Farmers affected by Typhoon Odette attended a farmer training on Good Agricultural Practices and Organic farming in the municipalities of San Benito and Burgos on the island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte last December 2022.
The training is facilitated by trainers from the Rice Specialists Training Course (RSCT). The participants from barangays Orok and Talisay learn approaches on how to rebuild their agricultural livelihoods and increase their farm yields through sustainable and safe methods.
Among other things, they learn about the importance of intercropping and how to make and apply organic fertilizers and pesticides. They also learned how to transfer their newfound knowledge to others.
After the training, they will facilitate sharing what they learned with other farmers in their communities.
Photos by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | December 2022, Siargao, Surigao del Norte
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CAPALAYAN, SURIGAO CITY — Erna Crisologo, 35, is proud to be a rice farmer. Growing up in a family of rice farmers she has lived in the middle of the rice fields her whole life. Besides the rice field bordering their home, Erna and her husband Ruben Cabalan, 35, also own a small coconut plantation higher up the mountain.
The rice paddy near Erna and Ruben’s home. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)
In December 2021, Typhoon Odette raged across the Philippines leaving a trail of destruction along its path. Erna and Ruben’s home in barangay Capalayan, a rural area on the outskirts of Surigao City, was completely washed away, along with their rice plants and coconut trees.
“Our rice plants were totally washed away, our coconut trees damaged. We had no more source of income, no source of food.”
In the aftermath of the typhoon, Erna, Ruben, and their daughter Shekanaiah, 8, found shelter in the school nearby. The school functioned as an evacuation center. The first days after the storm, the situation was dire. The center was overcrowded and the families were hungry. It took almost a week for food supplies and other relief goods to arrive because the roads were unpassable.
With no home to return to, Erna and her family stayed in the evacuation center for 2 months. “I was very stressed that time due to our situation,” recalls Erna, “Our rice plants were totally washed away, and our coconut trees damaged. We had no more source of income, no source of food.”
Erna cries as she recalls their experience during and after Typhoon Odette (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)
Erna was heavily pregnant with a second child, which was due in February. Sadly, the stress took a toll on her body. On January 23 Erna had a miscarriage. “My baby is over there,” says Erna through her tears, pointing at a small grave next to the rice field. “That’s where we buried him. A boy. We named him Anton.”
Thankfully, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Erna’s family received donated housing materials, which they combined with leftover planks from their old house to build a new home.
The newly-repaired home of Erna and her family. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)
Once her family had a roof over their heads again, Erna and other typhoon-affected farmers in barangay Capalayan attended a training on good agricultural practices and organic vegetable production, organized by Action Against Hunger. Erna learned how to make and apply organic insecticide and fertilizer and how to improve their dyke construction. “Before we were making our dykes larger and higher,” explains Erna, “but the trainer told us that if you make the dyke too big, it will attract mice who will make it their home. It should be like this, just high enough to prevent the water and fertilizer from flowing away.”
Erna also joined a training on financial literacy and wrote a business plan to access 15,000 pesos cash assistance. She used the funds to buy a tools like sprayer for the organic fertilizer, a shovel, a raincoat, rubber boots, organic rice seeds and to pay for labor costs for land preparation. “I feel very happy and excited to start planting rice again,” says Erna.
“I learned that it is very important to save so that we will not be hungry if a disaster comes. We are very thankful that Action Against Hunger gave us funds to restart our business. Now we have no debts to repay and we can start saving immediately.”
In addition to the training sessions and cash assistance, Action Against Hunger coordinated with the Philippine Coconut Authority to provide seed nuts to the farmers for restoring their coconut plantations. Erna and the other beneficiaries take turns weeding and watering the seed nuts in the nursery until they are ready for transplanting.
Erna with her fellow co-op members. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)
The project’s livelihood support measures are implemented in cooperation with the local farmer cooperative, where Erna volunteers as finance officer. Her mother was one of the founders.
“My mother’s passion is also my passion: serving our co-farmers. Even though we are poor, we are able to help other people,” says Erna.
Erna at the co-op. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)
Three months after planting, the rice will be ready for harvest. Erna plans to invest some of their earnings in buying pigs as an additional source of income. The family already owns three pigs which Ruben feeds and washes every morning, while Shekanaiah laughs in delight at the sound of their squeals.
Ruben washing the pigs while Shekainah observes. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)
Erna also wants to open a savings account. “I learned that it is very important to save so that we will not be hungry if a disaster comes. We are very thankful that Action Against Hunger gave us funds to restart our business. Now, we have no debts to repay and can start saving immediately.”
The USAID-funded project supports families like Erna’s to recover from disaster and rebuild fulfilling lives. Erna smiles contentedly, “We are doing well now. Not just well, we are doing good.”
Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022
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Humanitarian organizations will be launching a photo exhibit in Siargao next week to raise awareness about the impact of Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) and the concerted efforts of residents and various groups in rebuilding the affected communities.
The photo exhibition dubbed “The Last Mile,” which will open on August 15, 6 p.m. at the Siago Beach Resort in General Luna, Siargao Island, just a few days before the commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day (August 19).
The event is organized by non-government organizations and local government units working on the Typhoon Odette Response. The aim of the event is to urge the national government and other stakeholders to not forget those most vulnerable in times of disaster.
It will feature almost a hundred images captured by organizations who implemented the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EU-ECHO)-supported emergency response for the survivors of Typhoon Odette: ACCORD, Action Against Hunger, Care Philippines, Humanity & Inclusion, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc., National Rural Women’s Coalition, Oxfam Pilipinas, Plan International, Save the Children Philippines, and Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya (SIKAT) Inc.
European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron will be giving a message at the opening event of the exhibit, followed by presentations by the participating organizations.
“We want to showcase these powerful images to show just how devastating typhoons are to marginalized and remote communities in the Philippines. We also want to show what we can do together to save lives and reduce the risks and impacts of disasters,” said Oxfam Pilipinas Country Director Lot Felizco.
“With climate change, we expect more intense typhoons to hit the Philippines. We hope the exhibit will also give people hope that something can be done and is being done to strengthen our communities against future disasters and to help them recover from Typhoon Odette,” she added.
CARE Philippines Country Director David Gazashvili said the exhibit will also show the achievements and challenges that residents and humanitarian organizations face eight months after the devastation of Typhoon Odette.
“The exhibit shows how the quick and substantial funding from the EU-ECHO, the power of communities, women and men, boys and girls working together and collaborating with humanitarian actors have effectively addressed urgent humanitarian needs, especially of those who need the most assistance. But it also brings to the surface the challenges of prioritizing disaster-preparedness, risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaption,” he added.
EU-ECHO’s funding of the Typhoon Odette emergency response has enabled the provision of emergency services to almost half a million individuals in Bohol, Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental, Palawan, and Surigao del Norte through the implementation of two consortia: one led by CARE, with ACCORD Inc., National Rural Women’s Coalition, Plan International, and Action Against Hunger; and another led by Oxfam Pilipinas and jointly implemented by Save the Children and Humanity & Inclusion (HI), together with local partners SIKAT Inc. and IDEALS Inc.
The joint efforts of the groups resulted in the distribution of food and livelihood assistance to 70,643 individuals; water, sanitation and hygiene packs for 75,394; protection assistance for 147,549; shelter provision for 72,902; health services for 68,317; and “education in emergency” assistance for 41,205.
Besides attending the photo exhibit, the EU ambassador will also be visiting Pilar in Siargao Island to observe EU-ECHO-funded activities such as the “Education in Emergency” component of the project in Caridad Elementary School. As part of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response, the school’s teachers received training, supplies and a multi-purpose learning space where “return to learning” sessions are being held. The consortium also assisted in the construction of the multi-learning space and the repair of the damaged classrooms, which will also be turned over next week
For the coming months, the groups will continue to provide the same support for the most affected communities in Bohol, Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental, Palawan, and Surigao del Norte.
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A family’s livelihood is a means of securing necessities in life. During disasters and humanitarian emergencies, livelihood is one of the most affected areas, thus affecting families. Almost five months after Typhoon Odette, families in Siargao are still trying to bring theirs back.
Before the storm
The community relies on agricultural produce. Leah’s husband, Julito, asks for coconut shells from copra owners to make charcoal since they do not own a farm. He then sells the charcoal and brings 800 to 1,000-peso income a day. Sometimes, they only have 300 pesos when raw materials are scarce.
After spending on food and other necessities, Leah would use the spare as capital to buy goods for their small sari-sari store.
In photo: Leah fills her basket with goods after receiving the cash assistance (Photo by Aliana Gene Sarmiento for Action Against Hunger)
Losing two birds with one disaster
When the area was placed under Typhoon Signal No. 3 last December 14, the family evacuated to a nearby school and left their house and store for hours in fear for their lives.
Leah and her husband came back three days after to find their store toppled and the goods buried in the mud. Leah said her heart sank at the sight of it. She burrowed through the debris to save the undamaged products just so she could still have items to sell.
Her husband however was left jobless after Odette had wiped away hectares of the coconut farms.
“Akong taglig-on ang akong kaugalingon.”
“I try to remain strong,” says Leah Compra-Navales, after their family survived Typhoon Odette. Makabangon-bangon na man ginagmay. “We are coping up, slowly,” she added even though they have lost their livelihood to the typhoon.
Restoring the local economy as a community
Leah’s family is among the 52 households from Barangay Libertad in the municipality of Sta. Monica that received cash assistance for livelihood restoration. Action Against Hunger’s Typhoon Odette Emergency Response in Caraga gave 10,150 pesos for each affected household in Siargao alone. This is done through the funding of the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and support from our consortium partners. The assistance under the Emergency Recovery Market System (ERMS) component aims to assist households to re-establish their livelihoods and restore the local economy.
Along with others affected within the community of Libertad, they also received non-food items, hygiene kits, and cash assistance of 5,150 pesos per household for food supplies from Action Against Hunger previous USAID-funded activities.
In photo: Leah receives the cash assistance during the ERMS payout. (Photo by Aliana Gene Sarmiento for Action Against Hunger)
A step closer to livelihood recovery
After receiving ERMS cash assistance, Leah immediately used the money to purchase goods from a local general merchandise store. She filled her baskets with canned goods, sugar, condiments, laundry soap, and more products they could sell. She then filled the display racks in their store with more goods.
In photo: Leah fills her basket with goods after receiving the cash assistance (Photo by Aliana Gene Sarmiento for Action Against Hunger)
Leah said that with the capital they can earn a small steady income every day, and they will not worry about food in the meantime. She is thankful for the opportunity to restart their small business through the help of Action Against Hunger and other organizations.
In photo: Leah’s daughter sits in front of their freshly-stocked store. (Photo by Aliana Gene Sarmiento for Action Against Hunger)
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“I want to be a doctor so that I can help people who are victims of disasters,” said 11-year-old Marilou “Monique” Consigna.
Seeing in her own eyes how Typhoon Odette swept her community in Barangay Sta. Paz in San Isidro, Siargao, Monique wants to inspire and influence others so that future generations of children will make a difference.
Monique is 11 years old and currently studying 5th grade in Sta. Paz Elementary School in the Municipality of San Isidro. Her father died last January of 2022 due to sickness, and her mother which is a day care teacher, is now the sole provider for their family. She has six siblings, three of whom have already started their own families.
In the midst of the typhoon, her family evacuated to her sister’s house on the other side of Brgy. Sta Paz. Because of the severe gusts and heavy downpour, they were terrified, appalled and sobbing. For them, it felt like the end of the world at the time. She realized at that point that she was still a child who wants to live life to the fullest. She stills wants to play like any other children and her life should not end there. When they returned home, they were devastated to see that their home had been completely wrecked by the fallen coconut trees and some of parts of their roofing were removed. Despite of what happened, she is still thankful that all their family members were safe and that they were still alive.
She promised to herself that she will work hard in her studies, she particularly enjoys studying English.
Someday, she wants to help her family and community. She wants to be a doctor so that she may aid catastrophe victims. She will use her life to inspire and influence others so that future generations of children will make a difference.
With the support of UNICEF Philippines, Monique’s family was one of the typhoon-affected families who received access to safe water through emergency WASH kits.
Our Super Typhoon Emergency WASH Response in CARAGA is funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (UN CERF), the Republic of Korea, and the Government of Japan through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines. Read more
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“I still remember how hard the wind and rain were that night. The children were crying out of fear.”
These were the words of 34-year-old Geraldine Quire-Quire as she recalls their night at the evacuation center when Typhoon Odette (internationally named Rai) made landfall in Siargao on the 16th of December 2021. As a mother, her family’s safety is her top priority.
Already pregnant with their third child, Geraldine had to take care of their two children and her disabled aunt by herself in the wake of Odette’s rampage. Geraldine’s husband was away in the city working as a watchman at the time.
The intensity of the typhoon was a horrific experience for the children, according to her. To make matters worse, they went home to find that the typhoon had partially damaged their house.
Months later, Geraldine finds some comfort in the life-saving support they received different organizations and government agencies. They are one of the families in Barangay Opong in Taganaan, Surigao del Norte who received water, sanitation, & hygiene materials from UNICEF Philippines through Action Against Hunger’s Super Typhoon Emergency WASH Response in Caraga. According to Geraldine, some of the items will prove to be useful when she gives birth.
Geraldine also participated in the hygiene promotion sessions of Action Against Hunger. After hearing reminders on COVID safety and how to practice proper hygiene and sanitation, she was eager to teach her children these hygiene habits.
In photo: Geraldine teaches her eldest daughter how to properly wash hands with soap and water based on what she learned from Action Against Hunger’s hygiene promotion sessions. (Photos by Abdul Alim Talusob for Action Against Hunger)
As of July 18, we have reached 81,957 people in Surigao del Norte with life-saving WASH support. Aside from giving access to safe water and sanitation services, our goal is to ensure that families like Geraldine’s adopt and sustain proper hygiene practices.
Our Super Typhoon Odette Emergency WASH Response in CARAGA is funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (UN CERF), the Republic of Korea, and the Government of Japan through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines
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GENERAL LUNA, SIARGAO — Jomel Flores, 31 years old, a member of the LGBT community, and her family were among the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who were severely impacted by Typhoon Odette’s fury in the islands of Siargao last December 2021. According to her, it was the most horrifying and distressing experience she’s ever had so far in her life.
Rai made its landfall on December 16, 2021 bringing torrential rains, violent winds, floods and storm surges. Jomel and her family took refuge at Anajawan Elementary School in the Municipality of General Luna. They had been warned that the typhoon would be powerful, but when it came, it was significantly more powerful than the locals had anticipated. They were astonished, scared, and afraid when the wind began to blow erratically, pelting them with heavy showers. During that time, children and adults were screaming and crying and all she could do at that second was to pray harder that it will come to pass.
Their experience in the evacuation facility was really difficult, she says. With COVID-19 still a threat, it worried her that there was no social distancing, and they could only use one comfort room.
After spending three days at the evacuation center, they returned home only to find out that their house had been partially destroyed, with some of their roof gone, causing their personal belongings to become damp and damaged. This rendered Jomel speechless and all she could think at that moment was to cry. Despite the fact that it was the saddest and most agonizing event she had ever had, she was still thankful that all of her family members were safe and alive. “That was the most important thing, material stuffs may be replaced, but life will never be replaced,” she says.
It’s been months since Typhoon Odette, but Jomel still sheds tears every time she remember the horrific experience they went through. Despite being one of the most frightening experiences they’ve had, Jomel is thankful that all of their family members are alive and safe. “That’s the most important thing. Material stuff come and go, but one’s life can never be replaced,” she says
Her hope for the future is to become financially stable and to open a large ihaw-ihaw (barbecue) store to support her family. She also wants to make a modest contribution to her community by offering inexpensive healthy meals. She aspires to be the change she wishes to see in the world.
The Flores family is among the thousands of affected families in Surigao del Norte who were given life-saving water, sanitation, & hygiene support immediately after Typhoon Odette made landfall on December 16.
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“Alam ko kasi yung hirap sa tubig dito sa amin. Lalo na ngayong bumagyo, hindi kami siguradong malinis yung tubig mula sa balon…Ginagawa ko ito ‘di lang para sa pamilya ko, kundi para sa buong baryo namin dahil alam ko yung hirap namin sa tubig rito.”
I know how difficult the water situation is in our area. Especially after the typhoon, we’re not sure if the water from the deep well is clean. I [volunteer] not only for my family but also for our whole village because I know how hard it is for us to get water here.) – Daisy A. Jumandos, Monitoring Volunteer, 39 years old and resident of Barangay Magsaysay, General Luna, (Siargao Islands, Surigao del Norte)
Daisy Jumandos and her family were one of the residents of Barangay Magsaysay, General Luna in the islands of Siargao caught in the eye of Super Typhoon Odette when it made landfall on December 16, 2021.
In photo: Daisy Jumandos | Photo by Adam Daniel Lacson for Action Against Hunger (2022 March 03, Surigao del Norte, Philippines)
According to 39-year-old, their family received news of an incoming storm, but were clueless of its strength and magnitude. Daisy shared the horror that she, her husband, and their three children had endured after being trapped in their home when Odette was at its strongest. “Hindi na kami nakapaghanda o nakatakbo. Biglaang dumilim yung buong paligid na hindi na namin makita kahit ang mga kapitbahay. Napakalakas ng hangin kaya di na rin kami nakalabas ng bahay. Nagsiliparan ang bubong namin.’ (We could no longer prepare for it nor evacuate. It suddenly became dark outside, so much so that we couldn’t even see the neighbors. The wind was so strong that we could not get out of the house. Our roof flew off.)”
According to her, they thought that they weren’t going to make it out alive. “Sabi ng panganay ko, ‘Ma! Kalian kalian ba ito titigil? Nag-iiyakan na kami at akala namin ay heto na ang katapusan namin. (My eldest [child] said, ‘mom, when will this stop? We were crying and we thought it was the end of us.),” Daisy added.
After Odette, the situation of the Jumandos family, like many others affected, was bleak. “We endured [our situation] for a while,” she explained. Their family already did not have a regular source of income since the pandemic. So, when they needed to prioritize saving up for house repairs—distilled water or octane for cooking became necessities that they could no longer afford.
“I know how difficult the water situation is in our area. Especially after the typhoon, we are not sure if the water from the deep well is clean… It is important for me to have clean water here in the community, that is what drives me to handle the water situation here. I am proud that I was chosen as a volunteer because I want to do something for our community,”
As one of the parent-leaders in their barangay, Daisy volunteered to help monitor the water bladders. “Alam ko kasi yung hirap sa tubig dito sa amin. Lalo na ngayong bumagyo, hindi kami siguradong malinis yung tubig mula sa balon… (I know how difficult the water situation is in our area. Especially after the typhoon, we are not sure if the water from the deep well is clean,)” were Daisy’s sentiments.
Photo by Arjay Gaylon for Action Against Hunger
She further shared about her motivation and how she takes pride in her volunteer work, saying “importante kasi sa akin na may malinis na tubig kami rito sa baryo, iyon nagtutulak sa akin na alagaan yung tubigan rito. Proud rin ako na napili ako bilang volunteer dahil gusto kong may nagagawa ako para sa community namin. (It is important for me to have clean water here in the community, that is what drives me to handle the water situation here. I am proud that I was chosen as a volunteer because I want to do something for our community.)”
“My family offers support in other tasks. For example, if I have chores at home, the children will help manage [the water bladders],”
Daisy also breaks the bias on gender roles as she takes on and delegates different tasks both inside and outside their home. She shared that after Typhoon Odette, she has been hands-on in repairing their house. She mixes cement and helps in carrying the materials needed for their repairs. When asked if she finds it challenging, she said that, “kaagapay ko ang pamilya ko sa mga gawain. Halimbawa, kung mag ginagawa ako sa bahay, tumutulong mga anak ko sa pag-asikaso sa tubigan. Hindi naman it istorbo dahil alam kong para sa aming lahat ito eh. (My family offers support in other tasks. For example, if I have chores at home, the children will help manage [the water bladders].”
For Daisy, gender equality in the household can be achieved when men, women, boys, and girls can truly communicate and understand each other. In any aspect of decision-making in their lives, Daisy shares that it is important to discuss and share opinions openly, as well as have equal voices when it comes to making plans. It is a sign of mutual respect.
In photo: Daisy Jumandos | Photo by Adam Daniel Lacson for Action Against Hunger (2022 March 03, Surigao del Norte, Philippines)
Not only motivated by her family, Daisy also shares she gets inspiration from her neighbors. “Ginagawa ko ito ‘di lang para sa pamilya ko, kundi para sa buong baryo namin dahil alam ko yung hirap namin sa tubig rito. (I [volunteer] not only for my family but also for our whole village because I know how hard it is for us to get water here),” she added.
Around 650 people in Barangay Magsaysay are now able to access potable water for free through the newly installed water bladders.
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Super Typhoon Odette (internationally named Rai) left thousands of families in Caraga with limited access to clean water and proper hygiene facilities last December 2021. So much so that open defecation has grown rampant in some communities due to the lack of available latrines.
Together with UNICEF, we have been inspiring and teaching communities the value of good hygiene in keeping children and families healthy during times of calamities.
In photo: WASH Project Staff and community health volunteers review the proper handwashing technique through demonstration in the Municipality of Del Carmen. | Photos by Benjie Montilla, Adam Daniel Lacson, Victoria Valderama and Abdul-Alim Talusob for Action Against Hunger (2022 March 18, Surigao del Norte, Philippines)
From March 15 to 18, community health volunteers and rural sanitary inspectors from all 32 barangays of the municipalities of General Luna, Burgos, San Benito and Del Carmen in the Siargao Islands took part in the water, sanitation, & hygiene (WASH) training organized by Action Against Hunger through the support of the UNICEF and UN CERF.
“This re-orientation regarding sanitation can help prevent the spread of diseases since some of the people have been practicing open defecation,” said one of the participants. According to them, it has been a while since they started new activities about educating their neighborhood.
In photo: WASH Engineer explains and demonstrates the water quality testing activities of Action Against Hunger to selected Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) from the Municipality of Gen. Luna. | Photos by Benjie Montilla, Adam Daniel Lacson, Victoria Valderama and Abdul-Alim Talusob for Action Against Hunger (2022 March 15, Surigao del Norte, Philippines)
The participants shared what they know about water contamination and water-borne diseases, all while talking about the importance of sanitation, and common hygiene practices.
Team members of our Super Typhoon Odette WASH Emergency Response proceeded to discuss in more detail the topics concerning water quality testing, community-applicable methods to purify and store water, dangers of fecal-oral transmission, and proper hygiene techniques. Additional discussions on preventing COVID-19 were also conducted. The communities were also given tips on conducting education sessions, and new methods to pique the community members’ interest.
In photo: Training participants planned and presented their Activity Plans regarding WASH education sessions in Mun. of Del Carmen. | Photos by Benjie Montilla, Adam Daniel Lacson, Victoria Velderama and Abdul-Alim Talusob for Action Against Hunger (2022 March 18, Surigao del Norte, Philippines)
Most of the invited barangay participants have identified misconceptions regarding water quality and the use of water purifiers. Others focused on household methods to purify water, even during emergency situations. Initially, their health promotions focused community-led discussions to reduce open defecation, as well as methods to reduce cases of schistosomiasis, better waste management to reduce dengue, and hygiene promotion targeting the youth and lactating mothers.
At the end of the training, each barangay created their own WASH-related activity plan that they could implement and share in their own communities. Each activity contains topics from the discussion, but they were given the leeway to discuss topics that concern their respective areas.
By building the capacities of our local partners in health and WASH, we are hoping to reach around 3,500 people through the education activities of the health volunteers in General Luna alone.
Photos by Benjie Montilla, Adam Daniel Lacson, Victoria Valderama and Abdul-Alim Talusob for Action Against Hunger
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/UNICEF_AAH_2022-0317_Adam-Lacson_WASH-Training-CHVs_Siargao-14-scaled.jpg16952560Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2022-05-17 06:08:542022-05-27 04:34:38For cleaner and healthier communities: UNICEF and Action Against Hunger train volunteers on hygiene and health
SURIGAO DEL NORTE — Reynaldo Gemparo, Jr. or ‘Jun’ as he’s known by everyone, dropped out of school after finishing the third grade at 13 years old. Since then, he’s been helping his father earn extra income for both of them. Jun is the youngest son of his namesake, 69-year-old Reynaldo Gemparo, Sr. Together, they live in Barangay Magsaysay of the Siargao Islands. Jun helps his father in their day-to-day chores especially if it involves lifting heavy items.
When our team first met him, he had just refilled a water container from the newly installed water bladders in their barangay. Siargao was severely affected by Super Typhoon Odette (internationally named Rai) after making landfall in the Philippines last December 16, 2021.
Before the landfall, the Gemparos had evacuated to their neighbor’s house but the strong winds nearly wiped out that home too. Eight of them were packed in the comfort room as the storm wrecked the roof and all parts of the house. In the middle of that chaos, Jun said he saw fear in the eyes of those around him, including his father. They felt helpless as the wind raged above their heads. After that ordeal, the father and son soon realized that their home and livelihood had succumbed to the typhoon. Despite the devastation, Jun is thankful that they survived unscathed, and the fear quickly subsided.
The harsh typhoon had not only damaged several water pipes but also polluted their deep-well water source. After the storm, access to potable water became a problem. The water from the community’s deep well started tasting bad. It wasn’t until our water, sanitation, & hygiene (WASH) engineers tested the source and eventually confirmed that the water was indeed contaminated and unsafe for consumption.
To get clean water for drinking and cooking, the residents of Barangay Magsaysay use either boiled rainwater or opt to buy filtered water sold at 50 pesos per gallon. However, with summer around the corner, they know they would have to resort to buying water instead—an additional expense to their daily necessities. When two new water bladders were installed in their community, the Gemparo’s and the rest of the residents now had less to worry about.
Through the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Central Emergency Fund (UN CERF), potable water was easily made available through the Super Typhoon Odette Emergency WASH Response implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines in Caraga. After refilling the water container, Jun made his way back to their relative’s house where he and Reynaldo Sr. are now temporarily residing while they gradually work their way back to their normal life.
To help support their small family, Jun participates in crab fishing which then became their main source of income. Prior to Typhoon Odette, Jun would usually earn 200 pesos a day from catching crabs. On good days, he sometimes earned up to 1,000 pesos from tourists. After losing their boat to the typhoon, the father and son are left with no source of income. Nowadays, they rely on donations, financial support from relatives, and their remaining savings.
At his age, Jun already knows how to step up and be the head of the household. When asked about his dreams, his eyes lit up as he quietly replied, “makabalik sa eskwela” (to go back to school). He went on to add that he wants to learn another skill so he can have a good job in the future.
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/UNICEF_AAH_2022-0307_Adam-Lacson_Gemparo-Interview_Magsaysay-Siargao-1-scaled.jpg19192560Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2022-05-13 09:08:582022-12-13 09:09:14Stories from the Field: Jun Gemparo
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