Building Resilience: Datu Piang’s Community-Wide Disaster Preparedness Drill

A community emergency drill is not just a test—it empowers conflict-stricken and disaster-prone communities to be more resilient.
 

Residents from vulnerable communities in Datu Piang, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao test their knowledge, attitude, and practices on disaster preparedness during the typhoon preparedness community-wide drill held last May 8, 2024.

Residents from vulnerable communities in Datu Piang, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao test their knowledge, attitude, and practices on disaster preparedness during the typhoon preparedness community-wide drill held last May 8. (Photo by Maryann Zamora for Action Against Hunger)

 
“It is our first time to experience a drill as big as this wherein over 300 people participated in and with support from different state agencies like the Bureau of Fire, Social Welfare and Development and Disaster Risk Reduction Council from the province and municipal level. This drill is important to us, knowing how to improve and prepare better when another disaster might happen to us,” says barangay captain Manny Kuda.

In photo: Participants do a simulation of a rescue operation during the community drill (Photo by Maryann Zamora for Action Against Hunger)

The community drill is the capstone of a comprehensive training series under the iPrepared Project, covering everything from First Aid to Water Search and Rescue. This is part of a larger effort to integrate disaster preparedness into local plans, ensuring resilience from the ground up while working closely and directly with communities, local government units, and other key partners in BARMM.
 
Funded by the American people through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and implemented by Action Against Hunger, this initiative isn’t just about responding to disasters. It’s about empowering communities to stand strong in the face of adversity.
Written by Maryann Zamora

Empowering Local Responders: Water Search and Rescue Training in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5, 2024.

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: Participants get ready to get into the water as part of the training. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

The goal is to equip community responders from seven municipalities in Maguindanao del Sur and Lanao del Sur with the skills needed to handle floods and typhoons confidently.

The training session covered water and flood awareness and quick flood response techniques.

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: Participants do one of the exercises during the session. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: Participants do a simulation of a rescue mission during the training. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) faces frequent flooding due to its proximity to bodies of water like the Rio Grande de Mindanao and Liguasan Marsh. iPrepared aims to boost disaster readiness in the region, emphasizing inclusivity, gender equality, and community partnerships.

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: One of the participating responders preparing to get in the water as part of the rescue exercise. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

With the support of the American people through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, iPrepared empowers local responders to take charge in tackling climate and disaster challenges.


Written by Maryann Zamora

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Responding to Datu Piang’s El Niño Crisis

The Philippines is one of the countries experiencing the impacts of El Niño, resulting in agricultural damage and water shortages across multiple provinces. Datu Piang in Maguindanao del Sur faces extreme heat conditions, with temperatures reaching hazardous levels for both agriculture and residents. In addition to the challenges El Niño poses, the residents also grapple with repeated displacement due to local conflict, further exacerbating their struggles. Since late 2023, our teams have been monitoring the impact of El Niño in the areas where we work.

Since late 2023, Action Against Hunger has been monitoring the impact of El Niño by working closely with the communities, local government units, local and national agencies, and other stakeholders.

El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. It typically occurs every few years and can affect weather patterns globally, leading to various climate changes such as increased rainfall in some areas and droughts in others.

This has affected more than 28,000 people according to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Datu Piang. Crop failures have left four out of sixteen barangays with no income, hitting farmers and fisherfolks the hardest. An estimated 180 hectares of corn have been destroyed, amounting to a loss of approximately 1.6 million pesos. Additionally, groundwater levels in barangays along the Rio Grande de Mindanao River have dropped by 10 to 11 feet, equivalent to the height of a one-story building.

In photo: Action Against Hunger staff monitors the water level of local rivers in our areas of interventions.

The extreme conditions have forced farmers to halt the production of corn, rice, and vegetables due to the rapid depletion of water in creeks and river channels. Crops planted in late January 2024 did not survive, while those planted in late December 2023 to early January yielded only half of the expected harvest. All fishponds have also ceased operations. Because of this, many people are faced with limited livelihood opportunities and even food supplies. More than 2,000 farmers across all barangays in Datu Piang are affected. On April 29, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government declared a State of Calamity for the entire region.

218 farming families in Datu Piang receive 50kg sacks of rice after Action Against Hunger activated the rapid response mechanism of the SUPREME-BARMM project funded by the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

With a commitment to provide quick life-saving and inclusive emergency assistance to hazard-affected communities, Action Against Hunger, through the SUPREME-BARMM consortium project has activated a rapid response mechanism (RRM) with the support of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid. The response includes providing food relief to support affected farmers for at least one month, or until the El Niño impact subsides and the anticipated transition to La Niña occurs between June and August. The RRM aims to strengthen the capacity of local institutions and communities to respond to emergencies, enhancing their resilience and preparedness for future incidents.

Despite the dire circumstances, the resilience and unity of the community offer a glimmer of hope. Efforts from the local government along with other humanitarian actors are vital in mitigating the crisis. Quick response efforts focused on food security and livelihood support are more crucial now than ever.

The Strengthening Resilience through Early Warning System, Enhanced Anticipatory Action, and Multi-risk Landscape Approach in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (SUPREME-BARMM) Project is funded by the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and implemented by ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines CARE, Community Organizers Multiversity, Humanity & Inclusion, Manila Observatory People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network, Inc., Plan International, and Oxfam Pilipinas.

Written by Mark Dalin-as| Edited by Joyce Sandajan

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Restoring Cleanliness and Hope: How hygiene supplies go a long way in times of emergencies

Leizel, 42, used to live a quiet and humble life in Barangay Mainit Nabunturan, Davao de Oro, with her husband and children. Their small store and her husband’s income were enough to meet their daily needs. However, their simple life took a complete turn almost overnight when continuous heavy rains caused severe flooding in their community, damaging their home and belongings.

While out of town in Cagayan de Oro City, Leizel received the heartbreaking news of their home’s destruction. Upon returning, she and her family found their possessions destroyed and their home unlivable. They were subsequently relocated to an evacuation center, where they had to adapt to life with limited access to basic needs.

Life at the evacuation center was particularly challenging for Leizel and her family. Accessing water required hours of waiting, and maintaining hygiene was difficult due to the lack of necessary supplies. They often had to line up for food, eating only once or twice a day depending on the availability of supplies.

Witnessing these struggles, Action Against Hunger provided hygiene kits through the ACCESS project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) immediately after their displacement. These kits included essential items such as bath soap, laundry soap, shampoo, a plastic pail, a plastic dipper, a nail cutter, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and bath towels. On an average day, these items are often taken for granted. But, in times of crisis, they were instrumental in helping Leizel’s family maintain good hygiene during this difficult time.

I am immensely grateful to Action Against Hunger and ECHO for their support and commitment to helping people in need during emergencies. The hygiene kit has made a significant difference in our lives.

“The hygiene kit was a lifeline for us, as we were struggling to maintain our hygiene while being displaced from our homes due to an emergency,” said Leizel.

In photo: Action Against Hunger Field Officer shows to the beneficiaries of Barangay Mainit the contents of the hygiene kit.

Leizel expressed her deep gratitude for the support. “Dako kaayo akong pasalamat sa Action Against Hunger ug sa ECHO sa ilang suporta ug pagsalig sa pagtabang sa mga nagkinahanglan panahon sa emergency. Dako kaayo ang natabang sa hygiene kit sa amoa. (I am immensely grateful to Action Against Hunger and ECHO for their support and commitment to helping people in need during emergencies. The hygiene kit has made a significant difference in our lives.)”

Evacuees in Barangay Magsaysay in Nabunturan also received hygiene kits from Action Against Hunger through the ACCESS project.

Leizel stays strong for her family as they recover from the impacts of the flooding. She found solace in the kindness and support of volunteers and fellow evacuees, who became friends through their shared adversity. “Bisan pa adunay mga kalisod sa among pagpuyo sa evacuation center apan nahimo usab kini nga nagpamatood nga adunay kasingkasing sa pagkamaloloy-on. Nakita nako ang pagkamanggihatagon ug pagkahiusa sa mga volunteers ug uban pang evacuees. (Although residing in an evacuation center has presented difficulties, it has also served as evidence of humanity’s resilience and compassion. I have observed amazing acts of generosity and solidarity from volunteers and other evacuees, despite the uncertainty and discomfort),” she shares.

Beneficiaries from Barangay Bayabas attend a hygiene promotion session before receiving their hygiene kits.

ACCESS is funded by the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid and implemented by consortium members ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger, CARE Philippines, Community Organizers Multiversity, Humanity & Inclusion Philippines, Integrated Mindanaoans Association for Natives, Inc. (IMAN), Leading Individuals to Flourish and Thrive Inc. (LIFT), Mindanao Organization for Social and Economic Progress, Inc. (MOSEP), Notre Dame of Jolo College, National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK), and Save the Children Philippines.


Written by Jenelyn Flores| Contributor: Edited by Joyce Sandajan

 

Responding to the Mindanao Flooding Crisis

As Mindanao grapples with the aftermath of devastating flooding and landslides, Action Against Hunger is mobilizing to respond to the urgent needs of affected communities. The recent onslaught of heavy rains, warned by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on January 18, 2024, has left a trail of destruction in its wake, particularly in Agusan del Sur, Davao de Oro, Davao Del Norte, and Davao Oriental, affecting nearly 1.1 million people and displacing 354,000 individuals.


In Davao De Oro (DDO), a tragic landslide incident buried vehicles and resulted in injuries, compounding the challenges faced by already vulnerable populations. Homes, agriculture, and infrastructure were severely damaged across the region. Despite efforts from the national government and humanitarian organizations, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) providing essential aid, the scale of the disaster requires additional resources and support with some provinces expressing the need for assistance to complement their response efforts.


Action Against Hunger has been on the ground since February 8 to identify the immediate humanitarian needs of those affected. Our Mission Emergency Response team has been coordinating with local authorities and partners to address the immediate needs of communities in distress. We have established contacts and partnerships in the affected provinces, enabling us to respond effectively and efficiently. As assessments continue and the need for assistance grows, Action Against Hunger is gearing up to provide vital relief to those affected.


Identified needs include food assistance, water, sanitation, shelter, healthcare, agricultural support, and fuel for cooking. Action Against Hunger is committed to addressing these needs comprehensively, focusing on the most vulnerable populations in evacuation centers and host communities. Our response will encompass a range of interventions, including food distribution, and water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) initiatives.


One of the displaced families, Donabelle, shared her harrowing experience of the disaster. Pregnant and with her husband unable to work as a carpenter due to displacement, she faces an uncertain future in the evacuation center. The fear and uncertainty surrounding their situation are palpable, underscoring the urgent need for support and assistance.

Action Against Hunger’s next steps involve a targeted and coordinated response, prioritizing the most pressing needs of affected communities. With our teams mobilized and resources at the ready, we are poised to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those impacted by this tragedy.

With the support of the American people through the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Action Against Hunger is initiating an emergency response to support flood-affected communities in the Davao Region. We will be providing immediate humanitarian aid in water, sanitation, & hygiene (WASH) in the next few days.

Our focus includes distributing emergency WASH kits, and multi-purpose cash assistance to support at least 7,500 people through this emergency response. We stand ready to provide hope and assistance to those in need during this challenging time.

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CALP Network’s Successful ToT Program Advances Core CVA Skills in Manila with Support from USAID

Last week, the CALP Network successfully completed a Training of Trainers (ToT) program on Core Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) Skills for Programme Staff in Manila, Philippines, held from November 20th to 24th, 2023.
 
The ToT saw active participation from 16 CVA practitioners representing diverse backgrounds from 11 different agencies including UN entities, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and local actors. These CVA professionals came from countries such as Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, and Ukraine, and from those whose roles cover the Pacific and Central Asia regions.
 
This training initiative forms an integral part of CALP’s support aimed at assisting the humanitarian community in achieving high-quality Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) at scale. The importance of enhancing staff capacity is underscored by the insights presented in the State of the World’s Cash Report 2023, which emphatically asserts that “increasing staff capacity offers one of the biggest opportunities for the growth of CVA.”
 
Expanding the team of CALP-certified trainers in the Asia-Pacific region on Core CVA Skills for Programme Staff Training holds the potential to significantly enhance access to CVA learning opportunities for humanitarians. Having this will help in contributing to the broader goal of advancing proficiency and effectiveness in cash-based interventions.
In photo: Joseph Curry, regional humanitarian advisor at USAID gives a message during the Trainers (ToT) program on Core CVA Skills.
With USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance‘s support, the CALP Network serves as a collaborative platform that brings together organizations to strengthen their capacity, knowledge, coordination, and policies related to Cash and Voucher Assistance. Action Against Hunger is an active member of the CALP Network and currently hosts its Asia-Pacific Region team.

Action Against Hunger Country Director, Suresh Murugesu, at the Trainers (ToT) program on Core CVA Skills.

Empowering Farmers for a Climate-Resilient Future in Lanao del Sur

LANAO DEL SUR, MINDANAO – Over 200 farmers from six barangays in Balabagan and Kapatagan are embarking on an inspiring 8-month journey with the iPrepared project’s Climate Resilience Farmer Field School (CRFS) program. Among them is the resilient 43-year-old Bhai from Barangay Proper Kapatagan.
 
Nearly four months since the CRFS program began, Bhai and her fellow farmers have already gained valuable insights into climate-smart agriculture. Bhai also received a generous supply of vegetable seeds, including string beans, bottle gourd, tomatoes, eggplant, white cucumber, and bokchoy.
 
With unwavering support from the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA), Action Against Hunger, through the iPrepared project, is on a mission to empower vulnerable communities in Mindanao, enabling them to better tackle the challenges posed by climate change. The CRFS program is also done in coordination with the Office of Provincial Agriculture (OPAG).
Bhai’s vision extends beyond herself; she envisions her children becoming stewards of the land. Together, they make learning a family affair, a cherished activity during school breaks. With a heart full of love, she seeks to provide nourishment for her family, ensuring they have access to a bounty of homegrown vegetables.
“The knowledge I’ve gained will enable me to make the most of the land in front of our home,” she shares with excitement. “I’ve also learned to be resourceful by reusing plastic to help my plants thrive.” Even though her home is about 2 kilometers away from the demo farm, her determination to learn and apply her newfound knowledge knows no bounds.
We continue to work hand in hand with these communities, nurturing the seeds of change we’ve planted. Together, we are paving the way for a more climate-resilient future, one step at a time, with the promise of even brighter days ahead.

The ‘Inclusive Disaster Preparedness for Local Resilience in Areas at High-Risk of Natural and Human-Induced Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao, Philippines’ or iPrepared Project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger

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Safe water in a safe community

For Aslani Atha Casim and his family, getting clean water and safe access to hygiene facilities was a struggle in their community. The 27-year-old farmer lives with his wife and three kids in Barangay Baya, located in the Municipality of Ganassi, Lanao Del Sur.

Residents of Barangay Baya used to get their water from the nearby river which is half a kilometer away from the community. To get there, Aslani and his family would need to either hike or ride a horse so they could fetch water, do laundry, and take baths.

“It’s not easy because my wife and I have to carry heavy water containers going back home,” says Aslani. On rainy days, going to the river was difficult because the road would become slippery. This made Aslani worry about his family’s safety.

Through the ECHO-funded REACH Project, Action Against Hunger provided water, sanitation, & hygiene support to the community of Baya. This included rehabilitating the communal toilet that is separate for men and women. We also repaired existing tap stands to extend the water supply, so residents no longer need to travel far to access water from the river. Apart from this, the community also received hygiene promotion sessions that talked about personal hygiene, as well as maintaining the cleanliness of the communal toilets.

Solar lights were also installed to lighten the areas around the water and sanitation facilities and make the facilities safer to use in the evenings. Community members including the family of Aslani have participated in the hygiene promotion activities and learned about the good hygiene practices as well the prevention of water and sanitation related diseases. Health seeking and hygiene behavior were reinforced by these sessions since access to WASH facilities were made available in consideration of respect and dignity.

Aslani shares that the intervention has impacted their everyday lives now that they have WASH facilities that are socially inclusive.

He also highlighted that the new facilities make the women and children in their community feel safer. “I’m grateful that the toilet for men is separated from the women’s toilet. Children become more conscious of their hygiene, which is good because the facility is child friendly. “It has made people’s lives easier. We don’t have to ride a horse or walk under the sun. I don’t need to worry when my wife wants to wash the laundry because the [comfort room] is just a walking distance near our house,” Aslani said.

Since WASH facilities are available, more people have been coming to their barangay to get water. “This is a huge help for every Muslim in our barangay especially since Ramadhan is approaching and everyone would need water and [comfort room] for ablution,” Aslani added.


With support from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the “Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-Affected Populations in Mindanao” or REACH 3 Project is implemented by ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, Community Organizers Multiversity, IDEALS, Inc., Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro, United Youth of the Philippines-Women, and Oxfam Pilipinas.

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Working together with local agencies and LGUs to provide rapid response

“MOVE UP Project, in coordination with the Parang MDRRMO has been instrumental in the delivery of Multipurpose Cash Transfer and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support interventions under its Rapid Response Mechanism to the displaced families affected by armed conflict in GT Biruar. These interventions benefitted the IDPs, especially the most vulnerable who were provided immediate, life-saving assistance,” shares Ms. Norah Mamariong, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Officer (MDRRMO) of Parang, Maguindanao del Norte.

With funding from the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), MOVE UP 5 through Action Against Hunger provided cash assistance and conducted a Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) Session for Adults who were affected by the recent ‘rido’ in Barangay G.T Biruar, Parang.

Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Social Services and Development – BARMM, MDRRMO of the Municipality of Parang, and the officials of Barangay G.T Biruar, MOVE UP 5 was able to quickly respond to the needs of the affected community.


This rapid response is part of the Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 5) consortium project implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, CARE Philippines, Plan International Philippines, and Nissa Ul-Haqq Bangsamoro with funding support from the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

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Siargao Farmers Trained on Good Agricultural Practices and Organic Farming

Farmers affected by Typhoon Odette attended a farmer training on Good Agricultural Practices and Organic farming in the municipalities of San Benito and Burgos on the island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte last December 2022.

The training is facilitated by trainers from the Rice Specialists Training Course (RSCT). The participants from barangays Orok and Talisay learn approaches on how to rebuild their agricultural livelihoods and increase their farm yields through sustainable and safe methods.

Among other things, they learn about the importance of intercropping and how to make and apply organic fertilizers and pesticides. They also learned how to transfer their newfound knowledge to others.

After the training, they will facilitate sharing what they learned with other farmers in their communities.

Photos by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | December 2022, Siargao, Surigao del Norte

The livelihood support is part of the second phase of the project ‘‘Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette’, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against HungerCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


Written by Arianne Gijsenbergh Read more