The ‘Inclusive Disaster Preparedness for Local Resilience in Areas at High-Risk of Natural and Human-Induced Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao, Philippines’ or iPrepared Project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger
With the support of the USAID, an estimated 7,259 people affected by Typhoon Odette (Internationally named Rai) in Surigao del Norte received immediate life-saving aid through our Typhoon Odette Emergency Response.
Since December 16, our teams have been going through different barangays in Surigao City (Sabang, Ipil, and the island barangay of Talisay), and the Municipality of San Francisco (Oslao) to identify and provide the basic needs of families greatly affected by the typhoon.
“A lot of people still need basic life-saving assistance which needs to be urgently addressed in order to prepare them for early recovery,” says Maricel Vina Menez, Action Against Hunger Philippines Project Officer. She is one of the team members who has been immediately on the ground 24 hours after Typhoon Odette made landfall in Surigao del Norte.
“We hope to reach 2,000 families before December ends,” she adds. Through the funding of the United States Agency for Internation Development (USAID), we were able to provide emergency food assistance, hygiene kits, and non-food items like kitchen utensils, sleeping mats & blankets.
For Immediate Release | Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Office of Press Relations ([email protected])
The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing $200,000 in immediate assistance to support people affected by Super Typhoon Rai in the Philippines. The typhoon–known locally as Typhoon Odette–brought torrential rains, causing widespread flooding, landslides, and damage to homes. Many cities across the Philippines have lost power and some bridges and roads remain impassable. People are seeking shelter in evacuation centers and cannot safely return home yet.
With this assistance, USAID is partnering with Action Against Hunger to provide food, water, hygiene supplies, and other relief items in Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Island in the Caraga region to help people affected by the storm. USAID is also supporting the restoration of water supply services and sanitation facilities, as well as hygiene promotion activities to keep people safe and healthy.
In addition, USAID works year-round to help communities in the Philippines prepare for and be more resilient to natural disasters. Through existing programs, USAID partner, the UN World Food Program, is transporting relief supplies, including enough food provided by the Government of the Philippines to feed tens of thousands of families, and deploying mobile operations vehicles to support emergency telecommunications. USAID partner, the International Organization for Migration, is helping to manage evacuation shelters and provide critical relief supplies, including USAID heavy-duty plastic sheeting to meet critical shelter needs for 4,800 families.
USAID has disaster experts in the Philippines and in the region who are coordinating response efforts with the Government of the Philippines and humanitarian partners. Our thoughts are with the people of the Philippines who have been affected by this disaster.
For the latest updates on U.S. humanitarian assistance in the Philippines, visit: www.usaid.gov/humanitarian-assistance/philippines
Read USAID’s official press release here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Angela’s involvement with Action Against Hunger started back in 2014 when she became part of our Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Emergency Response in Northern Iloilo. Now, she is a Project Assistant for our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction (DRR) project in BARMM, and a Real-Life Hero!
Get to know Ma. Angela Nalaunan and what sparked her motivations to become a catalyst for change.
What is your role in Action Against Hunger?
As project assistant for the “Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Areas at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao” project, my responsibility is coordinating with community partners and leaders, especially with the local government at both barangay and municipal levels. I also facilitate training sessions and provide awareness and information to the community with regards to disaster risk reduction, and resilient livelihood.
How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?
I’ve been working as a humanitarian for a decade now. I was involved with Action Against Hunger before, from 2014 to 2015, as PhATSS Officer for our Typhoon Yolanda Emergency Response in Northern Iloilo.
What motivated you to become a humanitarian worker?
Being a research student when I was in college, I was exposed to different communities in different situations. After seeing and understanding what they were experiencing, it gave me a sense of purpose— to become a catalyst for change. That’s why I became a humanitarian worker.
Why are you making this sacrifice?
Working with different kinds of people is a challenging job. But being a vessel of hope, sharing one’s expertise, and seeing people with a smile on their faces is one of the most rewarding things in this world.
What have been the challenges to your work?
There are times when work is a bit out of control and things don’t go as planned. But, what is important is that you overcome these obstacles because you want to be a part of something good.
What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?
Always go back to your purpose, remind yourself why are you are here, and you will just overcome those challenges.
What are you most proud of?
Being a catalyst for change for a lot of people.
What climate change impact have you seen with your own eyes?
Being in a DRR project I have seen and expose to a lot of natural disasters like floods, typhoons, and earthquakes. Seeing this community affected by this calamity is heartbreaking, it took away their property, livelihood, and worst their loved ones, and it is very devastating.
How are you taking action against climate change?
By sharing awareness, facilitating training, and giving information regarding Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Actions that the community could understand.
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.
As humanitarian workers, our field teams have time and time again shown great dedication at ground level in reaching even the most isolated communities. One great example would be Abubakar “Bhaks” Balabagan who has always given his best efforts despite the risks and challenges.
Get to know Bhaks and what makes him one of our Real-Life Heroes!
What motivates you to become a humanitarian worker?
My purpose, which is to help people in the community who are suffering during disasters, and saving lives as well.
Why are you making this sacrifice?
It makes me fulfilled. I am happy to help vulnerable people in the community through Action Against Hunger and be able to have a role in providing free and direct access to beneficiaries – because it is one of the organization’s principles.
What have been the challenges to your work because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic is very challenging because the risk of contracting and/or transmitting the virus can happen anytime and anywhere if not careful. Because of this, we have to limit gathering beneficiaries in small areas for activities like hygiene promotion sessions.
What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?
My motivation comes from the people I serve. When I became a humanitarian worker, I became more conscious of the people’s daily struggles and have a deeper understanding on how different their situations are. For instance, many of them are striving to survive the economic downturn during this pandemic.
What are you most proud of?
The thought that the work that I do, in some way or another, will have a ripple effect that will impact the lives of the people I serve.
Bhaks has been working with Action Against Hunger for more than 4 years. Now, he is currently part of our Typhoon Rolly (Goni) Emergency Response Team as one of the Project Assistants.
The Emergency Assistance to Typhoon Affected Communities in Catanduanes and Albay Province, Philippines is funded by by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, and CARE Philippines. Read more
Sixty-seven-year-old Carlos Tesorero had one word in mind when asked how he felt when he saw what was left of his home – painful. Carlos, or “Tatay Carlos” as they called him, had a house along the shore of Barangay Guinsaanan in the Municipality of Baras, Catanduanes.
On the morning of November 2, 2020, a day after Typhoon Rolly made landfall, he, along with the other families living near the sea, returned and saw that the typhoon’s strong winds and heavy rains had completely destroyed their houses. “After the storm had passed, at around eight in the morning we went back to check our houses, and everything was gone… It was painful,” said Tatay Carlos. Hollow blocks, scraps of wood, metal, and scattered belongings were all that was left of their homes.
“After the storm had passed, at around eight in the morning we went back to check our houses and everything was gone… It was painful.”
The residents of Barangay Guinsaanan were no strangers to such weather conditions, especially for those residing along the shore. In fact, in less than two weeks, the province had experienced the impacts of three typhoons – from Quinta to Rolly to Ulysses. Amongst the three, it was Super Typhoon Rolly that greatly affected their homes and livelihoods.
Tatay Carlos worked as a tour guide since 2015. He would accompany tourists to Binurong Point, one of the top tourist destinations in the province and about an hour’s hike from his barangay. Back then, he would get two visitors in a normal week, earning him 200 to 300 pesos. During summers, there would be more tourists and he would get twice the amount of visitors. This all changed when the lockdown was implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were okay before. But when the pandemic happened, it was hard because I had absolutely no income,” Tatay Carlos shares.
Tatay Carlos and his fellow tour guides looked for alternative sources of income. He went on to extract and sell dried coconut meat taro leaves, papayas, or other crops, earning just enough to get by. Unfortunately, most of the crops and coconut trees were damaged after the consecutive typhoons. He then started to collect dried wood and would sell them for firewood. He would earn enough to buy his food for the day. Tatay Carlos said he tried to apply for manual labor jobs like construction but was unsuccessful. “No one was accepting me because I was old, unlike the others,” he lamented. “I guess this is how it is when you get older, it’s more difficult to get a job.”
In photo: Tatay Carlos happily smiles with his pet inside his temporary home.
After the typhoons, the sea level had risen significantly, making the land where his home once stood into a no-build zone. Like the other families who lived there, Tatay Carlos now has to start from scratch. Fortunately, he was allowed to reside in a small building that was previously used as a barangay hall for the meantime.
With all that he has been through, what saddens Tatay Carlos is going through these ordeals alone. His wife, daughter, and grandchild visited a relative in Bulacan last year, but because of travel restrictions and financial constraints, they have not been able to return to Catanduanes since then. “If there was no pandemic, they would want to go back here,” he said. He tries to keep in contact with them regularly, but their conversations are often limited due to weak cellular phone reception.
Despite living alone, he continues to be in good spirits by regularly talking to his neighbors. Tatay Carlos also enjoys the company of a white kitten which he keeps as a pet. He spends his day going to the sea to catch fish for his own consumption since these are usually too small to sell. Some days, he checks if there are any crops to be harvested and sold. Tatay Carlos’ daily food is augmented by relief packs from various organizations. Mineral water is sold in the barangay, but since he has no income, he would get drinking water from the deep well.
In photo: Inside Tatay Carlos’ temporary home, his beddings on one side and the relief goods he received on the other.
Tatay Carlos works hard each day in order to provide for himself and perhaps earn extra income to save. “What we really need is money,” he says with a weak laugh. “We received noodles and canned goods as relief, so food is all set. We got some soap too, but those ran out quickly. I have to admit, sometimes I loan items from the sari-sari store items like cooking oil or laundry soap, and I pay them back once I manage to sell some of the firewood I collect,” he adds further.
He was excited when he found out that he was selected to be a beneficiary for Action Against Hunger’s multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA). On January 27, Tatay Carlos was one of the 60 beneficiaries from Barangay Guinsaanan who received cash assistance amounting to 5,200 pesos. The MPCA was conducted as part of Action Against Hunger’s Emergency Assistance to Typhoon Affected Communities in Catanduanes and Albay, which is co-implemented by CARE Philippines. The project is made possible through the funding of the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA). The project is expected to reach a total of 14,500 people through MPCA alone. The goal of the program is to enable the most vulnerable households affected by Typhoon Rolly to meet immediate food and basic humanitarian needs.
“My number one dream is to have a house of our own again,”
With the assistance he received, Tatay Carlos remains hopeful and positive. “My number one dream is to have a house of my own again,” he shares. The makeshift house he is currently residing in is being sold at 30,000 pesos and he hopes to earn and save enough money so he can buy the lot someday. He also adds that one of his priorities as well as to have his daughter graduate as this was his dream for himself when he was younger. “Even though she now has a child of her own, I want my daughter to finish her studies,” he says.
In photo: Tatay Carlos at the Multipurpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) payout orientation at Barangay Guinsaanan, Baras. (Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger)
Despite losing both his home and livelihood, Tatay Carlos smiles as he shares the many ways he tries to make ends meet on a daily basis. Knowing he has to start from nothing pains him but says he is thankful that there are people who are willing to extend kindness through various forms. He may have been through a lot the past year, but his family and the support from his community keep him going.
The Emergency Assistance to Typhoon Affected Communities in Catanduanes and Albay Province, Philippines is funded by by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, and CARE Philippines.