Emergency Response – Zamboanga

Project Emergency Response – Zamboanga

• To address public health concerns caused by bad hygiene practices and sanitation facilities • To reduce the spread of communicable diseases that are spread as a result of bad hygiene and sanitation practices • To restore and uphold the dignity of individuals displaced by the conflict through the provision of essential hygiene related items • To support relief operations in Zamboanga City by coordinating with other actors in efforts to maximise resources and avoid duplication of services

Project Partners MinHRAC

Hygiene Kit Distribution

Locations Zamboanga City
Period 30 September – 10 October 2013

Distributed 2,500 Hygiene Kits to the most vulnerable beneficiaries affected by the conflict


Fighting broke out between a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP) in the coastal villages of Zamboanga City on 9 September 2013. The fighting initially displaced at least 4,000 people and more than 100 civilians were taken hostage to be used as human shields. As fighting intensified the number of people who were forced to leave their homes and relocate to evacuation centres grew exponentially to 63,000 within the first week itself. MERCY Malaysia has established a notable presence in the region with strong working ties with government agencies as well as with international and local organisations, having conducted emergency relief work in various parts of Mindanao over the past two years and development projects in the neighbouring areas of Cotabato and Maguindanao. Being part of the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT) which is headed by UNOCHA, an appeal was made to provide much needed support to the relief operations in Zamboanga City. Thus a decision was made to respond to the needs of the affected population as spelled out by UNOCHA.


MERCY Malaysia in partnership with the Mindanao Human Rights Action Centre (MinHRAC) initiated a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) intervention in order to tackle the growing need for WASH services in the already overcrowded evacuation centres. As public health concerns grew with the ever increasing displaced persons, MinHRAC was tasked to carry out rapid assessments to determine the most critical evacuation centres where WASH needs were needed. Due to the high security risk in Zamboanga City and the ever present threat to international personnel, MinHRAC was tasked as the implementing partner of MERCY Malaysia and carried out the distribution of Hygiene Kits through their local staff.

Based on the assessment carried out by MinHRAC through its local volunteers and monitors in Zamboanga City, a hygiene kit was designed according to the needs of the displaced families. The Hygiene Kits contained toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, detergent, sanitary napkins, towel and slippers and were designed to cover a total of 2,500 families.

The procurement of the items had to be done in Pagadian City as supplies in Zamboanga had run out and the supply chain had been crippled by the ongoing conflict. A team of three persons from MinHRAC’s headquarters in Cotabato had to travel to Pagadian City, which is the largest city midway between Cotabato and Zamboanga, to procure the hygiene items which were then transferred to Zamboanga where they were then packed in MinHRAC’s Zamboanga Satellite Office.

The packing of the Hygiene Kits was carried out with the help of community volunteers, many of whom were displaced as well. The team re-packed the Hygiene Kits throughout the night and commenced with the distribution the next morning in collaboration with the City Social Welfare and Development. A total of 2500 kits were distributed in areas where they were deemed most necessary. These locations included Magna Building Evacuation Centre, Sta. Maria Elementary School Evacuation Centre, Home-based IDPs in Barangay Baliwasan, Barangay Tumaga and Barangay Talon-Talon, Al-Jahara Mosque and the Cawa-cawa shoreline.