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Typhoon Rai made an initial landfall in Siargao Island, province of Surigao del Norte in Caraga region, northern Mindanao on 16 December 2021. It carried gusts up to 270 km/h with maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h near the centre making it the strongest storm to make landfall in the Philippines this year. The trail of the Typhoon Rai crossed the Philippine archipelago from Caraga to Eastern and Central Visayas and Palawan.

As of 20 December 2021, at least 208 people have died and 52 are still missing following its passage across Visayas and Mindanao Islands. The Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported more than 630,000 displaced (of which 438,359 in 2,841 evacuation centers) and 1,805,000 affected across nine regions of central-southern Philippines. 54,783 houses were damaged, 20,102 damaged and 34,681 partially damaged.

There are over 120 languages spoken in the Philippines. Filipino, the standardized form of Tagalog, is the national language and used in formal education throughout the country. in the provinces where Typhoon Rai made landfall (Bohol, Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Negros Oriental, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte), there are over 31 languages spoken. Cebuano is the most commonly spoken language, and 21% (2.02 million) of the population of those provinces speak a minority language (i.e. not the most commonly spoken language in their province) as their main language.  

In times of need, communication with communities is key. Yet, emergencies can strain local communication infrastructure, and those who provide language services may themselves be affected.

To alleviate suffering and contribute to rapid recovery, it is important to get life-saving information to communities quickly, including through radio broadcasts and digital channels, in the languages of those affected. To ensure less well educated people and second-language speakers understand, communication should be short, simple, and clearly illustrated. Important information — including how to access services and where to report abuse — should be provided in plain language, without jargon, and with pictures when possible.

To find out how to support CLEAR Global’s work in crisis response, email us: info@clearglobal.org.