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Balay (House)

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

A Girl’s Story of Loss and Hope

After Typhoon Odette brought her family’s house down, Precious, her parents and siblings are now enjoying the warmth and comfort of their house that was built to resist natural hazards such as storms, typhoons, floods, and earthquakes.

Watch her story here: BalayniPrecious

Precious’ parents Barney and Eunice shared that in the past two months, their new house withstood the heavy rain and strong winds that the rainy season brought in. Their CGI roofing was nailed and braced securely and was able to hold out against the wind. Their marine plywood walls were also braced for the wind and its material protected them from the rain.

Since #TyphoonOdette flew their roof off and took their bamboo walls down, Eunice said that they have never felt safe and secure until they moved into their new house.

“It rained heavily last night but we were confident that we would be safe because of how sturdy our house is”, she added.

The family was sheltered in the latter’s mother’s house after the typhoon until CARE and National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) came to their barangay to support affected families in their efforts to repair or rebuild their houses.

Through the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines, they were able to access shelter repair kits. The barangay also recommended their family be assisted in repairing their house through mutual help or the bayanihan system. Volunteer carpenters and other members of the community helped in the repair.

This is usually done when some members of the community such as the elderly, the sick, and persons with disabilities are not able to repair or rebuild their houses on their own. Barney said that his epilepsy prevented him from doing the construction, hence, he was thankful that his community helped his family.

He and his wife are presently managing a small sari-sari store and internet vending business in their house. They will also be supported by the response through livelihood enhancement training and addition to capital.

This response is being implemented by a consortium of partners including CARE, PKKK, ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, and Plan International Philippines with support from the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid.

DILG-LGA, EU-funded MOVE UP Project conduct dialogue with local DRRMOS for disaster preparedness policies recalibration

Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers (LDRRMOs) and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation practitioners shared their experiences at the frontline during emergencies such as typhoons and tropical storms.

September 30, 2022 – The European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid-funded Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP) Project and the Department of the Interior and Local Government Local Government Academy (DILG-LGA) successfully conducted a dialogue with around 80 Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers (LDRRMOs) and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCAM) practitioners today in Hive Hotel and Convention Place, Quezon City.

The event is the final installment of the three-leg dialogue and consultation with local DRRMOs in the Philippines, which aimed to gather experiences in the recent occurrence of typhoons and tropical storms. Gathered information will be used to assess their capacity-building needs and recalibrate national policies in disaster preparedness.

The first two legs were participated by around 200 LDRRMOs and CCAM practitioners from Mindanao, NCR, and Visayas clusters and were held in May and June, respectively.

“The crucial work of building resilience rests heavily on local governments. Because it is at their level that policies are implemented, it is only apt that we draw from their rich experience in improving our programs and policies,” said John Kien Develos, Head of  LGA’s Disaster Risk Reduction  Management and Climate Resilience Section.

The event was held in connection with the training and orientation on the newly developed Disaster Preparedness Manual for Localized Weather Disturbances and was participated by DILG Regional Offices’ DRR-CCA Focal Persons (and Alternate), representatives from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Local Resource Institute (LRI), and Provincial / City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers (P/CDRRMOs).

“The MOVE UP Project & LGA are currently working together to revisit the Disaster Preparedness Manual for Typhoon. Since its last update in 2018, several hydrometeorological hazards have severely affected the Philippines. MOVE UP Project’s role in this dialogue is then crucial in ensuring that the updating process is informed by the direct experience of our local actors,” Develos added.

The DILG-LGA and the MOVE UP project have been partners since 2021 and have been working hand-in-hand in the conduct of capacity development interventions to local chief executives and other relevant stakeholders involved in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) activities.

“With our partnership with DILG-LGA, MOVE UP project is committed to support the national government in reducing the impact of disasters through strengthening capacities of our local government units who are at the forefront of our disaster risk management interventions,” said Alvin Dumduma, MOVE UP project’s consortium manager.

With support from the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, the MOVE UP project is expected to help more than 90,000 individuals through its urban resilience strategies, anticipatory action, and rapid response interventions in selected cities in Mindanao. The project is implemented by a consortium of international non-government organizations lead by Action Against Hunger Philippines, with Plan International Philippines, and CARE Philippines, and its local partners ACCORD and Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro. ###

****
About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid:

The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.

***

Media contact:
Claudine Complativo
Communications and Advocacy Specialist
MOVE UP Project

Email: Claudine.Complativo@plan-international.org
+639 06 589 8180

Communal gardens sprout up months after #OdettePH

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Featured Stories, Food & Nutrition, Latest News & Stories

Riza, 35, shows the vegetable seedlings that she and members of their group propagate in their nursery in Barangay Mahayahay, San Jose, Dinagat Island Province. Meanwhile, her 73-year-old mother, Matilde waters the plants in their communal garden where okra, string beans, peppers, squash, sweet potato, water spinach, and other vegetables are growing.

“We already harvested three times since we started the garden. It really helps especially at times when we don’t have enough money to buy food”, Riza shared.

She also said that they are growing their food using organic compost and fertilizers such as fermented fruit and plant juice which materials are sourced in their community.

Their members were trained in sustainable organic farming after Typhoon Rai (Odette) ruined their crops and stripped the garden soil barren.

Through the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette), men and women members of their communities were organized and formed into mutual groups for reviving the former and engaging in alternative livelihoods.

Aside from their association’s dry goods stores, they decided to put up communal nurseries and gardens to ensure that food will always be on their table.

“After the typhoon, it was very difficult to find food. Now, when we harvest beans, we can store them both for seeds and food”, she added.

The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is implemented jointly by CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International Philippines in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, Philippines.

RISE Coco project to rehabilitate 700 hectares of 1,000 typhoon-affected coconut farmers in Bohol

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Press Release

Highlight of the activity is the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together towards the successful implementation of the project. From left: Mr. Gerardo F. Cuadrasal, Jr. , Municipal Administrator of Calape, Bohol representing  Hon. Mayor Julius Caesar F. Herrera; Hon. Mayor Diosdado Gementiza, Jr. of San Isidro, Bohol; Christopher Matthew Ilagan of Cargill; David Gazashvili of CARE Philippines and Mr. Brendan P. Trasmonte, Regional Manager III for Region VII, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)

Manila, Philippines (September 26,  2022) — Nine months since Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) felled over three million coconut trees in the province of Bohol, Cargill Philippines partners with CARE Philippines, Cebu-Bohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center (CRRC), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to replant 100,000 coconut seedlings in devastated local communities through the RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for Severely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by Super Typhoon Odette) project. More than 10 million coconut trees were damaged in several areas nationwide and gravely affected farming families whose livelihood was dependent on producing copra.

farming families whose livelihood was dependent on producing copra.

The Bohol provincial PCA already pledged to initially replace felled trees with 500,000 dwarf variety seedlings in February. This variety takes three to four years to bear fruit compared to the hybrid variety which takes five years to yield. However, with no other means to provide for their families, farmers are already finding it difficult to bounce back while waiting for harvest. The available coconut seedlings were very limited and were allocated to only a few municipalities. To bridge this gap, coconut farmers supported by this project decided to establish their own community-based seed beds to propagate coconut seedlings for re-planting.

Through the RISE Coco Project, 1,000 coconut farming households in the municipalities of Calape, Catigbian, Loon, and San Isidro will be able to gradually recover and sustain their coconut farming livelihoods. The project focuses on replacing the damaged coconut trees, training the farmers on sustainable agriculture, providing alternative livelihoods while waiting for the coconut trees to bear fruit, and organizing the farmers into cooperatives to have better access to markets and corporate buyers.

The project was officially launched on September 15, 2022, at the Calape Forest Resort and was attended by almost 100 participants from the local government offices, PCA officials, Cargill, CARE, CRRC and farmer leaders in the province. As the first coconut disaster rehabilitation program in the province spearheaded by the private sector, the project is strongly supported by the provincial government of Bohol and the municipal mayors of the four covered municipalities. PCA, including its regional and provincial offices, also expressed commitment to provide technical assistance during the project implementation.

PCA Region 7 Manager Brendan Trasmonte acknowledged the critical and challenging role that the PCA will play in the success of the project as it needs quality seed nuts and seedlings and the technical knowledge of coconut farmers to sustain and expand their sources of income beyond coconut farming.   

This project partnership is anchored on a global agreement between Cargill and CARE International to work together to implement programs that would rehabilitate livelihoods impacted by disasters, support recovery and promote food security of affected farming communities.

“It’s our way of supporting the rehabilitation of the livelihoods of the coconut farmers of Bohol severely impacted by the climate-induced Supertyphoon Odette – the same coconut farmers who have been our reliable suppliers of copra over the years which we in turn crush at our General Santos City plant into world-class crude coconut oil,” said Cargill Philippines’ Corporate Affairs Director Christopher Matthew Ilagan.

Cargill’s Copra & Palm Origination Commercial Director, Jonathan Sumpaico added, “Cargill is committed to grow with the communities where we live and work.   The RISE Coco program, as part of our broader partnership with CARE Philippines, allows us to put that commitment into action by ensuring the farmers affected by the Supertyphoon produce sustainably grown copra and continue to benefit from responsible economic development as our partners.”

Meanwhile, CARE Philippines Country Director David Gazashvili sees the project as a way to develop the resiliency of coconut farming communities against the drastic effects of climate change.

“Farmers will be trained to increase their capacities to better prepare for disasters alongside local government structures. This implies ensuring the availability of food for their family and community and ability to cope and bounce back through other sources of income and immediate government support”, he said.

The RISE Coco project is led by CARE Philippines and is being implemented with CRRC with active participation from Cargill employees across all project areas.

Symbolic turnover of coconut seedlings to the farmer leaders of the coconut farming communities in the selected project sites.

# # #

About Cargill

Cargill helps the world’s food system work for you. We connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients and families with daily essentials – from the foods they eat to the floors they walk on. Our team around the world innovates with purpose, empowering our partners and communities as we work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible, sustainable way. This includes 2,000 colleagues across 27 locations in the Philippines, where we’ve been working since 1948 to make our global vision a local reality. Visit https://www.cargill.ph/en/home to know more.

From feed that reduces methane emissions to waste-based renewable fuels, the possibilities are boundless. But our values remain the same. We put people first. We reach higher. We do the right thing. It’s how Cargill has met the needs of the people we call neighbors and the planet we call home for 157 years – and how we’ll do so for generations to come. For more information, visit Cargill.com and our News Center.

About CARE
Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls. Equipped with the proper resources women and girls have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. In 2020, CARE worked in over 100 countries, reaching more than 90 million people through 1,300 projects. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

South Sudan continues to be one of the deadliest places to be an aid worker

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

South Sudan continues to be one of the deadliest places to be an aid worker, according to
analysis done by CARE International on data from the Humanitarian Outcomes Aid Worker
Security Database. Forty-four aid workers have lost their lives globally since the beginning of
this year, including 11 in South Sudan, 8 in Afghanistan and 7 in Myanmar. Not only are
these three countries among the most dangerous places for aid workers, they are also
incredibly challenging places for citizens, with nearly 40 million people facing hunger across
these countries.


Abel Whande, CARE South Sudan Country Director, said, “South Sudan is facing its worst
hunger crisis since it gained independence 11 years ago. That the very people committed to
easing suffering and supporting the most vulnerable continue to be killed, is horrifying.
Failing to ensure the safety of humanitarians means disruptions to vital aid operations, and
with 7.74 million people in South Sudan facing acute hunger, these disruptions could mean
the difference between life and death for some. And this year, the knock-on effects of the
Ukraine crisis are exacerbating the situation, with sharp increases in the cost of food and
fuel causing more pain and suffering.”


The single deadliest day for aid workers in 2022 so far occurred in Afghanistan, when eight
polio vaccinators were killed while conducting home visits on 24 February. Polio vaccinators
have frequently been targeted in Afghanistan, one of only two countries where wild
poliovirus is endemic – the other country being Pakistan.


CARE Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Advocacy Advisor, Mélissa Cornet, said, “It’s devastating
that eight aid workers have died in Afghanistan this year. They were doing incredibly
important work in a country that is in the midst of a complex humanitarian crisis – nearly 19
million people face acute hunger, the economy has all but collapsed, affected communities
are still reeling from last month’s deadly earthquake and the price of food and everyday
essentials has skyrocketed over the past year. Women and girls are often disproportionately
affected in times of crisis and this crisis is no exception. We continue to hear reports of girls
being married at a young age just to help the family survive. It’s essential that aid workers –
including women humanitarian workers who are so critical to reaching women and girls –
are protected, so they can continue carrying out lifesaving work.”


So far in Myanmar in 2022, seven humanitarian workers have died. “One million people are
now displaced in Myanmar and over 13 million people in the country face hunger. It is
crucial that aid workers are protected, and humanitarian organisations have unimpeded
access to affected communities to carry out vital work,” said Nate Rabe, Country Director
for CARE International in Myanmar.


Three aid workers have died in attacks in Ukraine this year – the first aid worker deaths in
the country since 2014. “The security situation for aid workers has deteriorated sharply
since the escalation in conflict in February this year. With a third of Ukrainians displaced
from their homes and millions still inside the country, it’s more important than ever that the
safety of humanitarian workers is preserved so they can carry out critical work,” said
Richard Simpson, CARE Country Representative Ukraine.


“While the situation is incredibly difficult and precarious for so many in Ukraine, tragically,
we are witnessing several donor governments re-directing overseas development
assistance, especially to respond to the crisis in their own countries, which indirectly
impacts funding for other humanitarian crises. As a result, humanitarian appeals of
countries experiencing the worst hunger and famine-conditions, including Somalia, Mali,
Niger, Afghanistan and South Sudan, are drastically under-funded,” said Delphine Pinault,
Humanitarian Policy Advocacy Coordinator & UN Representative for CARE International.
This year’s World Humanitarian Day theme #ItTakesAVillage is inspired by the saying ‘It
takes a village to raise a child.’ Similarly, it takes a village to support a person in a
humanitarian crisis – aid agencies, local volunteers and emergency services come together
to provide urgent health care, shelter, food, protection, water, livelihoods and much more.
Ms Pinault said, “And with the world facing an unprecedented hunger crisis, the
international donor community plays a crucial role in ensuring funding decisions are strictly
needs-based and not politically driven.”


Notes to the editor
Analysis is based on the Humanitarian Outcomes’ Aid Worker Security database
where incidents are defined as deliberate acts of violence affecting aid workers, such
as killings, kidnappings, and attacks that result in serious
injury: https://aidworkersecurity.org/incidents/. Numbers in the database for 2022
are provisional for the first six months of the year, with full official annual figures
released at the end of calendar years. 2022 figures are available here:
https://aidworkersecurity.org/


There have been 73 major attacks on aid workers so far in 2022 with 44 deaths this
year (numbers accurate as of 1 August). The majority of deaths, 95%, involved
national staff (42 out of 44 deaths were national staff. The two international staff
were killed in South Sudan and Mali). South Sudan tops the fatalities list so far in
2022 with 11 deaths.


Funding of humanitarian response plans https://hum-insight.info/
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation
fighting global poverty. CARE has more than seven decades of experience
helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a
crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed.
CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often
disproportionately affected by disasters.

To learn more, visit www.care-international.org
For media enquiries contact:
Suzy Sainovski
Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator, CARE International

Humanitarian organizations to launch Typhoon Odette photo exhibit in Siargao, highlight need of survivors

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Blog, Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Press Release

Humanitarian organizations will be launching a photo exhibit in Siargao next week to raise awareness about the impact of Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) and the concerted efforts of residents and various groups in rebuilding the affected communities.

The photo exhibition dubbed “The Last Mile,” which will open on August 15, 6 p.m. at the Siago Beach Resort in General Luna, Siargao Island, just a few days before the commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day (August 19).

The event is organized by non-government organizations and local government units working on the Typhoon Odette Response. The aim of the event is to urge the national government and other stakeholders to not forget those most vulnerable in times of disaster.

It will feature almost a hundred images captured by organizations who implemented the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EU-ECHO)-supported emergency response for the survivors of Typhoon Odette: ACCORD, Action Against Hunger, Care Philippines, Humanity & Inclusion, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc., National Rural Women’s Coalition, Oxfam Pilipinas, Plan International, Save the Children Philippines, and Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya (SIKAT) Inc.

European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron will be giving a message at the opening event of the exhibit, followed by presentations by the participating organizations.

“We want to showcase these powerful images to show just how devastating typhoons are to marginalized and remote communities in the Philippines. We also want to show what we can do together to save lives and reduce the risks and impacts of disasters,” said Oxfam Pilipinas Country Director Lot Felizco.

“With climate change, we expect more intense typhoons to hit the Philippines. We hope the exhibit will also give people hope that something can be done and is being done to strengthen our communities against future disasters and to help them recover from Typhoon Odette,” she added.

CARE Philippines Country Director David Gazashvili said the exhibit will also show the achievements and challenges that residents and humanitarian organizations face eight months after the devastation of Typhoon Odette.

“The exhibit shows how the quick and substantial funding from the EU-ECHO, the power of communities, women and men, boys and girls working together and collaborating with humanitarian actors have effectively addressed urgent humanitarian needs, especially of those who need the most assistance. But it also brings to the surface the challenges of prioritizing disaster-preparedness, risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he added.

EU-ECHO’s funding of the Typhoon Odette emergency response has enabled the provision  of emergency services to almost half a million individuals in Bohol, Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental, Palawan, and Surigao del Norte through the implementation of two consortia: one led by CARE, with ACCORD Inc., National Rural Women’s Coalition, Plan International, and Action Against Hunger; and another led by  Oxfam Pilipinas and jointly implemented by Save the Children and Humanity & Inclusion (HI), together with local partners SIKAT Inc. and IDEALS Inc.

The joint efforts of the groups resulted in the distribution of food and livelihood assistance to 70,643 individuals; water, sanitation and hygiene packs for 75,394; protection assistance for 147,549; shelter provision for 72,902; health services for 68,317; and “education in emergency” assistance for 41,205.

Besides attending the photo exhibit, the EU ambassador will also be visiting Pilar in Siargao Island to observe EU-ECHO-funded activities such as the “Education in Emergency” component of the project in Caridad Elementary School. As part of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response, the school’s teachers received training, supplies and a multi-purpose learning space where “return to learning” sessions are being held. The consortium also assisted in the construction of the multi-learning space and the repair of the damaged classrooms, which will also be turned over next week

For the coming months, the groups will continue to provide the same support for the most affected communities in Bohol, Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental, Palawan, and Surigao del Norte.

###

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES AND COORDINATION:

Kristine Sabillo Guerrero | Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing, Oxfam Pilipinas

Email: kGuerrero@oxfam.org.uk | Mobile: 09175691449

150 million more women than men were hungry in 2021 – CARE analysis finds

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

An analysis by humanitarian organisation CARE highlights, for the first time, a global link between gender inequality and food insecurity. Analysing data from 2021, the report shows that across 109 countries, as gender inequality goes up, food security goes down.

Christine Campeau, CARE’s Global Advocacy Director – Food Systems, said, “Between 2018 and 2021, the number of hungry women versus hungry men grew 8.4 times, with a staggering 150 million more women than men hungry in 2021. And the implications of the escalation of conflict in Ukraine will make the situation even worse for women, who play a crucial role across food systems and in feeding their families and communities. Gender equality is highly connected to food and nutrition security at a local, national, and global level. To put it simply, the more gender inequality there is in a country, the hungrier and more malnourished people are.”

Of the four major global datasets on gender, including the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal, the only sex disaggregated food indicators reinforce women’s role solely for their importance in reproduction: measuring anemia in women of childbearing age and counting stunting for children.
Most food security datasets are strangely silent on gender. And, despite women being responsible for 90% of preparing and buying food, they are eating last and least.

Even when both men and women are technically food insecure, women often bear bigger burdens. For example, in Somalia, while men report eating smaller meals, women report skipping meals altogether.

Aisha, who lives in a village in eastern Somalia said, “I don’t remember how old I really am, the drought has affected me mentally and physically so much that I can’t remember. Most days we don’t get anything to eat, other days we eat one meal.”

In the World Bank Gender Data Portal on food and women, the only sex disaggregated food data is related to the number of women who believe, or do not believe, that a husband is justified in beating his wife when she burns the food.

Ms Campeau said, “As women keep feeding the world, we must give them the right space in our data collection methods and analysis to make the gaps they encounter visible and work with women themselves to find solutions to those gaps. Global datasets should be publishing sex disaggregated data on food—whether the focus is on gender or on food. It is time to update our global understanding of food security and gender inequality, and, local actors, including women’s organisations in crisis-affected communities, need to get the flexible funding and support desperately needed to protect women and girls from hunger-associated gender-based-violence and protection risks.”

About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty. CARE has more than seven decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care-international.org  

For media enquiries contact:

Suzy Sainovski
Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator, CARE International
Email: suzy.sainovski@care.org
Skype: suzy.sainovski

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

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

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 promotes leadership development for project sustainability

When lockdown measures were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even development projects were halted. Community-based trainings and workshops implemented by actors from outside the barangays were not allowed as they could be carriers of the virus. Local leaders play a critical role in a time when external support is limited and when the community’s safety is prioritized.

CARE local partner organization, ACCORD, Inc., ensures that potential leaders are recognized and gradually help them develop their capacities, self-confidence, and credibility. ACCORD shared, “Organizing and building capacities of local champions, community facilitators, and project steering committees at the barangay level was done as part of the project’s adaptive and sustainability measures. When staff’s mobility was restricted, valuable assistance was provided by the community champions – not only in the implementation of emergency responses on the ground, but also in setting up regular project activities with our field teams. The project intends to engage and work with the same champions throughout the project, whose capacities for local leadership will remain, even after project closure.”

Among these local leaders is Josefina, 65, who serves as a Barangay Health Worker in Cullit, Gattaran in the province of Cagayan. Her daily duties include monitoring the health of children and elderly persons in their community. Since resources are scarce, she also helps out in medicine allocation, prioritizing the old and the sick. Now that there is a pandemic, she also helped out in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the government, ensuring that the most vulnerable are included in the list. Josefina said that what she does in her barangay brings her happiness because she was able to provide help to her fellow senior citizens, especially now that the pandemic made serving her community more challenging. She recalled that her worst experience of a calamity was in 2012. She shared, “our community and livestock had to be evacuated in higher grounds, and whatever was left behind were covered in thick mud after being submerged in the flood. Our family and neighbors had to clean the waist-deep mud in our houses, and had to sleep on the streets for about three weeks.” Because of this, she recognizes the importance of disaster preparedness, “the INCREASE project helped our community in planning and preparing for hazards and disasters.”

To also continue actively involving the communities despite the restrictions, INCREASE also responded to COVID-19. The timing of the pandemic coincided with lean season when farmers had to engage in alternative income generating activities such as buying and selling vegetables. With lockdowns and restrictions in accessing goods, such activities are not allowed.  For Josefina, “the rice packs helped my community, especially those whose livelihoods were affected because of the travel restrictions and lockdown. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 information materials remind my community to follow health protocols and what to do to protect themselves from the virus.”

Involvement of local actors also includes inviting them in knowledge exchange sessions which are relevant in their current context. Made possible through the Resilience and Innovation Learning Hub (RILHUB), INCREASE partner LGU in Cagayan was able to attend relevant webinars on resilience and DRR – covering topics such as Contingency Planning during COVID-19, Setting Up Community Quarantine Facilities, and Camp Coordination and Camp Management Training. Such information exchange sessions were seen timely by local actors as these webinars coincided with their preparation timelines for updating municipal disaster risk reduction plans, comprehensive development plans, comprehensive land use plans, and local climate change action plans – undertakings defined as actual project outputs in INCREASE’s result framework, and areas in disaster governance INCREASE’s technical assistance seeks to enhance. 

While activity implementation under INCREASE remains restricted, it is through these emergency responses and knowledge exchange sessions that ACCORD was able to check-in, and assess the evolving needs of INCREASE barangays in actual emergencies. Local leaders were also more involved in the project and appreciates its flexibility in delivering the appropriate emergency response given the urgent situation.

How local organizations adapted to COVID-19 in their operations

Cordillera Disaster Response & Development Services Inc (CorDisRDS Inc.) is a non-government organization providing disaster response and community development services to the communities of Cordillera Provinces: Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet, and Baguio City. Their main activities include facilitating assistance to disaster-affected communities and helping in the distribution of relief assistance, giving training and seminars to capacitate community and people’s organization leaders and their members.

Support given by CARE:

CorDis-RDS is the local partner of CARE Philippines in implementing INCREASE project in Mountain Province. INCREASE or Increasing the Resilience to Natural Hazards 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.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CARE Philippines and CorDis-RDS, has provided personal protective equipment to municipal local government units (MLGUs) and sacks of rice as a relief to communities in Barlig and Natonin, Mountain Province. 

COVID-19 information materials were also distributed in the areas to promote preventive measures against the coronavirus

The Problem

What has been your experience since the COVID-19 pandemic started?

The CorDis-RDS team has experienced challenges in reaching the communities because of travel restrictions. Before community quarantine was implemented, the team would spend 2 weeks in INCREASE areas where they would visit 4 barangays in two municipalities. But because of the pandemic, they had to cut their field work short to one and a half week covering three barangays. Since then, they were not able to go back to these communities.

According to Liza Lomong-ey, CorDis-RDS Field Officer, “Since the declaration of enhanced community quarantine in March 2020, it has been so stressful because the team was not able to personally reach partner communities and local government units (LGUs) in this trying time and we have not implemented activities for almost 6 months and are confined within our homes and office due to the safety protocols being implemented.”

How have you adapted operations to reach your beneficiaries?

The pandemic has heightened the importance of network-building, especially on the ground, in implementing emergency response and development projects. While faced with travel restrictions, the team has worked on strengthening their relationship with people’s organizations and LGUs so they can understand the evolving needs of the communities.

Liza mentioned, “Communication between INCREASE team and partner LGUs was sustained through constant updating and coordination via phone calls and text messages. From constant updating with MLGUs and partner BLGUs, COVID responses in Natonin and Barlig namely the provision of PPES and rice assistance were implemented. This was made possible through building partnerships with LGUs and their willingness to implement such.”

It is also important to keep the response strategy adaptive to the changing situations in the communities. For example, Barlig and Natonin are in the same province but follow different process in implementing relief distribution.

Liza shared, “The distribution of PPEs and sacks of rice were implemented by the municipal disaster risk reduction officer. Particular for the PPEs in Barlig and Natonin, it was channeled to the PDRRM office which was later fetched personally by Barlig MDRRM officer together with the PPEs for Natonin. Likewise, the rice distribution in the municipality was implemented under the supervision of Barlig Mayor’s office and MDRRM officer. In Natonin, the distribution was implemented directly by partner BLGUs.”  

COVID-19 response was delivered with the help of barangay leaders

Since face-to-face interaction was not possible for CorDis-RDS team, they have supplemented the efforts of the LGUs with localized communication materials. This way, the communities would have reference materials for long term preventive measures as a community against COVID-19.

“We were also able to reach our partners through sending a localized IEC material on reminders for COVID 19 to 6 communities in Natonin and a minimal copy of COVID flyers (long term measures) to selected LGUs in the municipality,” said Liza. 

What has been the ‘word on the ground’?

Community lockdowns were implemented by the government, limiting people’s movement and livelihood options. This has negatively affected their income as several businesses have closed either temporarily or permanently. A lot of people have lost their jobs, while farmers couldn’t reach market places to sell their produce because of the travel ban.

Liza said, “INCREASE areas in Mountain Province are affected by this COVID pandemic in terms of economic aspect. Their livelihood is affected due to protocols on public transportation and transport of goods.”

How do you think the typhoon season is going to affect operations?

Operating in disaster-prone areas, CorDis-RDS team is used to shifting to emergency response whenever it is needed. However, this means that the regular activities being implemented for INCREASE project will have to be re-strategized so it can be pushed through in an efficient manner.

Liza shared her worries about the typhoon season, “The implementation of planned activities in two partner municipalities will surely be affected this last quarter of the year if there will be typhoons that will hit Northern Luzon. Some planned activities will not be implemented, the main reason is accessibility/ road cuts given the location of Natonin and Barlig which is mountainous in nature which is also prone to landslides and erosion. In addition, Cordis will surely shift to emergency mode wherein all pending activities and office works will be set aside for the meantime.”

Do you think you can weather the storm?

The team together with partner communities must weather the storm, not literally, but to adjust on whatever the plan and activities are and to strictly follow LGU protocols in this pandemic period,” said Liza.

CorDis-RDS team understands that increasing resilience to natural hazards is much more needed in a pandemic. Preventive actions to protect self and others should be observed, while planning for or experiencing disasters. Being fully informed of these measures and strengthening the capacities of the local actors are their best way to weather the storm.

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