TaalBatangas – On January 12, 2020, Taal Volcano surprised the nearby provinces of Batangas and Cavite with an eruption after 43 years of being calm and silent. The disaster immediately put the nearby areas at risk and giving dilemma to its residents. The PHIVOLCS immediately raised the activity of Taal Volcano to Alert Level 4 due to the release of high amount of gases and lava. Ash Fall covered nearby towns and provinces up to Metro Manila and some parts of Region 3. Ash Fall covered hectares of farmlands, commercial complex and livelihood of the affected population. The affected residences within the 14km radius from the volcano have been forced to evacuate for their own safety. Many municipalities in Batangas and Cavite were lock down.

When a disaster strike and had affected numerous people, emergency response should be initiated. With more than one affected provinces, response should be elevated up to the regional level. In this case the Regional Nutrition Committee (RNC) of CALABARZON immediately convened a meeting to strategize their intervention. Teams will be deployed to the evacuation centers of affected areas and will conduct Nutrition Initial Needs Assessment (NINA) and nutrition services such as Rapid Nutrition Assessment and Vitamin A supplementation to children 0-59months old. The RNC of CALABARZON requested for assistance from each other region for deployment to the evacuation areas. The NNC Central Office, Region 3, National Capital Region, MIMAROPA, Cagayan Valley gave representatives to provide additional manpower and support to the deployed teams.

The different teams conducted nutrition services such as giving of vitamin A, Rapid Nutrition Assessment, IYCF counselling, provision of RUSF and RUTF to severely and moderately acute malnourished (MAM and SAM) children aged 6-59 months, provision Plumpy Mum for pregnant and lactating mothers who are nutritionally at risk, posting DOH Advisory on Breastfeeding and EO 51 tarpaulins and giving IEC materials like Nutrikomiks. The team made sure that evacuation centers have a mother friendly space, community kitchen, IEC materials, signages and storage of pasteurized milk. Identified nutritionally at risk population were also endorsed to the BNSs and as well as to the Municipal Nutrition Action Officers for monitoring.

The PHIVOLCS recently reduced the alert level to 3 which allowed most of the families to return to their houses. Living in the evacuation centers was very difficult for the affected population, with no comforts of their homes. The livelihood of the affected families might also be affected; hence, they will have to rely to donations and other help from different sectors. This may affect their morals in a negative way.

Nutrition services during emergencies are vital in the prevention of further deterioration of the nutrition status of the affected population. It is also important to prioritize vulnerable population such as children 0-59 months old, pregnant and lactation women, and elderly people since they need more nutrition and proper care than any other age groups in times of a calamity. Capacity building among the local nutrition clusters and strong commitment of nutrition cluster from barangays up to national level will ensure provision of affected and efficient nutrition services during calamities. - AVETPatriarca