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Cargill PH partners with CARE Philippines to increase Covid vaccination rates in the country

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Collaborating with 30 barangay local units to create vaccine awareness for ~260,000 people

Manila, Philippines (January 19, 2022)— Cargill and CARE Philippines, have collaborated with non-government organizations and business partners, to boost the vaccination rates in select areas of Bulacan Province, Batangas and South Cotabato by the end of 2021 through the COVID-19 Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and Vaccination Roll-Out project. This vaccine advocacy project is expected to reach about 260,000 people.

More than a year after the Philippines launched its efforts for mass vaccination against COVID-19, there is still much work to be done to achieve population protection. The National Task Force against COVID-19 released statistics showcasing a slowed down rate of administering shots last October with only 375,773 compared to 523,018 of August 2021.

A possible reason could still be the existing hesitancies from Filipinos about vaccination, with only 61% of the population being willing to be vaccinated based from a survey released by the Octa Research group last October 22.

The Social Weather Stations conducted a survey to find out what the possible reasons are why Filipinos are unwilling despite being offered a free vaccination. The fear of possible side effects ranks as number one in the list followed by old age, being diagnosed with comorbidities and belief in reports of fatality.

“In Cargill, putting people first has always been a part of our values. And this value of caring for people goes beyond our employees and extends to those in the communities where  we live and work. Through the RCCE and Vaccination Roll-Out Project,  we aim to tip the scale in favor of population protection from COVID, thus allowing ourselves and our communities to bounce back from this pandemic,” said Christopher Ilagan, Cargill Philippines’ Corporate Affairs Director.

The RCCE and Vaccination Roll-Out Project, which is being implemented in Malolos City, Baliwag and Pulilan in Bulacan Province, Sto. Tomas City in Batangas, and General Santos City in South Cotabato, aims to support 30 barangay local government units (BLGUs) to increase their capacities in implementing COVID-19 policies and help encourage their residents to get vaccinated. More than 2,450 barangay officials, health workers and members of the peacekeeping team have already been trained by medical professionals to further spread information and provide communication about the risks of COVID-19 and vaccination benefits.

Support was also given to BLGUs with low vaccination rates by providing free transportation for vaccination to residents – especially women, PWDs and the elderly – from far-flung areas of the covered locations. Incentives were also given, like rice, food and hygiene kits, to encourage other community members to participate.

In alignment with the proclamation that 30 November – 01 December and 17-19 December 2021 as National Vaccination Days, the RCCE Project in  Batangas and Bulacan provided  free rides to 2,420 individuals from far flung barangays to the vaccination sites, free snacks and sanitary kits and distribution of information, education and campaign materials. The Community Health Educators (CHEs) hired and trained by the project also provided additional health manpower during the vaccination events at the selected barangays. Additionally, about 4,000 community members received rice and hygiene kits incentives from the project. Among these community members whom the project assisted to be vaccinated, more 700 of them confessed that previously, they are hesitant to take the shot but through the community education conducted by the project, they were encouraged to get vaccinated.

Romy M. Pagaduan, the chairperson of Brgy. Ligaya, General Santos City said that the project has made it easier for them to convince their residents to get vaccinated. He shared that his barangay is among those which have low vaccination rates due to people being less-informed, if not misinformed, about COVID-19 and the vaccines. “We now have the right answers to their questions especially those that were drawn from information they got from social media and rumors spread in the barangay”, he said.

The project is led by CARE Philippines and being implemented with Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) and Sarangani Province Empowerment for Community Transformation Forum (Spectrum) in General Santos City, Southern Tagalog People’s Resource Center (STPRC) in Batangas and CARE Philippines in Bulacan with participation from Cargill employees across all these areas. 

INCREASE Project turns over EWS Equipment and IEC materials in Mt. Province

Early Warning Systems (EWS) equipment were officially turned over to the community members and barangay officials of Natonin and Barlig, Mt. Province last September 8 and 9, 2021. 

EWS equipment include basic emergency and first aid equipment such as generators, spine boards with strap, two-way radios, amplifiers, public awareness devices, bells, rope, sets of BP apparatus, first aid kits, among others. All of which were identified by community members who were actively engaged in community risk assessments and contingency planning workshops conducted as part of the INCREASE: Increasing the Resilience to Natural Hazards project. Along with the equipment, household level flyers about the specific hazards in their community and the evacuation plan, and EWS signage containing warning signals and actions for community members were also handed over during the turn over ceremony.

In Barlig, barangay officials and representatives from INCREASE covered barangays, Kaleo, Chupac, Lunas, and Ogo-og, and Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative were present during the turn-over ceremony. Female household heads who were the main participants of the Resilient Livelihood activities of INCREASE, also attended the ceremony and offered a song of appreciation to CARE Philippines and Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services representatives. In Natonin, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Officer along with Barangay Balangao and Alonugan officials and female household heads received the equipment and IEC materials. 

People-centered EWS

EWS is an adaptive measure for climate change, using integrated communication systems to help communities prepare for hazardous climate-related events. This means that through EWS, community members receive relevant and timely information in a systematic way prior to a disaster in order to make informed decisions and take action. A successful EWS can save lives and livelihood. To be effective, EWS needs to actively involve the communities at risk, facilitate public education and awareness of risks, effectively disseminate messages and warnings and ensure there is constant state of preparedness. 

During INCREASE workshops, risk information and the necessary equipment to relay warning signals were identified. This information was identified by the community members and barangay officials, and was documented and translated into IEC materials to make sure that warnings are understandable by all members of the community. 

The need for EWS Equipment

“When Typhoon Rosita hit our area, we thought it was the end. The experience awakened our community. We exhausted every means to prepare for the next disaster. Thanks to INCREASE Project, we were able to identify early warning devices needed in our area to better respond to natural hazards,” shared Brgy. Balangao Chairperson Conrado Limangan, upon receiving the EWS equipment. 

Recalling the worst typhoon in their memory, community members mentioned that since they had no equipment back then, members of the Barangay DRRM Council would only be shouting to instruct community members to evacuate their homes. Power and communication lines were interrupted then, hence they identified a generator as one of the main EWS equipment needed in their area. Natonin Municipal DRRM Officer Soledad Nasudman recognizes this and shared, “Thank you for bringing the project nearer to us. Even if the BDRRMC officials are capacitated, if equipment is not available, response and preparedness would not be as effective.”

Natonin and Barlig are both prone to typhoons and landslides. During their community risk assessments and contingency planning workshops, community members shared that they experience at least 3 to 4 typhoons in a year. One barangay was also named as the “Home of Rain” since rain is nonstop in the area for almost the whole year. While community members recognize the need for EWS equipment and IEC materials, they also acknowledge that they need to find a funding source for the purchase and installment of EWS. Barangay Chupac Chairperson, Benedicto Nabunat shared, “We express our deepest appreciation to the INCREASE team for the equipment because we know that our barangay’s budget can’t afford to provide these. We are thankful because it’s rare that a project reaches an isolated area like ours.” In addition to these equipment, risk maps plotting the community facilities, houses, forests, and farmlands, their level of susceptibility to several hazards that can affect them will be put up. To test the early actions and preparedness capacities of the officials and community members, a drill will also be conducted as part of the INCREASE Project.  

INCREASE aims to increase the resilience of 45,000 women and men small-scale farmers and fishers, including 720 extreme poor female-headed households, to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. It is present in 4 provinces, 8 municipalities, and 33 barangays. CARE Philippines and CorDis RDS lead its implementation in Mt. Province. 

Module: Preparedness Module for Rain-Induced Lahar

This lahar preparedness module aims to serve as a guide for municipal and barangay council members to create their own lahar preparedness plan or as a supplement in the development of their lahar contingency plans or operational module.

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