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World Humanitarian Day 2023 Message

  • CARE Philippines
  • Blog, Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories

This message was delivered by CARE Philippines’ Program Manager for ECHO Actions, Ansherina Talavera on the Worl Humanitarian Day 2023 commemoration at the Peoples’ Palace in Cotabato City.

“Globally, and here at home, we face a new norm marked by increasingly frequent and devastating disasters. Natural hazards, armed conflict and violence, climate challenges, and environmental crises are realities that confront us now and in the future. 

As humanitarians, the context we work in and the challenges we face in delivering life-saving humanitarian aid are also evolving and becoming more complex. 

On this World Humanitarian Day, we reaffirm our commitment to the values and humanitarian principles that guide us to stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities and people we serve, no matter who, no matter where and #NoMatterWhat. 

#NoMatterWho – We commit to continue to provide humanitarian assistance without discrimination, recognizing that each life is of equal value. WE are committed to deliver humanitarian assistance regardless of nationality, religious belief, gender, class or political opinion. We reach out and provide assistance to people affected by disasters and who are most in need. 

#NoMatterWhere – We deliver humanitarian aid no matter where, giving priority to last mile communities. We remain steadfast with our mission to alleviate human suffering and provide aid where it is needed the most. We deliver support to last mile communities, the most affected, the most vulnerable, the hardest to reach, and receiving less assistance or none at all.  

#NoMatterWhat – We deliver assistance no matter what the difficulties we face. As humanitarians, we ensure the safety of staff and disaster-affected populations, and that no harm befall them. And this means careful planning, diligent implementation, and unwavering dedication to overcome these challenges, to provide humanitarian assistance – no matter what.

In the context of localisation, #NoMatterWhat signifies our resolve to invest in strengthening local capacities, ensuring that the burden of risks is not shifted to local partners and humanitarian actors.

Placing people and communities at the core of our humanitarian work, and our unshakeable commitment to uphold the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence, we have developed strong partnerships with local NGOs, and key duty-bearers, foremost the government at local, subnational and national levels, and the donor community. As we face more complex situations ahead, we will hold on to the humanitarian principles as the solid foundation of our partnerships with rights-holders and duty-bearers alike, believing in everyone’s humanity. #NoMatterWhere, #NoMatterWho and #NoMatterWhat.  

CARE and its partner ACCORD set up a photo gallery in commemoration of WHD2023 in Cotabato City.

CARE, partners prepare for STS Egay as it intensifies into a typhoon

  • CARE Philippines
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Press Release, Uncategorized

Manila, Philippines (July 23, 2023)- CARE and its local partners prepare for Severe tropical storm Egay (international name “Doksuri”) as it has further intensified while moving west-northwestward over the Philippine Sea and is forecasted to reach typhoon category within 24 hours and may become a super typhoon on Tuesday.  

In its 5 p.m. weather bulletin on July 23 the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) forecasted STS Egay to bring heavy rainfall in Catanduanes, Cagayan, the eastern section of Isabela, Polilio Islands, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Albay. The forecasted rainfall is generally higher in elevated or mountainous areas. And under these conditions, flooding and rain-induced landslides are possible, especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards as identified in hazard maps and in localities that experienced considerable amounts of rainfall for the past several days.

In the next three days, STS Egay may also enhance the Southwest Monsoon, bringing occasional rains and gustiness over several areas in the country.

CARE and its partners, Leyte Center for Development and Tarabang para Bicol (TABI) prepare and are ready to respond to the combined effects of STS Egay and the Southwest monsoon and the needs of vulnerable communities that would be affected in Catanduanes, Eastern Visayas, and Bicol Region respectively.

“We have a field office in Catanduanes and ongoing humanitarian programs with our partners in the areas that would be potentially affected by STS Egay. We are ready to activate assessment and quick response mechanisms in coordination with our partner organizations and local government units on the ground”, said Jerome Lanit, CARE Philippines’ Emergency Coordinator.

CARE has been working in the Philippines since 1949, helping communities prepare for disasters, and providing emergency relief and recovery when disaster strikes. It has responded to major disasters such as typhoons and super typhoons, conflicts, and seismologic and health emergencies with focus on the needs of women and girls.

Contact Person:

Jerome L. Lanit, Emergency Coordinator


Baking Anew: A Typhoon Rai Survivor’s Story

After months of having her business stalled due to Typhoon Rai (Odette), Estelita, 43, has increased her income from baking and cooking bread locally known as “Pan de Bisaya” in San Isidro municipality in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.

This type of bread is popular among the people on the island, including tourists, because of its simplicity and affordability. She bakes a batch early in the morning, usually paired by their customers with hot piping coffee. She then repeats the process in the afternoon when several people crave freshly baked bread after their siesta or during their idle time.

It takes hard work to knead the dough, heat the oven and bake the bread while ensuring it doesn’t get burned. She’s constantly exposed to the oven’s heat, which sometimes blurs her vision. But this was the only business she knows of and have mastered doing to support her family of nine.

She remembered how she and her husband were at a loss after the devastation of the typhoon left them with almost nothing. All her baking equipment and ingredients were damaged. They have seven children to feed, and with no income source, they feared they would go hungry. It was fortunate that the local government and non-government organizations provided them with various assistance to have food on the table while they look for ways how to earn a living.

Her husband resumed peddling a tricycle-for-hire. Meanwhile, Estelita refurbished their damaged traditional oven made of galvanized iron plain sheets. They restarted with a small capital, and she soon baked and sold bread at their yard. Her husband would sometimes deliver ordered bread to customers. Their income was just enough to afford their basic needs for food, water, and electricity. With the schools opening, the family needed a bigger income to fully address their children’s schooling needs.

CARE Philippines, through the Project WAVES (WoMen Adding Value to the Economy in Siargao) identified Elenita as a participant under the Women Enterprise Facility program, which gives livelihood opportunities to existing small businesses managed by women. She first attended the project’s “Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy Training” facilitated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Surigao del Norte.

Photo: A trainer from the Department of Trade and Industry-Surigao del Norte shows project participants how they could manage their finances wisely.

“I realized that I need to allocate a portion of my daily income to savings so that there’s money we could use in case of emergencies. I also aim to improve my business and how I record my expenses and income with what I have learned from the training”, Elenita said.

After the training, she received a 10,000-peso cash grant through the project on October 27, 2022. She used this amount as an added capital and bought baking ingredients, materials, and equipment.

Elenita bakes traditionally using a refurbished oven made from G.I. sheets at the side of the road accessible to commuters and tourists.

“My goal is to earn and save enough to have my own small bakery”, she shared.

This empowering support to women entrepreneurs like Estelita is one of the main goals of the WAVES project, which aims to address the critical needs of women and men in affected communities heavily dependent on the tourism industry. This project is a partnership between CARE and the Tijori Foundation which has been supporting communities and people in need in the country for several years now.

Hot meals comfort 4,276 Mayon Volcano evacuees

  • CARE Philippines
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Press Release

Mothers line up to get goto for their family to eat at the San Jose National High School evacuation center in Brgy. San Roque, Malilipot, Albay.

A total of 4,726 evacuees temporarily staying at eight evacuation centers in Camalig and Malilipot, Albay enjoyed the comfort that hot goto or organic rice with meat porridge provides on June 17, 18, 25 and 26.

The Tarabang para sa Bicol (TABI), with support from CARE Philippines, mobilized the members of the Tarabang Youth volunteers (TYVs), Sining Banwa, Disaster Preparedness Committees, barangay officials, private individuals, and some evacuees in preparing, cooking, and distributing the hot meals.

The evacuees who hailed from 6 barangays have been displaced from their communities since the start of the volcano’s magmatic unrest early in June. TABI observed that the affected population struggles to cook for their daily sustenance and survives on canned food. Meals like goto made with organic rice and protein provide nutrition and a break from the usual canned or instant meals they receive.

“Cooking together also helps them, especially, the mothers, ensure that their children will have something delicious and healthy to eat”, shared Arlo Brizuela, TABI’s Office-in-Charge.

In these feeding activities, their group observed how the displaced endured the uncomfortable spaces, tents, and classrooms, especially with the intense heat brought by the hot weather. Water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities are also lacking which brings various concerns on the safety of drinking water, and the possibility of related diseases.

Jocelyn Naga, a member of the Disaster Preparedness Committee in Brgy. Tumpa, Camalig, and an evacuee staying at Taladong Elementary School mentioned that some people are already getting sick, especially the children, due to their current living conditions.

The situation remains uncertain. On July 4, the DOST-PHIVOLCS reiterated that Alert Level 3 (increased tendency towards a hazardous eruption) still currently prevails over Mayon Volcano. It is strongly recommended that the areas inside the 6-kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone remain evacuated and that communities within the 7 and 8-kilometer radius be prepared in case the volcanic activity worsens.

Several of the evacuated rely on farming as their source of livelihood. They fear that they will not be able to go back immediately to tilling and providing their families with the necessities to recover because of the losses that their displacement brought about.

TABI staff and volunteers after a successful feeding activity at Malilipot Central School, Malilipot, Albay

CARE Philippines and TABI work together to come up with a more comprehensive humanitarian response to address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable affected population. Food, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, and non-food items such as kitchen and sleeping kits are some of the basic essentials that evacuees aspire to make their living conditions inside the evacuation centers tolerable.

“We plan to source support from our global partners for a humanitarian response that is also geared towards recovery, especially, of those who will have the most difficult time to bounce back and resume their livelihood”, said Jerome Lanit, CARE Philippines Emergency Coordinator.

Contact Person:

Jerome L. Lanit, Emergency Coordinator

jerome.lanit@care.org, +639175109417

Arlo Brizuela, OIC


Building a Safer Home after an Earthquake: Jemalin’s Story

Jemalin and her husband Mark were all smiles after reinforcing their house with Build Back Safer techniques. (Photo: CORDIS RDS)

“It is important to make our house stronger and well-built so that if ever an earthquake or typhoon strikes, it will be sturdy due to its good foundation. It is also crucial for a house to have good bracings and blockings so that it will be secure against quakes and strong winds”.

This was what 36-year-old Jemalin shared. Her family’s house was damaged by the magnitude 7.3 earthquake in Tayum, Abra in July last year.

Their house was made of semi-concrete materials with a poor foundation. So, when they felt the first tremors of the quake, she immediately grabbed her children and moved out of the house. The earthquake cracked their house’s walls and rendered it unsafe to live in.

The NDRRMC reported a total of 574,367 individuals or 155,911 families were affected by the earthquake. A total of 12,802 damaged houses were reported: 12,645 partially damaged and 157 fully damaged. And many of the affected stayed in open areas exposed to the monsoon rains, in evacuation centers, or with host families as their houses were not habitable or were in unsafe areas.

A makeshift shelter made from GI sheets replaced the damaged house of a family in Tayum, Abra after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. (Photo: MNorbe, CARE Philippines)

For Jemalin and her family, the greatest impact on their lives was the loss of income of her husband because construction works stopped for months and the main irrigation canal for their fields was destroyed so all rice fields were not planted for one cropping period. Much more, it was planting time during the occurrence of the earthquake, so all the preparation done was wasted.

She is a Barangay Health Worker (BHW) earning Php 700 in a month.  Aside from being a housekeeper, she raises pigs and do farm works to add to their family income. She is married to Mark, 42 years old, a farmer and laborer for construction works. They have three children ages 15, 13 and 9. They are studying in a nearby school, yet they have to spend daily for their fare.

When the team of CARE Philippines and its local partner, the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CORDIS RDS) arrived in their barangay through the REACH 3 project, she volunteered to join the team after a courtesy meeting with barangay officials. Together with other two barangay health worker, rain or shine they assisted the project team roam the barangay for damage assessment and interviews up to late afternoon. She was thankful that her house was also visited and interviewed. Her family was qualified as a beneficiary.  

During beneficiary meetings to prepare for the actual construction, she helped in mobilizing other beneficiaries to attend. Being a Barangay Health Worker, she was able to provide necessary information and shared the situations of the other families in her barangay. She got more inclined during the
discussions of the core shelter design and Build Back Safer Orientation. She studied the core shelter design and frequently asked questions on behalf of other beneficiaries who were timid to ask, she became the spokesperson of other beneficiaries.

During the implementation, Roving Shelter Teams (SRT) were organized to help the staff, especially in mobilization and ensuring that theBuild Back Safer (BBS) techniques are observed. She was chosen as a member of the SRT and she was glad to do her assignments and always visited the ongoing construction
works. She frequently argued with the carpenters who were not following the BBS techniques. She persistently provided updates and feedback to the project team especially the problems that needed to be addressed.  As a member of the SRT, she listened to the troubles of the beneficiaries concerning their

To be chosen as an SRT member, she earned the trust of other beneficiaries and gained knowledge on building a simple yet durable house that she would share with her family and other community members.   Through her efforts and the persistence of the SRT, 30 units of core shelter with BBS techniques were built in her barangay.

Being a core shelter beneficiary, her family is starting to regain courage and is more hopeful to recover and face the challenges of life. For now, she feels protected and happy that her family is together in their new house.

With support from EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid, the #REACH3 Project through provided Build Back Safer and Better Shelter training and support to build core shelters to families whose houses were totally damaged by the #AbraEarthquake.

This is part of the ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Mindanao and the Province of Abra Affected by Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ or REACH 3 Project implemented by ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services, Community Organizers Multiversity – CO Multiversity, IDEALS, Inc., Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro, Oxfam Pilipinas and United Youth of the Philippines-Women; and funded by the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid.

Cargill, CARE, partners lead the replanting of 100,000 coconuts in typhoon-affected Bohol

Cargill, CARE and local partners are taking bold steps in leading the coconut-planting community in Bohol to rehabilitate their typhoon-damaged farms, rebuild their livelihoods and ensure good future for their children.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (March 16, 2022) – With the goal to replant 100,000 coconut seedlings in Bohol, Cargill, CARE Philippines and local partners kick off the RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for Severely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by Super Typhoon Odette) project with a commemorative tree-planting ceremony in Brgy. Cabanugan, municipality of San Isidro.

Super typhoon Odette (Rai) felled more than 10 million coconut trees in the country and gravely affected the copra industry. San Isidro is one of the municipalities that suffered a devastating economic loss with 130,000 felled coconut trees. Most of these trees had produced copra for over 50 years, causing uncertainty to coconut farming families in the municipality.

“Sixty percent of my constituents are coconut farmers dependent on the coconut industry. This project has given them hope to persevere for their children who will benefit from the replanting of coconuts on their farms,” Mayor Diosdado Gementiza said.

100 coconut seedlings were carefully selected from the farmer-managed nursery in the barangay and were planted during the ceremony. These were part of over 20,000 coconut seed nuts and seedlings propagated and prepared for planting across 10 nurseries in partner farming communities in San Isidro, Calape, Catigbian and Loon municipalities. The remaining seed nuts will be consolidated in the coming months, with propagated seedlings to be planted at the coconut farms of partner farmers to reach the 100,000-tree mark by the end of the year.

The RISE Coco project focuses on rehabilitating 700 hectares of coconut farms by replacing the damaged coconut trees in farms managed by 1,000 farming households from the four municipalities in Bohol. This is being done through farmer-led propagation of seed nuts in community-based seedbeds and nurseries, farmer training on sustainable agriculture, provision of alternative livelihoods while waiting for the coconut trees to bear fruit, and establishment of farmer cooperatives for improved access to markets and corporate buyers.

At its core, Cargill is committed to building resilient agricultural communities and helping farmers thrive. RISE Coco underpins that commitment by creating connections that advance the productivity and profitability of Filipino farmers. As Cargill gears up to mark its 75th year of operations in the Philippines, it is more determined to accelerate its efforts to create more value for farmers and support a more sustainable local coconut industry.

Photo: Cargill’s Jonathan Sumpaico signs the tree guard post that protects the coconut he planted at the planting ceremony.

Jonathan Sumpaico, Cargill’s Copra and Palm Origination Commercial Director, added, “Cargill is committed to improving the livelihood of communities where we operate while meeting the increasing demand for sustainable coconut oil. We are proud to partner with CARE Philippines in the RISE Coco project to ensure coconut farmers who have been affected by the typhoon will rebuild their livelihoods, in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way, and continue to benefit as our partners for economic development.”

RISE Coco is a partnership project with CARE Philippines, with active participation from Cargill employees across all project areas. With the project, Cargill is creating sustainable value that is aligned with the national thrust to revitalize the coconut industry as outlined in the Philippine Coconut Industry Roadmap 2021-2040. It is implemented in collaboration with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), which has provided technical assistance through its Bohol Division Office to ensure alignment with PCA standards; and the Cebu-Bohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center (CRRC), which supports CARE in carrying out the project on the ground.

CARE Country Director David Gazashvili (3rd from left) with CARE and CRRC project implementation team

David Gazashvili, CARE’s Country Director shared that the financial and technical oversight of Cargill, the established partnership with CRRC, the working relationship with the PCA and the support of the local government units have paved the way for the upscaling of the project. 

 “We also commend the efforts of our partner communities who are now managing their nurseries, learning valuable good agriculture practices from trainings and applying these in the rehabilitation of their farms and livelihood and sustaining it for their children,” he added.

Photo: Bernie F. Cruz, PCA National Administrator, addresses the coconut farmers and other attendees at the planting ceremony.

Meanwhile, PCA National Administrator Bernie F. Cruz advised the coconut farmers to diversify their income from coconut by producing copra and other by-products such as charcoal, coco peat and coco coir from the husk, among others. He also recommended that farmers practice multi-cropping or inter-cropping. “Farmers would be able to augment their income by planting high-value crops or cash crops especially at times when copra prices are low,” he said.

The activity was attended by the local government officials, municipal agriculture officers, barangay officials from other communities, community leaders and men and women farmers.

CARE, partner NISA deliver learning materials to a conflict-affected elementary school in Basilan

Lorna, 51, carefully checks the foldable tables, chairs, writing, and printing supplies, visual materials, a sound system, printer, and a laptop delivered to Ulitan Elementary School, where she is the teacher-in-charge. Some of their pupils and their parents and guardians were in attendance and witnessed the turnover of these supplies, materials, and equipment needed to improve education delivery in their school.

“We are overwhelmed with the support. These will greatly assist us in our teaching and will surely motivate our pupils to continue learning despite what happened”, she shared.

The Ulitan Elementary School in Brgy Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan in the Basilan province, suffered a devastating loss when combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine military clashed in November last year forced the evacuation of more than 500 households in the community. After the fighting subsided, and it was deemed safe to return to the community, Lorna and her fellow teachers returned to find that multiple gunshots had damaged the school buildings. Desks, chairs, and tables were also turned over and ruined. Gunshots forcefully opened some doors.

Lorna remembered how she stood in her room, scanned the damages, and felt lost on what to do. One hundred fifty-eight (158 enrollees) relied on them to resume their education. Without the necessary supplies and materials, they had to ask for the support of the local government unit, organizations, and private individuals to provide them with desks, tables, and chairs to resume their classes after the school was deemed safe for the pupils to return to.

CARE, NISA staff hand over the learning supplies, materials and equipment to the school administration witnessed by pupils and their parents/guardians in the Ulitan Elementary School.

CARE and NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro, Inc. consulted with the school administration and the teachers and included their specific needs in the Basilan Emergency Response. On March 4, some of the educational supplies, materials, and equipment they requested were turned over to their school.

Janira, a 71-year-old grandmother, was one among the people who attended the event. She has 3 grandchildren who are learning in the said school. She shared that they were disheartened that they were not able to continue schooling when they fled and stayed at the evacuation center for more than 20 days before they were able to return home.

“I’m glad that they will now have enough chairs and tables so that they can properly write their lessons”, she said. The pupils used to huddle and share the few desks they had in the school.

Pupils raise their hand when asked who were glad that their school have necessary learning materials and equipment to use in their education.

The Basilan Emergency Response is supported by the Tijori Foundation and is being implemented by CARE Philippines and its partner, NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro, Inc., in collaboration with the BARMM Ministry of Social Services and Development and Development, GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Conflict-affected community in Basilan receives aid thru CARE, partners

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Blog, Disaster Response, Featured Stories, Press Release

CARE Philippines Emergency Coordinator, Jerome Lanit hands over food items to a woman head of a household that was affected by the armed clashes in Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan. (J. Dulla/CARE Philippines)

Five hundred eighty (580) households that were affected by the series of armed clashes in Brgy. Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan received essential food, non-food items, and shelter kits on February 4 and 5.

Members of these households were forced to leave their homes when combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine military clashed in November last year. When the conflict subsided, they returned only to find that some of their houses, including the mosque, madrasah, and an essential government building, were damaged from the fighting.

Some of the members of 120 households whose houses were damaged due to the fighting received shelter repair kits. (J. Dulla/CARE Philippines)

CARE and its partner, NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro (Women for Justice in the Bangsamoro), Inc., with the facilitation of the GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and with the support of the BARMM Ministry of Social Services and Development were able to access the community to deliver life-saving assistance to the affected vulnerable households.

“As humanitarians, it is important that we address first the needs of the members of vulnerable communities who still feel insecure because of the uncertainty of the situation while the peace mechanisms are working for a sustained solution to the conflict,” said Jerome Lanit, CARE’s Emergency Coordinator.

Meanwhile, Shalom Tillah Allian of NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro, Inc. shared that the collaboration with the BARMM MSSD, MILF CCCH and AHJAG showed that humanitarian and peace building efforts work meaningfully when working together on an equal footing.

“More than just the goods shared to them, to us what is more powerful is to see the mujahideens and the mujahidat owning the initiative as they led the distribution. We cannot overemphasize the importance of cultivating solidarity with the peace process mechanisms afforded to us”, she added.

Photos: Members of the community helped in the repacking and distribution of the relief goods to the affected households. (J. Dulla, S. Allian)

The Basilan Emergency Response is supported by the Tijori Foundation and is being implemented by CARE Philippines and its partner, NISA Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro, Inc., in collaboration with the BARMM Ministry of Social Services and Development, GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Showcasing Disaster Risk Financing — British Embassy Reps Visit Start DRF Area in Taft, Eastern Samar

  • CARE Philippines
  • Blog, Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Press Release

Community members together with barangay local government officials, Taft Municipal Mayor Gina Alzate-Ty and Vice Mayor Maria Concepcion Adalim-Hilario, Political Counsellor Iain Cox of the British Embassy Manila and representatives of LCDE, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD in a group photo with the BBS model house after conducting an FGD. (Photo: L.Fuentes/CARE Philippines)

by Leigh Ginette Fuentes

In the Philippines, it was identified that hydrometeorological hazards are the most underfunded disaster events that the country faces, based on a study by the UP Resilience Institute. Consequently, in a survey conducted by Start Network among its members, it was identified that the major hazard in the country was tropical cyclones followed thirdly by flooding. The country has seen the onslaught of several strong, destructive typhoons in recent years, including Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013 and Typhoon Goni (Rolly) in 2020. Due to the effects of climate change, hazards such as these could intensify and become more frequent, posing a threat to local populations, their lives, property, and livelihoods.

Disaster Risk Financing (DRF) is a program of Start Network that allows members to create their own DRF Systems – a structured way to model and plan for risks. The Start Philippines Disaster Risk Finance system is majorly governed and implemented by Start Network members in-country, together with local NGO partners and scientific experts. The locally led consortium acknowledges the needs of local communities and comes up with data-driven actions to mitigate the impact of disasters and prevent the loss of lives and properties.

Last February 5, Political Counsellor Iain Cox and other key representatives of the British Embassy Manila visited Barangay Nato in Taft, Eastern Samar to learn more about Start DRF and the impact the programming implemented by the Eastern Samar DRF consortium, composed of CARE Philippines, the Leyte Center for Development, Inc. (LCDE), and Assistance and Cooperation for Community Resilience and Development, Inc. (ACCORD, Inc.) on community members, particularly of those vulnerable to the adverse effects of typhoons. These also included members of the barangay local government units from Can-Avid, Eastern Samar which is also a programmatic area.

An introduction to the Alternative Temporary Shelter (ATS) System was followed by an orientation on Build Back Safer (BBS) practices through visual aids and a model house, the same used in an orientation earlier that day with community members from Taft and Can-Avid. Community members and implementing organizations then engaged in a focus group discussion to learn more and delve into the experiences of community members in relation to typhoons, the recent continuous flooding, and the gaps they still see in the community’s ability to prepare for and respond to different disasters.

Among the participants was Lita Fe, 42, who is also member of the Women Collective in Barangay Nato, Taft, Eastern Samar. “Because of the skills and learnings from the capacity building sessions, we are now equipped to do pre-emptive evacuations during emergencies,” shared Lita Fe during a focus group discussion with Barangay representatives, members of the Shelter Roving Team, and other members of the Women’s Collective.

“Women have an important role during emergencies,” she adds, “and the skills we gained allow us to act even before a calamity hits the community.”

To learn more about the Start Network Disaster Risk Financing, please visit https://startnetwork.org/funds/disaster-risk-financing-support .

Farming, sewing, and saving

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Blog, Featured Stories, Gender, Latest News & Stories

Dark clouds hovered when Lolita, 53, arrived at her house on a gloomy December morning. She had just finished her daily trek of the muddy trail to and from their vegetable farm in Brgy. Malabanan, Balete, Batangas. It had been raining for a few days, so she and her son, who works with her on the farm, constantly checked how their crops were faring with the weather. They learned to be meticulous in monitoring their crops, especially the vegetables, because of their experience with the Mt. Taal volcanic ash eruption earlier that year.

The string beans they planted were already in their first month of growth when it happened. The leaves turned yellow and were laden with small holes.

“We immediately applied fertilizer to help the crops withstand the effects. It did help them from withering and grew to produce string beans that were shorter and thinner”, shared Lolita. Their few kilos of harvest only paid for a part of the expenses they made for that cropping.

Lolita has been farming for the past thirty years. She shared that the challenges have become more difficult in recent years. The biggest hurdle was the unpredictable weather which greatly affected their planting schedule and their crops’ resilience to the intense heat in the dry season and the heavy rains in the wet season. Added to this was how traders controlled the market: which crops to produce and the price of these crops.

These are the seeds of pigeon peas locally known as kadyos which Lolita stored for planting. | Photo: M. Norbe/CARE

“We used to plant different varieties of vegetables. We had no choice but to stick to only those the market demands”, shared Lolita.

With most farmers doing the same, the supply increases every harvest. This leads to a decrease in the buying price for their crops.

When she attended one of the sustainable agriculture trainings organized by CARE and the Southern Tagalog People’s Response Center – STPRC, Inc., she learned that food producers like her should be innovative in navigating the tricky waters of the market and ensuring that their farm production will be sustained for future generations.

Her son, Reymark, 27, is already working on their farm, and Lolita wanted him and his family to continue reaping the benefits of farming. These training were part of the aGAP (Asenso sa Good Agriculture Package), a project supported by the Metrobank Foundation that assists marginalized farming households whose livelihoods have been doubly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the intermittent Taal Volcano eruptions since January 2020.

After the training, she decided to integrate natural ways of farming by making oriental herbal nutrients (OHN), fish amino acids (FAA) and fermented plant juice (FPJ) and applying these as fertilizers and enhancers to their crops. Her first harvest after this was a success. The string beans yielded more than their usual harvest. The fruits were also longer and firmer. She also noticed that the soil turned darker, and the flowering vegetables kept blooming and bearing fruits every week.

Lolita (left) and another farmer participant peeled garlic to make oriental herbal nutrients (OHN) used to boost plant growth. | Photo: STPRC

She also decreased their production of ampalaya (bitter gourd), which sells at a high price but requires intense labor and is very sensitive to changes in weather and soil conditions and recurrent volcanic ash eruptions. Instead, she focused their vegetable production on crops that were easy to grow and required less amount of capital. She continued storing seeds that were open-pollinated varieties like string beans, okra, pigeon pea and winged beans, so she didn’t need to buy these from traders.

“We are near Taal, and we had to find ways like these to survive the effects of its eruption on our crops and livelihood,” she said.

Hence, Lolita also doesn’t depend on farming as her family’s sole source of income. After doing her farm chores, she sewed school uniforms that retailers of ready-to-wear clothes would buy from her for 130 pesos (2.6 USD) per dozen. She usually finishes two dozen per day. She also works on other farms as a weeder and harvester.

Above photo: Lolita spends most of her time in her porch where she sews school uniforms after her tending to their vegetable farm. |
M. Norbe/CARE

Right photo: Part of income from selling this fresh harvest of string beans will be put in the tin savings bank. | STPRC

“It felt so good to have some cash to use in times of difficulty. I didn’t have to borrow from anyone”, she added.

This story is part of the aGAP (Asenso sa Good Agriculture Package) sa Batangas implemented by CARE and its partner, Southern Tagalog People’s Response Center – STPRC, Inc. in three barangays in the Municipality of Balete in Batangas province. The Metrobank Foundation supports this project.

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