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Disparities in Diabetes: Applying intersectionality to understand diabetes

  • CARE Philippines
  • Blog, Gender, Gender, Healthy Mothers & Children, Other Topic, Uncategorized

Written by: Juin Ancha (CARE Philippines)

November 14 — World Diabetes Day. Various health organizations and groups all over the country urge the Filipino community to take active measures to prevent this life-threatening illness. However, simple lifestyle and dietary changes may not be enough to comprehensively address diabetes, especially within the context of vulnerable populations. Pervasive gender norms and roles are also factors that influence the health and well-being outcomes of Filipino women and men. As we commemorate World Diabetes Day, we encourage the public to use an intersectional lens to understand diabetes.

Diabetes at a glance

Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic, and the Philippines is not exempt. According to the International Diabetes Federation, of the 64 million adults in the country, 4 million have diabetes. However, even with these high numbers, there could be more undocumented cases, specifically in low-income, rural, and armed-conflict-affected areas. Lack of health facilities in far-flung communities, lack of access to diabetes information, and lack of access to basic services continue to be major factors that prevent people, including the elderly, children, women, and men, from seeking timely health check-ups and routine monitoring. Socioeconomic constraints do not help either, and only contribute to a general reluctance among poor families to seek medical intervention.

Early detection of diabetes is hard when you are poor and internally displaced. In Lanao del Sur, many people did not know that they were diabetic until they saw CARE Philippines NCD-LOVE. NCD-LOVE was a three-year pilot project designed to introduce innovative approaches to address health issues, specifically non-communicable diseases, diabetes included. From providing technical assistance and capacity buildings to partner government stakeholders, augmenting NCD service delivery in project sites, and ensuring its sustainability through transition plans, the NCD-LOVE indeed provided strong advocacy on health and well-being. In 2023 alone, the project reached 15 municipalities in Lanao del Sur and served 7,031 patients, of which 67% were women.

Using intersectionality as lens to understanding diabetes

Lived experiences of diabetes can be best understood through an intersectional lens that considers the social identities of ordinary Filipinos. Due to deep-seated culture and gender norms, various gender biases have affected not only our behavior towards health but also our understanding of health. According to the World Health Organization, the majority of studies on NCD, diabetes included, have been undertaken on men, and women have been less diagnosed at early stages. As a result, even health interventions have placed women at the periphery of diabetes attention.

“No words could express how CARE helped us and made us happy, especially here in our community,” – shared Alma (not her real name), 58 years old, a woman with diabetes from Boganga Transitory site. That is why the NCD-LOVE project purposefully targeted not only low-income households in conflict-afflicted areas but, more importantly, women.

“We deeply appreciate the invaluable support from CARE and Abbott, which has been instrumental in propelling this NCD-LOVE program forward. Our steadfast commitment to prioritizing health and well-being remains resolute. As we look ahead, our focus remains steadfast on ensuring the sustainability of our NCD-LOVE program, guaranteeing that the progress achieved endures for the long term,” stated IPHO II.

Unlocking one of the key solutions, applying intersectionality in analyzing diabetes, opens discussions beyond the medical model of this life-threatening, non-communicable disease.

The NCD-LOVE project was funded by Abbott and the Abbott Fund.

Ten Years On: Typhoon Haiyan’s Legacy of Resilience and Renewal 

  • CARE Philippines
  • Blog, Disaster Response, Gender, Latest News & Stories, Stories of Change, Uncategorized

Written by: Reiza S. Dejito (CARE Philippines)

Ten years ago, Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, roared through the central islands of the archipelago. It was a storm that would go down in history as one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded. Today, we stand a decade removed from the devastation, yet the memories remain, etched into the heart of every survivor and every humanitarian effort that rose from the rubble. Maria Theresa “Tess” Bayombong, a Program Consultant for CARE Philippines, offers a stirring retrospective of the resilience, recovery, and rebirth in the aftermath of the super typhoon. 

Tess’ Recollections: Solidarity Amidst Ruins: “When I first set foot in the typhoon-stricken village of San Miguel, Leyte, the destruction was unimaginable,” Tess begins. “But amidst this landscape of despair, what moved me were not the signs of destruction but the signs of unity and human spirit.” She witnessed a community coming together, embodying the Filipino spirit of “bayanihan”—helping hands and hopeful hearts working in unison to rebuild, even as they carried the weight of their own losses. 

In photo: Ms. Tess Bayombong

“Their gratitude for the simple necessity of roofing materials was a powerful reminder of human resilience,” Tess recalls. “Even when our resources could not reach everyone, the community took it upon themselves to share what little they had, ensuring no one was left unprotected from the elements. This collective sacrifice and kindness were truly inspiring.” 

Impact and Adaptation: The CARE Response: Tess reflects on the long-term impact Haiyan had on the people’s livelihoods, especially in areas like Leyte where coconut farming was not just a job but a way of life passed down through generations. “Seeing the women of these communities, who had lost the very tools of their trade, come together to learn new skills and rebuild their livelihoods was a testament to their indomitable will,” she notes. 

CARE’s adaptive humanitarian response played a pivotal role in this transformation. From immediate life-saving assistance to supporting long-term self-recovery, CARE’s three-phase approach was not only practical but deeply empathetic. Tess speaks proudly of the organization’s efforts in providing technical assistance, training, and financial support that empowered women and rejuvenated local economies.

Lessons Learned: Shaping Future Responses: The greatest lessons come from the hardest experiences. Tess emphasizes that the most crucial takeaway from the Typhoon Haiyan response was the effectiveness of a phased, adaptable approach in emergency response. “It was about listening to the needs of the community and responding in a way that supported not just survival but sustainable growth and self-sufficiency.” 

This experience has indelibly shaped CARE’s approach to disaster preparedness and response. Gender-responsive strategies and financial assistance have helped pave the way for a future where communities are not only ready to face emergencies but are also equipped to thrive afterward.

A Beacon of Hope for Tomorrow: As we commemorate the ten-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, we don’t just look back; we look forward, carrying the lessons and stories of strength with us. Tess’ account is a beacon of hope—an illumination of the path forward marked by solidarity, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to empowerment and preparedness. 

“Typhoon Haiyan was a story of loss, but more importantly, it was a story of hope, of communities coming together, of women taking charge of their destinies, and of an organization that stood by them,” Tess concludes. “Today, we remember, we honor, and we continue to build a more resilient future.”

Recovering the Family Business: Rosana’s Story

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Stories of Change

“I was able to expand my business and increased my income through the project’s assistance. I can now provide for the needs of my family, and I won’t have to work elsewhere and away from my children”, shared Rosana, 36, a woman entrepreneur in Del Carmen municipality in Siargao.  

She and her husband, Olibert, manage an eatery that sells cooked food, grilled meat, coconut drinks, and various sundry items. Locals and tourists who crave cheap comfort food have been coming and going. The business brings considerable income to support their family of six.  

This was far-fetched from their situation more than a year ago when super typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, ravaged everything they had in just a few hours of destruction. They lost their cooking equipment and ingredients. Their food stall was also destroyed.  

They used up their business capital and savings to survive the first few months after the typhoon. To ensure that their children’s needs were taken care of, her husband sold young coconut juice to tourists who were slowly coming back to the island. However, it barely brought money to the household because of the unstable supply of young coconuts affected by the typhoon.  

So, Rosana made the difficult choice of leaving her family. She worked as a house helper in another municipality and stayed there for six months. She endured the worry of being away so she could earn money.

“If I didn’t work, I was afraid I couldn’t give my children the support they needed at that time”, she said.

She longed to go back home and restart their business. However, their income couldn’t afford them to put up the needed business capital. When CARE introduced project WAVES (WoMen Adding Value to the Economy in Siargao) to their community, she was selected as one of its participants. The project aims to assist typhoon-affected small entrepreneurs, like her, to recover their livelihood and reintegrate them into the local tourism industry of the island.  

She underwent training organized by the project to improve the financial and entrepreneurial capacities and competencies of project participants. She then received financial assistance which she used to buy cooking equipment and set up their shop.  

“I learned to record and monitor our income and expenditure and started saving again”, she said. With their business thriving, she added that they had more time spent with their children and didn’t have to worry about not being able to provide for their needs.  

Project WAVES is a partnership between CARE and the Tijori Foundation to build resilient livelihoods for typhoon-affected small entrepreneurs in the community-based tourism value chain. 

Managing a Community-Based Coconut Nursery: The Padillos of Calape, Bohol

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Featured Stories, Latest News & Stories, Other Topic, Stories of Change

“I’ve learned how to manage a nursery which farmers can establish in their own farms. The training also encouraged us to be smart on how we plant coconuts as well as other crops to avoid losses due to changes in weather conditions”, said Lorna Padillos, 47, a farmer from Barangay Lucob, Calape, Bohol.

She is the manager of the community coconut nursery which is located in a patch of land near their family’s farmhouse. She and her husband, Silvestre, take turns ensuring that the nursery is well taken care of and secured from being damaged by farm animals.

One hundred coconut farmers who are partners in the implementation of the RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for SEverely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by ST Odette) project in Barangay Lucob presently use the nursery to propagate seed nuts and prepare seedlings for planting in their respective farms. Lorna shared that the nursery became a learning venue for them to apply good coconut farming practices such as choosing the best variety of seed nuts to propagate, using organic compost or vermicast as fertilizer, and deciding the appropriate time of the year to plant based on climate conditions that they learned from the series of training conducted through the project. They were also trained on how to manage their finances and how to save for emergencies such as typhoon Odette which took almost everything they own.

“We used to live comfortably before the typhoon. We had a house, a coconut, and a rice farm. We also raised poultry and livestock and tended a vegetable garden for food”, she said.

The typhoon left only one room of their house for them to live in for a while. They lost the coconuts, rice, farm animals, and vegetables to the harsh winds and heavy rains. The experience left the couple devastated and didn’t know how to provide for their family’s daily needs.

They received financial and material assistance from the government which only lasted for a couple of months. They had to rely on one of their children who was already working to provide them with money for repairing their house and to have something to eat daily. To start farming, they borrowed money from lenders to buy farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers. However, they found it difficult to source coconut seedlings because all of Bohol was heavily affected by the typhoon.

When the RISE Coco project staff conducted a consultation in their barangay in August 2022, their family was selected as one of the beneficiaries in their community and were oriented about the project. They accepted to be part of the project because of their interest in recovering their coconut farm. She and her husband underwent training on financial literacy and sustainable good agriculture including climate-resilient coconut farming.

With the establishment of the nursery, Lorna became its manager. This was during the long dry season and propagating seed nuts was a challenge because of the intense heat. She and her husband, along with other farmers took turns in watering the seed nuts every day to prevent them from withering. Their hard work paid off. By October 2023, they were able to propagate almost 3,9678 seed nuts and seedlings. Out of these, they have replanted 2,849 coconuts in various beneficiary farms.  

As a manager, she has the challenging task of encouraging her fellow coconut farmers to be responsible for their seed nuts and seedlings in the nursery. She sees it as a sustainable source of seedlings and income for the members. Many farms in the province are still struggling to find a good source of copra-quality seedlings. Community-based nurseries that are well-managed like theirs could earn from selling their seedlings.

“We rehabilitate our farms and we will no longer worry about where to get seedlings when we need them”, she added. 

The RISE Coco project aims to address the critical needs of typhoon Odette-affected coconut farmers for livelihood support, primarily the alternative sources of income while rehabilitating their damaged coconut trees in 2 years. It is implemented by CARE in partnership with the CebuBohol Relief and Rehabilitation Center and supported by Cargill.

Opening Open Government: Women’s Rights Organisations and the Open Government Partnership in the Philippines

  • Mary Therese Norbe
  • Evaluation / Research, Gender, Reports & Publications

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative to advance open government through collaboration between government and civil society. Governments work with civil society in multi-stakeholder forums to co-create Action Plans that contain commitments to advance transparency, participation, and accountability.

Briefer: Women Lead in Emergencies Polling Research

The Women Lead in Emergencies (WLiE) is a Research Project of CARE Philippines, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the National Society of Informal Workers in the Philippines (PATAMABA) that will last six months from May to November 2023.

Project Briefer: PEACE Tawi-Tawi

The Pursuing Economic Attainment through Collective Engagement (PEACE) project seeks to improve the economic empowerment of seaweed and poultry value chain actors (producers, processors, traders, and workers), especially women and female youth in Tawi-Tawi within 2 years.

Project Briefer: RISE Coco

The RISE Coco (Recovery Intervention for SEverely Affected Coconut Farming Communities of Bohol by ST Odette) Project aims to address the critical needs of typhoon Odette-affected coconut farmers for livelihood support, primarily the alternative sources of income while rehabilitating their damaged coconut trees in 2 years.

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