PBA 2021: Converging efforts with local government and RHUs to strengthen health and nutrition initiatives in Mindanao

Limited access to quality health care has been one of the identified humanitarian gaps within remote areas even before the pandemic. This immediately took a turn for the worse when COVID-19 negatively impacted these health systems. Many primary healthcare services have become inaccessible due to the lockdown restrictions or overcapacity of patients. Conflict-affected communities─especially the poor, displaced, and those in other vulnerable conditions─are at greater risk more than ever.

This is why our Program-Based Approach (PBA) in Mindanao has been coordinating with rural health units to ensure that primary health services are available, sustainable, and easily accessed by vulnerable communities.

Since the second quarter of 2021, we have been sponsoring medical-dental missions of the local government with support funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Dental Services during the Health Mission at Lumbatan last August 23, 2021 (Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

A total of 1,202 people—collectively from Binidayan and Lumbatan of Lanao del Sur—participated in a series of activities from July 26 to September 2. Our nutrition screening activities were also integrated with the health mission to converge our health initiatives on the ground.

MUAC Screening during the Health Mission at Lumbatan on September 2, 2021 (Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

Following the nutrition screening, all individuals identified to have severe or moderate acute malnutrition were then referred to the RHUs to receive appropriate care and treatment. To supplement their nutritional needs, they will also receive financial assistance from our multi-purpose cash program.

Nutrition Awareness Session during the Health Mission in Binidayan on July 26, 2021(Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

Aside from these interventions, nutrition-awareness sessions were also held to refresh or heighten the participants’ knowledge of good health practices. In Binidayan, pregnant and lactating women (PLW) who are at nutritional risk also received hygiene kits and hygiene promotion sessions.

Hygiene Kit Distribution for PLWs at Binidayan during the Health Mission on July 26, 2021 (Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

Our efforts to stop and prevent hunger continues. We aim to fully protect, assist, and advocate for disadvantaged communities that are at greater risk to societal, environmental, and health crises.

The Program-Based Approach (PBA), otherwise referred to as ‘Multi-Sectoral Lifesaving Assistance to People Most Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Conflict, and Disasters ─ Mindanao Program 2021’ is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines.


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Real Life Heroes – Lyndon Arbes

For  Lyndon Arbes, being able to spark change and making a lasting impact in society is both his pride and joy. The drive to help others in need emanates from a propensity to put himself in the others’ shoes. This, he shares, is rooted in his personal experience during his humble beginnings.

Now working as the Deputy Head of Project for our MOVE UP Mindanao project, Lyndon shares with us the lessons he gained from his 22 years of working as a humanitarian worker, or rather, as a real-life hero.


What is your role in Action Against Hunger?

I am currently the Deputy Head of Project for the Moving Urban Poor in Mindanao Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 4) project. My role for the project is to manage, coordinate, implement, monitor, and evaluate all the activities in Action Against Hunger in strengthening the resilience of the urban poor against human, natural and climate-induced hazards. We do this by building and supporting the capacities of communities on resilient livelihoods. The project also advocates for the inclusion of alternative temporary shelters, technical assistance on camp management, social protection, and/or risk-transfer modalities in local government disaster risk reduction management plans.

Photo courtesy of Lyndon Arbes

How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?

I have been in the development work and humanitarian for 22 years now.

What motivated you to become a humanitarian worker?

Coming from a poor family, I fully understand how difficult life can be. I empathize with communities, especially with our farmers and other vulnerable sectors, who have experienced devastating impacts of disasters—losing livelihoods over and over, or grieving over lost lives.

Being a development and humanitarian worker is a noble work and profession that provides me the opportunity to give back to the people in need. Through my work, I am able to help others improve their socio-economic condition, protect their lives and livelihoods, and enabling them to withstand and bounce back after disasters. Seeing their faces brimming with so much joy is what inspires me most.

 

Why are you making this sacrifice?

We are all human and everyone deserves help. We need to care for others the same way we care for ourselves, and our families.

 

Photo courtesy of Lyndon Arbes

 

What have been the challenges to your work?

Working in the development sector is sometimes a very complex process considering that communities we work with have different social, cultural, and political contexts. So, sometimes you need to be creative and innovative in the ways you advocate them. Adding to this challenge is the current COVID-19 pandemic which brings us certain limitations. But we make our maximizing our efforts now more than ever in enabling communities to be more vigilant in case of potential crises, while at the same time learning to exercise caution against COVID-19.

What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?

Working with farmers and the most vulnerable sector of our community has always been my passion. Seeing them transform their lives with smiles on their faces gives me a sense of fulfillment, and also my source of motivation.

What are you most proud of?

In my 22 years of working with humanitarian organizations, what I am most proud of is being part of a community that is helping improve the lives of many with the utmost sincerity and passion. I am proud to have this as my legacy.

Just recently, we were able to mobilize around twenty-seven community savings groups in Kidapawan City with total savings, social funds, and livelihood amounting to 1.5 million pesos. These savings came directly from all the members, which they managed to accumulate in less than a year. It makes me proud how a change in their mindset and attitude has allowed them to achieve this milestone—not only are they financially literate and independent but they are also more prepared and resilient.

Photo by Jan Azucena for Action Against Hunger

What climate change impact have you seen with your own eyes?

Climate change is real, and it’s been happening not only now but even way back. If you saw on TV that the glaciers are continuously melting which is resulting in rising sea levels, this means changes in our climate patterns are now being characterized by extreme weather events. The fact that El Niño and La Niña are becoming more intense is one of the many shreds of evidence that climate change is real.

How are you taking action against climate change?

Climate Change is a global issue but solutions can be started right at the community level. There are plenty of ways we can do to fight climate change. One is to simply reduce our own carbon footprints. We can also plant more trees and advocate for change—change other people’s attitudes and be more caring towards our environment.

Photo courtesy of Lyndon Arbes


Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is an urban disaster risk reduction (DRR) project which aims to build resilience among urban poor communities in Mindanao. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 4—also known as MOVE UP Mindanao—is implemented by a consortium of partners consisting of Action Against Hunger PhilippinesPlan International PhilippinesCARE Philippines, and their local partner ACCORD Incorporated. Read more

Action Against Hunger provides emergency response equipment to Maguindanao

MAGUINDANAO — The municipality of Datu Saudi Ampatuan received a total of 745 various emergency response equipment from Action Against Hunger last August 27, 2021. This intervention is part of our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction (DRR) project at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which aims to strengthen the local resilience of hazard-prone communities.

The equipment were allotted to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management (MDRRM) Office, and five barangays namely: Dapiawan, Elian, Gawang, Kitango, and Madia. DSA Municipal Administrator Musib Tan, MDRRM Officer Rohanna Salik, and the Association of Barangay Chairpersons (ABC) President Anwar Kedtag received the emergency equipment during the short turn-over ceremony. The ceremony was also participated by representatives from each of the five barangays.

DSA Municipal Administrator Musib Tan shares a short message during the turn-over of emergency response equipment. (2021 © Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger)

“We are thankful for all the support—from capacity building on DRR and livelihood to the provision of equipment. These will help enable our response to disasters more effective,” said Musib Tan.


Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Area at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao‘ is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger.

Written by Michael Ryan Queman | Edited by Joyce Sandajan

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MOVE UP 4 featured in DILG-LGA Newsletter

Spotted: Our Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 4)—or also known as MOVE UP Mindanao Project— was featured in the 2nd Quarterly LGA Merit Newsletter!

The Local Government Academy’s (LGA) second quarterly newsletter for the year 2021 can now be accessed at the LGA website lga.gov.ph. The LGA releases monthly and quarterly newsletters showcasing its projects, programs, and activities, as well as best practices all geared towards local governance excellence.

The publications also highlight the stakeholders and partner agencies including the Local Governance Resource Centers (LGRCs), Local Government Operations Officers (LGOOs) and many more.


GRAB YOUR COPY HERE

 

 

Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is an urban disaster risk reduction (DRR) project which aims to build resilience among urban poor communities in Mindanao. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 4—also known as MOVE UP Mindanao—is implemented by a consortium of partners consisting of Action Against Hunger PhilippinesPlan International PhilippinesCARE Philippines, and their local partner ACCORD Incorporated.

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605 Displaced Families in Mindanao receive cash assistance to counter food insecurity

Photo by Juhaina Ebus for Action Against Hunger

MINDANAO — A total of 605 displaced families in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao received cash assistance amounting to 5,000 and 3,400 last August 18 to 20, 2021 during our Cash-for-Food payout, an activity under REACH Mindanao’s food security and livelihood (FSL) program.

The cash assistance is intended to support families who are at risk of facing food insecurity due to experienced protracted displacement. Local government units and agencies are already responding to these vulnerable communities, but because there are certain areas that would be deemed more susceptible to conflicts, calamities, and now the COVID-19 pandemic, these additional threats exacerbate the living conditions of internally displaced people. The situation they face can also further limit their financial resources, therefore making it more difficult to provide enough healthy and nutritious food for the entire family.

Cash Assistance Payout: Muslim woman holds cash paper bills while standing in front of REACH 2 project banner.

This household head successfully claims the Php5,000 during the cash payout for Datu Piang participating families. (Photo by Juhaina Ebus for Action Against Hunger)

Aside from the mentioned amount, each participating family also received a small allowance to cover the household representative’s travel expenses going to the payout center. Among the initial recipients of the cash support, 375 families were home-based internally displaced persons residing in Masiu, Lanao del Sur while the remaining 230 families resided in flood-affected areas of Datu Piang, Maguindanao. The goal of the cash assistance is to help affected families to meet the minimum food consumption necessary for each member.

IDPs in Masiu are no longer strangers to ongoing conflict and disasters. The Municipality of Datu Piang on the other hand is reportedly considered as a “catch basin” of several rivers coming from neighboring provinces. This makes the area more prone to flooding which can be easily triggered by heavy rainfall.

The payout activity was conducted in coordination with the municipal local governments of Masiu, and Datu Piang. REACH Mindanao will continue to roll out a series of food security & livelihood support programs for specific vulnerable populations in Mindanao.

(Photo by Al-king Dilangalen for Action Against Hunger)

The ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Mindanao Affected by Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ (REACH) Project is funded by the European Union and is implemented by ACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesCARE PhilippinesCommunity Organizers Multiversity, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc., Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP)United Youth of the Philippines-Women and Oxfam Pilipinas.

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Barangays in Davao de Oro receive early warning devices

Photo by Lea Anora for Action Against Hunger (2021)

DAVAO DE ORO — Just last August 13, 2021,  twenty (20) barangays in Maco and Mabini, Davao de Oro had received early warning devices from Action Against Hunger through our ProACT Project.

Weather patterns have become unpredictable due to climate change. Many communities in the area have been experiencing various weather events and calamities. Because of this, we wanted to ensure that these communities are well informed and duly prepared in the event of a disaster.

Photo by Lea Anora for Action Against Hunger (2021)

These early warning devices will be tested during community drills which are scheduled to occur within the months of August to September, during which increased rainfall will be expected.

Photo by Lea Anora for Action Against Hunger (2021)

This disaster risk reduction (DRR) support is part of our commitment to building resilient communities by supporting barangays to have efficient early warning protocols, while improving the information dissemination community members and other groups, coming from the barangay level or local government units (BLGU).

Photo by Keith Filipinas for Action Against Hunger (2021)

ProACT aims to strengthen the partner communities’ capacities with regard to climate change adaptation, promotion of food security, and also income generation. To do so, the project uses a value chain approach for 3,650 families affected by disasters in the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, and Davao de Oro.

The main goal is to improve disaster, climate resilience, and socio-economic conditions of vulnerable communities we work with.

 

‘Advancing Climate and Disaster Resilience Transformation in the Provinces of Agusan Del Sur, Surigao Del Sur, and Davao de Oro’ (ProACT) is a consortium project funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation or Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), and implemented by Action Against Hunger and Fundacion CODESPA.


Written by Vina Menez. Edited by Joyce Anne Sandajan.

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Hundreds of displaced families in Zamboanga City receive multi-sectoral cash assistance

On September 9, 2013, conflict broke out in Zamboanga City between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a rebel group, an event that displaced 109,000 people in the city alone.

Eight years after the Zamboanga Siege, more than 700 families are still living in transitory sites of Masepla, Rio Hondo, Asinan, and Buggoc and they face further setbacks when COVID-19 started. Many have been struggling with food insecurity after losing their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic.

Under our project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), we hope to support the remaining displaced residents through a Multi-purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) program.

During the first round of the payout last July 28, an initial 167 families had received 5,100 pesos which can be used for livelihood, hygiene, health, or shelter purposes among many others. Some of the participants who had already received the cash assistance have reportedly spent it on either capital for their small business, medicine and health services, or shelter purposes such as rental payment and purchasing of kitchenwares and solar lamps.

This marks the first MPCA activity of the project as the team will be conducting scheduled payouts in the coming weeks.


Our ‘Multi-Sectoral Lifesaving Assistance To People Most Vulnerable To The Covid-19 Pandemic, Conflict, and Disasters’ is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

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Local Government Academy, MOVE UP Consortium ink partnership agreement to promote disaster resilience

From left to right: Local Government Academy (LGA) Executive Director Thelma Vecina, CARE Philippines Country Director David Gazashvili, ACCORD Inc. Executive Director Sindhy Obias, Action Against Hunger Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator Juan Blenn Huelgas (representing Country Director Suresh Murugesu), Plan International Philippines Country Program Manager for Disaster Resilience Chrisnobel Cruz (representing Country Director Annie Locsin), LGA Assistant Director Esmeralda Daphne Purnell, and MOVE UP Project Consortium Manager Roger Cabiles sign the Partnership Agreement today during the virtual ceremonial signing program. (Courtesy of MOVE UP 4 Consortium)

28 July 2021 – The Local Government Academy (LGA) and the Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP) Project signed a partnership agreement as part of their commitment to strengthen disaster resilience.

Cooperation between the capacity and development arm of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and MOVE UP includes the review of various L!STO Operations Manual and conduct of capacity development interventions to local chief executives and other relevant stakeholders involved in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) activities.

The MOVE UP project, funded by the European Union, aims to help in institutionalizing urban resilience and disaster preparedness mechanisms for urban poor communities across the Philippines. The project is implemented by a consortium of international non-government organizations led by Action Against Hunger Philippines, with Plan International Philippines, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD.

During the event, LGA Executive Director Thelma Vecina said the ceremonial signing is highly symbolic as it coincides with the celebration of the National Disaster Resilience Month and is aligned with the LGA’s vision to build resilience through local government capacity-building activities.

“Today’s partnership is really significant and symbolic as we celebrate the National Disaster Resilience Month this July. For us in the LGA, this is really a great contribution to our efforts to build resilience of the local governments,” she said.

Furthermore, LGA Executive Director Vecina expressed that the LGA believes that increasing disaster resilience requires collective will and action from and among the communities, the local leaders, and stakeholders. “This is one among our many efforts to translate these commitments into actions. Hopefully, this initiates more cooperation in the future that will strengthen our nation’s resilience towards disaster,” she added.

Meanwhile, Juan Blenn Huelgas, Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator of Action Against Hunger Philippines underscored the important role played by local government units in our collective effort to reduce the impact of disasters.

“Our local government units are at the forefront of mitigation, prevention, response, and management of these risks and vulnerabilities. It is right that we strengthen their capacities on resilience so that our urban poor population can withstand and manage the impact of natural and human-induced disasters, the very objective of the MOVE UP Consortium,” Huelgas said.

Child-centered organization Plan International Philippines’ Country Program Manager for Disaster Resilience Chrisnobel Cruz, meanwhile, emphasized the effects of disasters on the most vulnerable population, particularly girls and young women.

“Disasters could be detrimental to our effort to protect the rights and welfare of girls and young women. Disasters, and the crisis that comes with it, subject young women to the continual risk of violence, child marriage, and early and unplanned pregnancy, and threaten to roll back gains made in girls’ access to education,” Cruz said.

A strong partnership between the government and the civil society is needed to continuously increase the capacity of LGUs to prepare for and respond to disasters amid the mobility restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, CARE Philippines Country Director David Gazashvili said.

“As of last year, our webinar series entitled the Resilience Knowledge Exchange Series (RKES) reached 95 academic institutions, 80 CSOs, 83 national or regional government agencies, and 27 private-sector organizations. All of this of course would not be possible without the dedicated and passionate work of our partners and funders in the implementation of various development programs across the country. Therefore, we greatly cherish and foster the partnerships and collaborations with the likes of our consortium members and the DILG-LGA,” he said.

The Partnership Agreement, ACCORD Executive Director Sindhy Obias said, is a collective promise to share expertise to support local government units who are on the frontline in DRRM activities.

“As we sign this partnership agreement today, we view it not just a piece of paper but an expression of our collective commitment to work together towards the common goal of supporting our partners, particularly the local governments who are on the frontline when it comes to dealing with disasters, among many other related concerns on the ground. Being part of the MOVE UP consortium, ACCORD is very excited to work with DILG-LGA and share our experiences in resilience building,” Obias said.

Watch the Virtual Ceremonial Signing

Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is funded by the European Union and implemented by a consortium of partners consisting of Action Against Hunger Philippines, Plan International Philippines, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


For inquiries or concerns, contact: Claudine Complativo,

Communications and Advocacy Specialist (MOVE UP Project)  | 0906-589-8180

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union, or the consortium members.

Neither the European Union nor any of the consortium members can be held responsible for them.
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MOVE UP 4 Mindanao strengthens support to partner communities this National Disaster Resilience Month

MOVE UP 4 reinforced the partnership with the Provincial Government of Cotabato by providing technical assistance in updating their DRRM plan during the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Planning Workshop held last July 14-15, 2021 at Parkland Suites, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato. The workshop was conducted in line with the 2021 National Disaster Resilience Month’s theme, “Tamang Pamamahala’t Kahandaan, Kaalaman at Pagtutulungan sa Sakuna at Pandemya’y Kalasag ng Bayan.” 
Roger Cabiles, MOVE UP 4 Consortium Manager and Head of Project for Action Against Hunger Philippines, held a discussion on ‘Shock-Responsive Social Protection and Resilient Livelihoods in DRRM Planning.’ Aside from tackling the importance of supporting disaster-resilient livelihoods, the discussion also emphasized the need to have effective, responsive, and inclusive social protection for communities.
Roger Cabiles, Jr. presenting in front of the seated participant with the project area presentation flashed on an overhead television on his right.

In photo: Roger Cabiles, Jr. shares updates on the MOVE UP 4 projects within intervention areas.

The MOVE UP consortium manager also shared updates on various MOVE UP livelihood activities in Kidapawan City. Among the examples were the establishment of Community Savings Groups in addition to providing livelihood assistance to at-risk households, promoting crop insurance, and other risk transfer mechanisms.
Three representative individuals from Action Against Hunger talk with Cotabato PDRRM Officer, Abril Espadera

In photo (L-R): Lyndon Arbes (Deputy Head of Project for Action Against Hunger), Delilah Chua (Action Against Hunger Head of Iligan Base). Roger Cabiles, Jr. (MOVE UP 4 Consortium Manager & Head of Project for Action Against Hunger), and Abril Espadera (Cotabato Provincial DRRM Officer)

MOVE UP 4 Mindanao continuously supports local government units in building the resilience of our partner communities. It aims to strengthen the disaster preparedness, response, and management capacity of both the national government and local government units (LGU).

Written by: Joyce Sandajan
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union, or the consortium members. Neither the European Union nor any of the consortium members can be held responsible for them.

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Emergency Preparedness Helps Action Against Hunger Team Escape Mt. Apo Landslide

KIDAPAWAN CITY – Twelve (12) Action Against Hunger staff members were left stranded after a landslide had blocked a part of Mt. Apo Highway last July 16, 2021. The incident was reported to have occurred sometime in the morning after a series of heavy rainfall in the area.

No casualties were reported and the staff members managed to safely go over the landslide area before the Kidapawan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) rescue vehicle arrived and assisted them back to the city proper. The staff members who experienced the ordeal were part of the MOVE UP 4 Project team in Kidapawan and visiting staff from Action Against Hunger Philippines’ Manila Head Office.

The teams were already on their way back in two separate vehicles after conducting field visits in Barangay Illomavis when they reached the roadblock caused by the landslide. Being the first to witness the scene and having no alternate routes going to the city proper, the stranded staff decided to go over the mound of debris by foot.

The landslide covered a portion of the road, making it impossible for vehicles to pass throigh.

Photo by Roger Cabiles, Jr. for Action Against Hunger

“[The situation] gave us an opportunity to reflect about humanitarian workers, that we are dispensable,” shared MOVE UP 4 Consortium Manager and Head of Project Roger Cabiles. Despite facing a predicament, the team remained calm and quickly followed emergency protocol. “Being careful is really important as well as assessing risks and hazards and knowing what to do if a disaster happens,” he added. Deputy Head of Project Lyndon Arbes then coordinated with Kidapawan CDRRMO Head Psalmer Bernalte, who facilitated the quick rescue response.

“[The situation] gave us an opportunity to reflect about humanitarian workers, that we are dispensable…Being careful is really important as well as assessing risks and hazards and knowing what to do if a disaster happens,” he added.

Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office

Clearing operations on the highway began immediately thereafter. According to Psalmer Bernalte, soil movements have gradually been covering portions of the highway two months earlier, prompting the city to conduct preventive measures against potential landslides.

For the MOVE UP 4 team, the experience further strengthened their commitment to work with partner LGUs and communities through disaster risk reduction, emergency response, and resilience building.

“These risks and hazards are normal to the communities we serve, and they experience it in their everyday lives… our work in building the resilience of our communities continues,” said Roger Cabiles.

Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is funded by the European Union and implemented by a consortium of partners consisting of Action Against Hunger PhilippinesPlan International PhilippinesCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.

 

Related stories:

Philippine News Agency – Int’l NGO workers narrowly escape Mt. Apo landslide
GMA News – 12 NGO employees na naipit sa landslide, nasagip


Written by Joyce Sandajan

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union, or the consortium members. Neither the European Union nor any of the consortium members can be held responsible for them.