LIFE AFTER THE SIEGE – MARAWI EMERGENCY RESPONSE

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. ●

CONSTANT DISPLACEMENT – MAGUINDANAO EMERGENCY RESPONSE

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). ●

STORIES OF CHANGE: INFLUENCING HEALTH CARE SEEKING BEHAVIOR THROUGH NUTRITION-SENSITIVE PROGRAMMING

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).●

TUKLAS INNOVATORS CONVERGE IN PASUNDAYAG NATIONAL FAIR

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. ●

RACE AGAINST HUNGER KICKS OFF IN THE PHILIPPINES

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.

 

A RUNNER’S PROFILE:

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!

237,000 PEOPLE STILL DISPLACED FROM MARAWI

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. ●

10 TUKLAS INNOVATIONS GET UNDERWAY IN MINDANAO

After a series of reviews done by the Tungo sa Kahandaan ng Pilipinas (TUKLAS) Innovation Lab, 40 out of 72 innovations were chosen for the final review. The final 40 and their ideas are now being supported as TUKLAS Innovators and Innovation Teams.

10 of these 40 innovations are now in the stage of developing its prototype in some Mindanao communities. These prototypes are: 1) DisP(ner) Bag, a weather-proof emergency bag that can be used for multiple purposes, such as a floater or tent; 2) Popularizing Indigenous Early Warning Systems, a system of documenting and popularizing indigenous knowledge on early warning for disaster risk reduction; 3) Bamboo River Embankment, a bamboo dike embankment to mitigate the impact of frequent flooding and soil erosion; 4) Matigam Kaw Iso: Mandaya Children’s Active Participation, an innovation on encouraging participation of children from hazard-prone, indigenous people communities in disaster risk management through a child-to-child approach; 5) Formulating Innovative Resiliency reduction program and manual; 6) Disaster Resiliency Fund, a community- managed, savings program for disaster preparedness activities of coastal communities; 7) People’s Initiative and Involvement in the Development of Technology (PINDOT), an offline mobile application for emergency reporting, and mapping of vulnerable families; 8) Promoting Cultural Innovation for Increased Resilience of Children, a facilitation of peace modules and cultural exchange to support the recovery of children affected by armed-conflict; 9) Growing Food, Saving Lives, use of urban gardening as an approach to community building and coping with post-disaster trauma among internally displaced persons from Marawi City; and 10) Early-Warning and Early Response Mechanisms for Armed-Conflict, a community-based mechanism to prevent and mitigate impact of armed-conflict and other human-induced disasters. In Filipino, ‘tuklas’ means ‘discover’, thus the TUKLAS Innovation Lab aims to identify innovative ideas and entrepreneurs across the country.

Hosted by Plan International and in partnership with Action Against Hunger, CARE, and the Citizens Disaster Response Centre (CDRC) which is a local civil society organization (CSO), TUKLAS has a collective experience of 174 years working from within the communities in the Philippines to improve emergency preparedness and response.

The TUKLAS Innovation Lab reaches out through networks of CSOs, community groups and leaders, businesses, academics, inventors and inspired youth to identify, test, and refine innovative ideas and methods to strengthen communities’ response and preparedness to disaster across the country, taking a bottom-up or user-centered approach to nurture, test, and scale promising models that will address gaps to improve emergency preparedness in the disaster prone country. ●

TASK FORCE BANGON MARAWI AWARDS ACTION AGAINST HUNGER

MARAWI CITY – Action Against Hunger Philippine Mission’s humanitarian efforts in response to the Marawi Siege was recognized during the closing ceremonies of Marawi Week of Peace, a week-long commemoration of heroism and unity during the conflict initiated on May 24, 2018 by Task Force Bangon Marawi, its member line agencies, and local government units.

The Iligan Base Team, headed by Ivan Ledesma, received a plaque of appreciation from Retired Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary of National Defense, and Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., AFP Chief of Staff. Action Against Hunger was the only International Non-Government Organization to receive the Task Force Bangon Marawi award. ●

RESTAURANTS AGAINST HUNGER: DISHES THAT FEED MORE

Chefs, restauranteurs, and foodies will once again get the chance to fight hunger this 2018 through Restaurants Against Hunger, a campaign that aims to create awareness and raise funds for projects fighting hunger in the Philippines.

The mechanics of the campaign is simple: from October 1 to December 1, participating restaurants offer dishes from their menu which are tagged as ‘dishes that feed more.’ Every time a customer orders a special dish, a portion of the profit goes to Action Against Hunger projects in various areas in the Philippines.

“Restaurants Against Hunger makes me realize that our craft goes beyond mere cooking, it also transforms into a stronger cause that enables us to have a chance to make someone’s future healthy,” stated Chef Roland “Lau” Laudico, the campaign’s ambassador in the Philippines. This international movement started during the World Food Day in France in 1998. Because of the success of the campaign, this was later launched in the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and the United States. As of writing, 13 countries around the world, including Italy, France, Colombia, Bolivia, India, Germany, Guatemala and the Philippines, are implementing it.

“The campaign is now on its 3rd year in the Philippines,” said Dale Nelson Divinagracia, Fundraising Manager for Action Against Hunger. “We initially launched it in 2016 coinciding with the burgeoning Manila food scene. Amidst the growth, we knew that chefs and restaurant owners were looking for ways to help stop hunger in the country. The campaign was the perfect avenue for them to

extend their reach.”

In 2017, a total of 103 restaurants joined the campaign and raised Php 683,737.00. The previous edition was supported by LTB Chef’s Association and sponsored by McCormick Culinary Philippines. Collaborators were Zomato and Spin Manila, Inc. “I’m on board for Restaurants Against Hunger, I hope that you will come on board too!” said Marla Moran, owner of Café Mediterranean and Wild Ginger. ●

VALUING PWD’S CAPACITIES IN MANAGING RESILIENT LIVELIHOOD OPPORTUNITIES

Epitacio, 53 years old and a father of three, has been living with optimism despite his physical deformities. He is a polio survivor, a disease that attacks the nervous system leading to paralysis. Despite his condition, Epitacio was determined to live like a normal person and strived hard to provide food and other basic needs to his family. He is an elected councilor of Barangay Balete and the federation president of Bayabas Special Persons Organization (BASPO).

“My husband is a good provider because he accepts carpentry works, shoe repair and did hair cutting just to provide our needs. Even both of us are working, still it is difficult to catch up the needs of our children,” says Morninggrace, wife of Epitacio.

As voice of persons-with-disabilities, he started the lobbying for an income generating project for BASPO years ago. He talked with

government agencies and private organizations about the condition of his members and their hopes to have an extra source of income. But because of limited funds, his requests were denied. Action Against Hunger introduced the concept of resilient livelihood under the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management – Climate Change Adaptation (DRRM-CCA) project funded by Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). BASPO was chosen based on their identified needs, existing capacities, availability of managed projects and recommendations of the Local Chief Executive.

“It was our first time to be involved in discussion like this asking about our needs, views and opinions on our desired livelihood. We

appreciate consultations and sharing like these as we realized that we are part of the community also, not as hopeless people but capable individuals that can contribute in any community undertakings,” explains Rene Dumanhog, treasurer of BASPO. After exploring various livelihood options suitable for persons-with-disabilities, a community-based mushroom production was chosen and formally started last April 19, 2018. As pilot, 30 members and immediate family members of BASPO were trained on tissue culture, spawn making, substrate making, bagging, monitoring and harvesting.

To date, an aggregate volume of 13 kilos have been harvested out of the 390 fruiting bags and gained about Php 2,600.00. Members

including Epitacio are appreciative of their efforts because they are beginning to savour the fruits of their labor. Initial profit was used for motorcycle maintenance that has been mobilized for rice straw gathering and other operational expenses like replenishment of fruiting bags.

To ensure resiliency during emergencies, a Community-Managed Savings and Credit Association (CoMSCA) was adopted to encourage the culture of savings among members. Part of the savings mechanism is to establish a social fund that will be pulled out in times of need aside from the individual savings. Epitacio further says that “I am hopeful that this livelihood project will help us augment our income to and to increase our participation as vulnerable group in disaster risk reduction activities of the municipality.”

Action Against Hunger is working closely with the Municipal Mayor’s Office, Municipal Agriculture Office and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) to expand the production facility particularly the construction of laboratory, incubation and sterilization areas. Trainings on financial management, product development and roll-out of savings mechanism are also pipelined to be implemented by month of May 2018 aside from marketing and product development activities. ●