supply of affordable services. Every year, Eastern Samar is hit by an average of 20 typhoons, and the periodic El Nino phenomenon threatens to enhance the strength of the typhoons. Because of the ongoing typhoon recovery, chronic WASH issues and high poverty incidence, people remain vulnerable to the impacts of a potential future typhoon.
Following typhoon Haiyan, Oxfam's response in Eastern Samar has transitioned from early recovery to development, with a priority on market-based approaches and disaster preparedness programming. In light of this, Oxfam wished to implement a Pre-Crisis Market Mapping and Analysis (PCMMA) in order to inform the development of livelihoods and WASH programmes and preparedness ahead of the next typhoon season. The study focused on two critical market systems, those for household water treatment products (HWTP) and financial services for the poor (with a focus on loan and credit services).
HWTPs such as HypoSol, aquatabs and chlorine granules are available for purchase from the pharmacy or for free from the rural health units (RHUs). After the typhoon, the Barangay Health Units received HWTP from the RHUs and from INGOs and distributed them to the population. In normal times, however, the Barangay Health Units visited did not have any stocks of HWTP. Households wanting these products must request them directly at the RHU, where there is generally enough stock to meet the demand and the products are free. The demand is mainly linked to outbreaks of diarrhoea, when concerns about water quality are higher. The availability of products in the government health units partly explains the low supply in stores or pharmacies. Pharmacists claimed they could increase their supply if demand were to increase.
Many informal and formal actors offer loan or credit services to the poor in Eastern Samar. Supply is consequently not an issue, as the more clients financial service providers have, the more income they make through interest. Demand is significant throughout the year; 85% of respondents had already taken a loan or credit in non-emergency times, and 50% did following the typhoon. Poor and very poor people access food, medicine and hygiene items through credit in difficult times, usually at local shops where they are known and trusted. After the typhoon, households resorted to the same formal and informal lending actors to access basic needs, repair their homes, recover their livelihoods and pay education fees and costs. Amounts borrowed were smaller than usual, as capacity to repay was reduced due to the typhoon’s impacts on livelihoods.
For the HWTP market system, the report recommends the following preparedness and market strengthening activities: collaboration with RHU on pre-stocking of HWTPs ahead of the typhoon season, awareness raising sessions on the availability and use of HWTPs, infrastructure support, rehabilitation of damaged water systems, supporting local traders and pharmacies to stock HWTPs in advance and mapping of actors willing to participate in a voucher scheme for HWTPs. In a future emergency, the report recommends a vouchers-for-HWTPs intervention, possibly linked with EFSVL programming. For financial services, the report recommends helping sari-sari store owners to become more resilient to shocks through better preparedness, advocacy for reduced interest rates, financial literacy training, awareness raising on the different financial services available and additional mapping of services. In a future typhoon, the report recommends supporting shopkeepers or their suppliers through cash or vouchers and supporting informal money lenders to continue offering their services to the poor and very poor.