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Promoting inclusive household decision-making to empower rural women

MINDANAO — Women and girls in rural communities have been providing invaluable contributions in development, particularly towards nutrition, food security, and building climate resilience. However, gender and development indicators have consistently shown that rural women and girls are generally more vulnerable to poverty and the impacts of climate change as compared to rural men and women in urban communities.

In 2019, Action Against Hunger Philippines with the guidance of our International Gender Desk conducted a gender analysis within our partner communities at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The results of the analysis showed that roles in Mindanao seem to have changed from traditionally assigned gender roles and responsibilities, with women now being more involved in productive activities. However, this does not seem to have reduced the allotted time women dedicate to reproductive work. With women spending more time on productive tasks, but not less reproductive ones, a significant increase in their overall workload was noted.

Door-to-door nutrition and hygiene promotion sessions in Lanao Del Sur | Photo by Theresa Cortes for Action Against Hunger (Lanao del Sur, Philippines © 2020)

The gender analysis also noted that although both women and men participate in income-generating activities and decide together on some key issues, key decisions like mobility, heritage, what specific work is assigned to each person, and the use of family land, etc. still fall under the decision of men. Evidently, this is one of the factors barring women’s access to income-generating activities since farming is considered the region’s main source of income. Agricultural labor like tending to the fields is mainly considered as the responsibility of men. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that men also present the highest percentages of agriculture knowledge.

Because of our commitment to mainstream gender equality in all our programs, we are aiming to maximize project outcomes while promoting gender empowerment. To do this, we plan to integrate interventions that are influencing household decision-making into existing food security & livelihoods programming.

HHDM Session in Calanogas facilitated by the project team | Photo by DRR-BHA Project Team for Action Against Hunger (Calanogas, Philippines © 2021)

Household decision-making impacts child health and nutrition in multiple ways. It influences underlying causes of undernutrition: decisions related to household production, household consumption, and caregiving practices. Household decision-making can also lead to improvements in women’s mobility; control of own time and income; men’s trust, confidence, and respect for women; women’s own self-confidence; and the sharing of household chores.

Photo by Rosa May Maitem for Action Against Hunger (Maguindanao, Philippines © 2013)

Using the Household Decision-Making (HHDM) Approach, we aim to shift household behaviors regarding decision-making and distribution of household work by spotlighting the work performed by women at reproductive and productive levels and adding more value to their contributions. The HHDM approach will hopefully encourage family members to contribute equitably—allowing each member to learn, cope, adapt and transform in the face of shocks and stresses and therefore increase household and community resilience in the long run.

“This innovative approach will enhance our FSL strategies making it more inclusive and gender transformative,” – Menchie Lacson

The HHDM approach is based on the household dialogue toolkit developed by Mercy Corps, which we’ve adapted appropriately to the context of Filipino communities, particularly in Mindanao. This was made possible through the support and guidance of Bishnu Bahadur Khatri, a seasoned international expert, and researcher on household dialogue along with human rights, child rights, social inclusion, gender-based violence, climate change, and gender equality among many others.

HHDM Session in Calanogas facilitated by the project team | Photo by DRR-BHA Project Team for Action Against Hunger (Calanogas, Philippines © 2021)

A Household Decision Making Approach Facilitator Guidebook is currently in the works, which we will be piloting through our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction project. In the meantime, the HHDM approach nonetheless has since been implemented following an online ‘training of trainers’ (ToT) on Family and Household Dialogue. The five-day training was facilitated by Bishnu Khatri last from April 8-12, 2021 and was participated by Action Against Hunger staff from the Philippines’ Manila head office, Cotabato field office, and international headquarters.

Action Against Hunger staff with Bishnu Khatri (top-right) during the last day of the HHD Training (April 12, 2021)

“This innovative approach will enhance our FSL strategies making it more inclusive and gender transformative, [We’re] grateful for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and expertise on this approach Bishnu,” says Menchie Lacson, the Food Security & Livelihoods (FSL) Coordinator and selected Gender Champion for Action Against Hunger Philippine Mission.

As we push for long-term development, we are hopeful that more women and girls in rural communities will have active involvement in decision-making and community participation through effective and inclusive household dialogues.

‘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.


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Launching the first Climate Outlook Forum for Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur DRR partners

MAGUINDANAO — Our disaster risk reduction (DRR) project focused on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) launched its 1st Maguindanao & Lanao del Sur Climate Outlook Forum last September 2, 2021.

In partnership with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the forum was facilitated online by Action Against Hunger’s Cotabato team. Charly Jamero, the Chief Meteorological Officer for the Ministry of Science & Technology – PAGASA, serves as the key resource speaker for the said activity.

Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger

A total of 58 people participated in the virtual forum—among these were representatives from the municipal and barangay government units, along with key agencies in BARMM. Members of the People’s Organization also attended the event. Some municipalities like Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Piang, and Rajah Buayan organized viewing sessions for individual participants that had limited or no internet connection in their respective households. A number of attendees who were not based in Maguindanao also joined the session.

Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger

For the activity, Ms. Jamero gave an overview of climate outlook. She then proceeded to discuss anticipated weather and climate updates in Visayas & Mindanao from September 2021 until January 2022.

“We want to level down, localize, and contextualize climate information and use it for decision-making. We hope that this climate outlook fora can be a means for our community members and decision-makers to utilize these learnings in improving our resilience-building strategies. We should be able to make an informed decision out of the climate information that we have.” Juan Blenn Huelgas, Action Against Hunger DRR Coordinator 

In a concise yet enlightening message, Juan Blenn Huelgas—current Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Coordinator for Action Against Hunger Philippines—emphasized the importance of using the information gained from the discussion in drafting local government plans and community decision-making. “We want to level down, localize, and contextualize climate information and use it for decision-making. We hope that this climate outlook fora can be a means for our community members and decision-makers to utilize these learnings in improving our resilience-building strategies. We should be able to make an informed decision out of the climate information that we have,” he said.

Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger

Delilah Chua, Head of Base for Action Against Hunger Cotabato Field Office, also attended the virtual forum and thanked all partners, participants, and facilitators for taking part in the first round of discussion on climate outlook.

BHA-DRR / Cotabato Team (Photo courtesy of Michael Ryan Queman)

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 Read more

USAID-funded DRR Project Strengthens Community Resilience by Empowering Women

We recognize gender inequality as both a cause and effect of hunger. Until now, there are communities where women have less access and control over resources while also having limited participation or representation in decision-making, therefore putting them at risk.

This is why one key strategy of our USAID-funded Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Project in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is empowering these women to strengthen their barangay’s resilience through community savings groups (CSG). The main goal of CSGs is to encourage and create a saving culture in the community while offering a unique financial opportunity for participating households.

Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger

Last month, 30 women from Barangay Gawang of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao participated in the Community Savings Group Orientation held by Action Against Hunger on June 16, 2021.  Because CSGs provide a level of financial security even without any access to formal banking services, all women gave their commitment to creating a savings group for the barangay. Once established, the collective savings can offer a safety net for the members’ households in times of disasters and other emergency situations.

A community savings group (CSG) is a community-based program where a group of vulnerable and at-risk persons in a community agrees to save a certain amount periodically and depositing the savings in a group account. Savings groups are a way for people without access to formal banking services to access some financial security. Savings groups are owned, managed, and operated by the members, using a simple, transparent method where groups accumulate and convert small amounts of cash into savings that can be used in times of crisis. This way, economic security is increased and financial services are brought closer to communities for promoting secure investment with savings.

The group can further decide to focus on savings or invest in personal or collective livelihood activities to improve household income. In most cases, the group also engages in giving loans. Moreover, not only does the CSG provide potentially better financial opportunities for families but also empowers the participants—in this case, the women of Barangay Gawang—as they engage in financial planning, decision-making, and active community involvement.

Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger

‘Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Areas 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 Philippines with the support of local government units and partner stakeholders.

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Action Against Hunger Unites Local Resilience Efforts with Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Agrarian Reform in BARMM

Photo courtesy of MAFAR-BARMM

Action Against Hunger Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (MAFAR-BARMM) on July 23, 2020, at the MAFAR Regional Office in Cotabato City, Maguindanao. The objective of the collaboration is to unite efforts in strengthening local resilience and within areas in the region that are greatly susceptible to natural hazards.

“Action Against Hunger’s mandate is to fight and to address food insecurity and nutrition insecurity, so I do believe that this MOU with MAFAR is key for us to jointly address issues that are affecting the most vulnerable in the BARMM Region in a collaborative and coordinated manner” Thierry Laurent-Badin, Action Against Hunger Philippines Country Director
During the online ceremonial signing, Thierry Laurent-Badin, Country Director of Action Against Hunger Philippines, talked about the importance of the established partnership in promoting the organization’s advocacy. “Action Against Hunger’s mandate is to fight and to address food insecurity and nutrition insecurity, so I do believe that this MOU with MAFAR is key for us to jointly address issues that are affecting the most vulnerable in the BARMM Region in a collaborative and coordinated manner,” said the country director.
 
Dr. Mohammad S. Yacob, Minister of MAFAR-BARMM, on the other hand, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating “I am happy to see this partnership, for me, it is a process of long engagement in the community and I am very grateful to continue the aspirations. I express my thanks to Action Against Hunger and we hope and pray that this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership.”
“I am happy to see this partnership, for me it is a process of long engagement in the community and I am very grateful to continue the aspirations. I express my thanks to Action Against Hunger and we hope and pray that this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership.”Dr. Mohammad S. Yacob, Minister of MAFAR-BARMM
 
Delilah Chua (Head of Cotabato Base) hosted the ceremony alongside Genaro Sanchez (Head of Project) and Gay Marie Aban (Human Resources Officer). Virtually present to witness the signing were Melinda Buensuceso (Operations Coordinator) and Jasper Llanderal (Head of Iligan Base).

Photo by Rhea Poliquin for Action Against Hunger

‘Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Areas 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 Philippines with the support of local government units.

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