Nutrition-focused Programming

SITTIE AINA PALAO, 25, is a mother of 3, residing in the Municipality of Buadiposo Buntong, Lanao del Sur which was greatly affected by Typhoon Tembin when it hit the Philippines in December of 2017. Typhoon Tembin or locally known as Typhoon Vinta, is considered as the deadliest tropical cyclone to strike the Mindanao area since Typhoon Bopha in 2012. Her municipality is also host to internally displaced persons from the Marawi Siege, a 5 month-long armed conflict which started in May 2017.

Sittie’s husband works at a farm while she manages their small sarisari store or neighborhood variety store. Both were damaged during the typhoon which resulted in their dependence on humanitarian assistance, being unable to restore their small enterprise.

In addition to their family’s economic insecurity, Sittie is a lactating mother with Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measurement of 20.7cms on initial nutritional screening, which means she is identified as having severe acute malnutrition (SAM). One of her children was also detected to be severely stunted wherein height is inappropriate to age, another was detected to be severely wasted, while the baby below 6 months on exclusive breastfeeding was also identified to have SAM.

With this economic, health and nutrition status, Action Against Hunger provided Sittie support to restore their livelihoods through cash transfer program where she received Php7,000 last 8 February 2019, in addition to 3 rounds of food aid. Since they are malnourished, Action Against Hunger referred them to RHU for management and treatment using the Ready-to-use Therapeutic and Supplementary Food (RUTF and RUSF).

Aside from these, Sittie also participated in awareness sessions on IYCF and hygiene promotion. After a month, Sittie shared that with the food aid given, she is now able to prepare quality meals for her family and that unlike before they no longer eat just once a day. She further shared that the startup capital now provides them an income of at least Php500 per day. “I will really work hard so my store will become big. I am also saving so I can buy a washing machine,” says Sittie of her plans. Further, Sittie narrates that the project helped her to understand nutrition risk to children and PLW. This motivates her to ensure that the regular checkup schedules are followed. Sittie added that the nutritional status of her children has improved because of the joint support of Action Against Hunger and Rural Health Unit of Buadiposo Buntong. She is also happy on the health services provided by the RHU.

In Photo: Sittie and her child during a check-up at the Rural Health Center

Sittie is just one of the many vulnerable women identified by Action Against Hunger through its nutrition-focused targeting for cash-based interventions. Action Against Hunger provides cash transfer to mothers like Sittie to enable them to buy food and/ or other urgent basic needs and/ or restore income generating activities while helping to support local markets. It empowers them to take control of their health and nutrition, enables them to provide for themselves and their family, and allows them to see their children grow up strong.

(Written by Menchie Lacson for Action Against Hunger)


In the morning of September 15, Sinamar’s home in Barangay Camp 3 of Tuba, Benguet was caught in a landslide due to Typhoon Ompong. Sinamar, her husband Dennis, their 6-year-old son and other relatives managed to safely evacuate the area. Unfortunately, they also lost a family member as Dennis’ aunt was initially trapped under the eroded soil that buried her home. Four months after their ordeal, Sinamar and her family were left without a home and had to temporarily reside in the evacuation center located at their Barangay’s elementary school.    “We couldn’t pass through the main road because it was already eroded by then, so we climbed through the mountain despite the landslide. When we got to the hospital, we stayed there for a week because the children were traumatized,” recalled Sinamar.

Fifty-five-year-old Editha had a similar experience as she, her husband Philip, and their 3 youngest children had to leave their home after the typhoon left damages to their area. They, along with several other families, were no longer allowed to return to their home in Barangay Gumatdang, Itogon, Benguet after it was categorized as part of the danger zone. This left them no choice but to rent a house nearby at ₱3,000 per month. Before Ompong, Philip used to have a stable income by working in the mines. Since the mines needed to be closed for safety purposes, for the time being he creates soft reed brooms which Editha sells in the city. Editha also takes laundry and cleaning jobs as added income. “I hope there won’t be another typhoon like Ompong. Right now, I just wish we’ll be able to go back to our old home so that we won’t have to pay monthly rent,” said Editha.

Editha shares her story how they had to evacuate from their home after a landslide occurred in their neighborhood due to Ompong.

Typhoon Ompong, internationally referred to as Mangkhut, made landfall on September 15, 2018 as a category 4 typhoon with sustained wind speeds of over 200 km/h and gusts of up to over 300 km/h.  The large diameter of the typhoon, close to 900 km, affected Regions I, II, III, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), IV-A, IV-B and Metro Manila. Damages to infrastructure and agricultural resulted to an estimated 33.9 Billion Pesos – the 4th costliest typhoon in Philippine history.

The families of Sinamar and Editha including more than 2.14 Million individuals were affected by the typhoon. The landslides proved fatal for families in Benguet, with a total of 71 deaths and 50 injuries confirmed by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Action Against Hunger’s Mission Emergency Response Team were on the ground immediately after Typhoon Ompong made landfall and assessed the humanitarian needs of the affected communities in Benguet from September 15 to 20 and have since provided necessary interventions thereafter since provided necessary interventions. Sinamar and Editha’s families were some of the beneficiaries that were given hygiene kits and financial aid as part of Action Against Hunger’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and food security, & livelihood (FSL) projects funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), European Union – Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). ●



No matter the magnitude and scale of a disaster, the people in the community are always the first to deal with its impact. Thus, it is imperative for people in the community to be well-equipped, not only to respond to, but more so to prepare for disaster risks that they face in their communities. While it is the primary responsibility of government and state actors to uphold people’s right to life and safety and to be protected from any forms of threat, may it be natural or human-induced, people in the community also have the right to develop their capacities to contribute to the process of community resilience building.

The second phase of the I-RESPOND project, implemented by the Action Against Hunger and in partnership with the Kindernothilfe (KNH), seeks to contribute towards this process of resilience building by enabling community-based and multi-stakeholder approach to disaster risk governance. Building on the gains of I-RESPOND Phase 1, wherein 25 Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners of KNH were capacitated to conduct Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Assessment (PCVA) and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Planning in their covered barangays in the Philippines, I-RESPOND Phase 2 seeks to raise the stakes among different DRRM actors in the community to engage in participatory and inclusive risk governance.

Participants of the Training on Good Governance in DRRM of Brgy. Dualing, Aleosan, N.
Cotabato learn about the basic concepts in DRRM. (Photos by Louielyn Morada)

In partnership with 7 out of 25 CSOs from Phase 1, namely Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc., BULAK Kabataan, Inc., Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA), Foundation for the Development of Agusanons, Inc. (FDAI), Lakas ng mga Ina, Kabataan, at Sambayanan (LIKAS) Federation, Inc., Self-Help Approach and Rights-based Environment, Inc. (SHARE), and the Tribal Leaders Development Foundation, Inc. (TLDFI), I-RESPOND Phase 2 will focus on capacitating community-based organizations such as Self-Help Groups (SheGs), and Cluster Level Associations (CLAs) in 7 areas in Mindanao and Luzon to collaborate with and influence their respective local government units in disaster risk governance processes. This affirms the fact that members of at-risk communities, including the most vulnerable groups, must be able to participate in decision-making processes and collective action in DRRM through their organizations. Upholding the provisions of the Philippine DRRM Act of 2010 (R.A. 10121), CSO’s must have an enabling space within the local DRRM councils/committees in order to represent their sectors and communities in assessing disaster risks, formulating, budgeting for and implementing DRRM plans, as well as in setting in place mechanisms for accountability.

The Philippines have seen significant developments in policies and practice in DRRM in the past decade. It is similarly so at the international level, with the advent of post-2015 agenda such as the Sendai Framework for DRR, the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, and the World Humanitarian Summit. With these in mind, project partners also hope for I-RESPOND 2 to enable the process of reflecting on these developments using the experiences at the local level. Because more than the question of whether these contributed positively on the lives of people in the communities, is the question of how we worked together towards a safe and resilient community. ●


The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 46,360 people have been displaced in Maguindanao since March 2019 because of the renewed armed conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the interior areas of the SPMS box (Salibu, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak).

The SPMS box and the surrounding municipalities have seen continuous hostilities between government forces and rebel groups in the past several years, causing repeated displacement of the same communities in the area.

(Photo by Mhods Suga for Action Against Hunger)

17% of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) live with relatives while 83% are staying in evacuation centers scattered across the area.

“Living conditions are difficult for those in evacuation centers due to inadequate sleeping quarters that offer limited protection from the elements, inefficient cooking areas, limited access to water and sanitary facilities,” said William Baang, former Head of Base for Action Against Hunger’s office in Cotabato. “These variables increase the likelihood of diseases spreading, so it is important that people are given the necessary tools and training to stay hygienic.”

Action Against Hunger conducted hygiene and sanitary promotion sessions along with providing emergency nonfood items and hygiene kits to 600 households in Datu Salibu and Shariff Saydona Mustapha. ●


Rohaima & Usman Bungkas had a general merchandise store in the commercial district of Marawi. After being displaced for almost a year following the Marawi siege, the family came back to find their store destroyed. With four teenage children to take care of, the couple needed an income source.

The Palaso family had similar struggles. Fatima Palaso, her husband Arman, and 5 children found refuge from the violence in the nearby town of Balindong.  Her family’s only source of income was Arman’s livelihood as a driver-for-hire – not enough for the household.  With only a thousand-peso-capital, Fatima decided to open a small store to augment their income.

As part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Livelihood Restoration Project implemented by Action Against Hunger, Fatima, Rohaima and Usman were some of the beneficiaries who attended a series of financial management orientations and received a cash grant of ₱10,000.

Rohaima and Usman opened a small eatery in Barangay Luksadato which now earns ₱11,500 per month. “I am very happy for the support I received to put up my eatery. If not for this, my family would not have any income at all. I am very grateful,” said Rohaima.

Rohaima and Usman hapilly accommodate a customer buying a meal from their eatery


Fatima on the other hand used the grant as additional capital. Her store now earns ₱ 8,000 net income monthly. “The cash grant is a big help for my family because my store is getting bigger.  I now have money for the daily school expenses of my children.” She is positive that her store’s success helped them overcome the initial hardships they endured when they fled Marawi. ●


Kautin Bano, his wife and children, had to leave their home in Barangay Pandi, Datu Salibo on March 11, 2019, Maguindanao due to the airstrikes that occurred in Barangay Inaladan, Shariff Saydona.

“We were all panicking and we didn’t know what to do at the time that airstrikes started,” recalled Kautin. “We left around 6 in the morning and evacuated to the nearest health center. When we got there, we had no choice but to wait and observe.”

This was not the first time that Kautin and his family were forced to leave their home. During the 1980s, they had to evacuate several times due to a conflict that started with a personal grudge between powerful families. In 2000, they went through a long evacuation process because of the all-out-war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao. Eight years after, Kautin’s family were part of the 390,000 people displaced when the renewed fighting took place in October 2008 after the drafting of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

This time around, Kautin’s family face the same challenges they experienced as frequent evacuees. He explained how difficult their situation was due to the limited supply of clean water. They had to wait for a month until the barangay was able to provide them access to potable water. As a farmer and a fisherman, Kautin’s source of income was put on hold. “We couldn’t go back to our livelihoods because of the conflict in the area,” he explained.

Kautin and his family have experienced the struggle of leaving their home ang setting aside their livelihood for the past three decades. Until this day, he still worries and fears for that time that they would be forced to evacuate again due to another conflict.

Kautin’s family was one of the six hundred families that received non-food items (NFI) and hygiene kits and received training on hygiene and sanitation from Action Against Hunger’s emergency response funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID). ●


A young family from Pendolunan Marawi City fled to Malabang, Lanao del Sur when Marawi siege happened in 2017. This is the family of Sohairen Bangon. Sohairen is an 18 months old boy and 2nd child of Acmad Bangon and Juhaina Marohomsar. Their 1st son is also an under 5 years old boy. But life was difficult in Malabang, so they decided that Juhaina and her two children would better stay in Tuca, Madamba Lanao del Sur with her father. While Acmad will work as a tricycle driver in Malabang and sometimes he would visit his family in Tuca.

Juhaina, 22 years old, is a young mother who lacks guidance on how to take care of her children. Her son Sohairen was nutritionally screened by the Rural Health Unit (RHU) staffs and found out that this child has Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) earlier of year 2019. Prior to this screening, Sohairen was hospitalized due to Pneumonia. RHU Staff enrolled this child to treatment but became a defaulter. This is because Juhaina was non-compliant to the treatment of her son Sohairen. Whenever they were given Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) supplies, she gives portion of it to her 1st child. So Sohairen was not receiving the required nutrients pack in the treatment. Their poverty situation all the more aggravated the situation affecting the whole family with the head of the family not having a sustainable job and income enough to provide their basic needs.

Through the project “REACH: Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-Affected Populations in Mindanao”, Juhaina attended sessions on hygiene promotion, received hygiene kits and hyposol, and participated in nutrition education and psychosocial support. The REACH team organized a nutrition screening and nutrition education activity in Madamba last December 2019 in which Juhaina’s son, Sohairen, underwent nutrition screening and was still identified with SAM condition. To fully access the project’s health support, Juhaina supported her son on SAM nutrition management and treatment. In coordination with the Municipal Health Office, Sohairen was referred to RHU and started taking RUTF in December 18, 2019.

Since Juhaina’s family was found to be food insecure, she also accessed the project’s cash assistance for food amounting to Php4,320.00. The support enabled her to provide for her family’s food needs for a month, meeting each member’s required daily nutritional needs.

Sohairen’s condition was regularly monitored by the project team from the time he was enrolled in SAM treatment and finally in February 5, 2020, he transitioned to Ready-to-Use Supplemental Feeding (RUSF). “Tumaba na po ang anak ko (My son has gained weight),” Juhaina happily shared during one of the monitoring visits. This improvement was validated by the RHU Nurse saying, “Nag-improve na po ang weight ni Sohairen. Ngayon po itatransition na siya to RUSF (The weight of Sohairen has improved. He will now be transitioned to RUSF).”

This is just one of the stories of hope in saving children like Sohairen and his brother at the same time allowing the mother to eat well and be healthy in preparation for her 3rd baby delivery anytime soon, through the integrated humanitarian assistance provided by the REACH Project.

The Project “REACH” is funded by ECHO and implemented by the consortium Action Against Hunger, Oxfam, ACCORD, with CARE as lead. It aimed to address the unmet humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations in Mindanao. The project provided support in Food Security and Nutrition, WASH, and access to health services (Primary health care, nutrition and psychosocial support).●


The Pasundayag National Innovation Fair was held last March 29, 2019 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Pasig City in celebration of the different innovations on disaster resiliency that were crafted and honed for the entire year under the Tuklas project. This marks as the culminating event for the project as several Pasundayag Fairs were held across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Dennis O’Brien of Plan International Philippines, Kei Valmoria of the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC), Suresanathan Murugesu of Action Against Hunger, and Tim Bishop of CARE USA formally opened the national fair through a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event was graced by the presence of various innovators, agencies, non-government organizations, investors, and both local and international stakeholders and supporters.

In his closing remarks, Deputy Country Director of Action Against Hunger Philippines Mission, Mr. Suresanathan Murugesu, left the participating innovators an inspiring reminder to keep working hard and continuously improve disaster preparedness strategies through their crafts. “Help us bring these ideas to the communities for replication,” said Mr. Murugesu.

Action Against Hunger, together with Plan International, CARE Philippines, and Citizens’ Disaster Response Center put great efforts and focus on implementing the Mindanao Lab. The Tuklas Innovation Labs was supported by UK Aid, Start Network, and CDAC Network. ●


The school year 2017-2018 was made a lot more exciting for students in the Philippines with the launch of the Race Against Hunger. Promoted by Action Against Hunger and present in 28 countries, the campaign aims to create awareness on the problem of malnutrition to young people and empower them to help families suffering from hunger.

The campaign has three key moments. First is the awareness-raising session where an Action Against Hunger staff goes to the school to discuss the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines. Second, the students look for sponsors who will be willing to pledge an amount for each lap they would finish during the race. Students will collect this after the race. Lastly, the school puts up a race where students run for as many laps as they can.

“An important part of the campaign is creating awareness among the young people about the problem of hunger,” said Suresh Murugesu, Technical Coordinator of Action Against Hunger, “through them, they will spread our advocacy to their immediate family – parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, even friends. Such engagement will eventually lead to commitments from concerned citizens to support our projects in fighting hunger all throughout the Philippines.”

Five schools in Manila initiated the Race Against Hunger in their campuses: Muntinlupa School for Child Development, Philippine Cultural College – Tondo, The King’s School Manila, Philippine Cultural College – Caloocan, and the United Campus of Mahatma Ghandi and Australian International School.

For Elizabeth Carandang, Principal of MSCD, the race was a great opportunity for their faculty members and students to extend their help to other communities. “We were excited because we are not only reaching the barangays near to us but we are reaching out to other barangays who need our help. The children are excited to learn that they can also help little children by just participating in this race,” said Carandang.



She is not your average runner.

That is the best way to describe Katrina Candice “KC” Veran, a Grade 5 student from Muntinlupa School for Child Development (MSCD) where the first Race Against Hunger in the Philippines was held in July 15, 2017. KC is the 10-year old record holder for the highest amount a student was able to raise in sponsorship amounting to Php16,500.00 in pledges. Action Against Hunger interviewed her on how she did it.

What was your motivation in getting a lot of sponsors to pledge?

  • The reason I was motivated was because I really wanted to help the children who were hungry, who did not have food and who have a

lot of needs.

Who were your sponsors?

  • My Lolo, my Titas, my cousins, and my mommy & daddy. I would tell them that by sponsoring me, they will be helping people who do not have food.

How many laps did you finish?

  • 12 laps I think… No, it was 14 laps.

14 laps! Wow that is great! How did you feel after the race?

  • This is the first time I’ve joined a charity event and I felt happy because I knew that I would be helping people in need.

We will be having other Race Against Hunger events in 2018. What tips can you offer other children in getting sponsors?

  • Whenever a relative visits the house, I would immediately ask them to sponsor me on how many laps I can finish. Just go and find sponsors – anybody can be a sponsor!


One year after the Siege of Marawi started on May 23, 2017, an estimated 237,000 people are still displaced. While an estimated 164,000 people have returned to the city, “ground zero” or the site where the intense fighting occurred still remains closed.

The displaced population, many of which are suffering from psychological stress, are hardly receiving support from the international community. “We are talking about an intense unprecedented siege in the country that lasted five months that turned Marawi into a ghost town,” said Javad Amoozegar, former Country Director of Action Against Hunger Philippines, who led the emergency response projects when the armed conflict started. “Although the battle officially ended on October 23, 2017, seven months later the level of destruction made it impossible to return to ground zero and 237,000 displaced persons (an estimated 360,000 people initially left the city) still live in settlements or in host communities that can barely cover their basic needs: they depend on food aid and water purchased from private suppliers or supplied in tankers,” explained Benedetta Lettera, Desk Officer for Action Against Hunger Philippines.

“The delicate situation was further exacerbated when Tropical Storm Vinta made landfall in the areas where the evacuees were staying on December 22, affecting 175,000 people,” added Amoozegar. Lettera also mentioned that many farmers or people with peri-urban orchards were displaced, losing their livelihoods and source of food. “The siege completely broke the market dynamics: Marawi was the main commercial center and supplier of goods to the river communities of Lake Lanao. The economic impact of the armed conflict was that it completely destroyed trade,” she explained. Amoozegar warns of the risk of radicalization among the young people: “In the context of extreme poverty, they will find that joining jihadist groups to be an easy option. What happened in Marawi could resurface at any time or anywhere in the island of Mindanao. ●