The rain brought by tropical storm Vinta started to trickle over the village of Lininding in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur on the morning of December 23, 2017. Casan Panggaga, 41, hurried to get the rice grains that he laid to dry outside their house. It was when he was putting them in a sack that he heard the sound of heavy rain and raging water coming from a distance.
“I turned around and saw the water from the farthest part of the river swelled and was rushing towards our village. I ran back to the house while shouting for my wife to get the children out,” Casan shared.
He, his wife and two children took to the hills just as the water swallowed some of the houses along the riverside. From their elevated area, they saw their house slowly being uprooted by the strong currents until it finally drifted downstream towards the river. All of their belongings were swept away including the sacks of rice they recently harvested. Water overflowed from the dikes and filled their rice fields.
When the rain and the flood subsided, Casan saw the damage the typhoon caused to his livelihood: eroded sand, soil, rocks and debris buried the dikes and rice fields.
“It would take months of hard work to make it suitable for farming again. But I couldn’t start working because all my tools were lost to the flood,” he said.
Farming was not only his source of income, it also provided them their daily sustenance. All the harvested rice that would get them through the planting season was gone. They mostly relied on relief from the government during the aftermath of the tragedy.
Action Against Hunger mobile teams were on the ground conducting an assessment of the needs of the population affected by the typhoon within 24 hours. With funding support from START FUND, the organization assisted Casan and other families from his community through the distribution of Temporary Shelter Kits for use in repairing and even rebuilding their houses. A kit contains construction materials for temporary shelter: tarpaulin, tie wire, rope, and nails. It also comes along with construction tools: a hammer, a shovel & a saw.
Immediately after rebuilding their house, Casan and his son worked on their farm using the shovels to dig up and clear the mud from the rice fields. As soon as the mud is cleared, they will be working with other farmers to rebuild the dikes so that they could get water flowing from the river to their fields.
“We still need new plows to prepare the soil for planting. But, it’s not too difficult to start farming again because we have new tools now”, he shared.●