Almost four months after Typhoon Odette, the central and southern parts of the Philippines are faced with another mishap when Tropical Storm Agaton (internationally named Megi) had left almost 307,500 people displaced.
Heavy rainfall had left Maguindanao flooded for two weeks since April 7, 2022. This has caused a tremendous impact on the health and livelihood of families living in all 14 barangays in Mamasapano—especially in accessing and maintaining hygiene and health protection.
In photo: Barangay Lusay, Mamasapano (Photo courtesy of Mamasapano Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Office)
With funding support from the European Union Humanitarian Aid, the REACH project launched an emergency kit distribution last April 21 to support almost 1,250 flood-affected families in Maguindanao. The distribution was facilitated by Action Against Hunger and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).
Many of the participating families rely on agriculture as their main source of income. Now that crops have been damaged by the flooding, they worry that the lack of sustainable income will deprive them of access to their health and hygiene needs.
Working closely with the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Office (MDRRMO) and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Mamasapano, we identified persons with disabilities to be prioritized in the said distribution. A total of 250 families were able to receive hygiene kits.
The selection of PWDs was advised by the MDRRMO and MSWDO due to the group’s increased vulnerability to health risks brought about by the flooding. In Mamasapano alone, more than 4,000 families are reportedly affected by the storm.
A day before Typhoon Odette (internationally referred to as Typhoon Rai) made landfall in the Philippines, more than 400 residents of Barangay Bilang-bilangan evacuated from their island community. Grace Obguia and her family were among them.
BOHOL — Grace never imagined that their living situation would change completely overnight. Together with her husband and three children, they spent the night of December 15 at Tubigon Cultural Center located in the mainland area of Tubigon Municipality.
Around 5:40 pm on the 16th of December 2021, Typhoon Odette was ravaging the nearby municipalities of Carlos P. Garcia and Bien Unido.
More than two months have passed but Grace still gets teary-eyed whenever she recalls the ordeal they had faced. “We could hear the winds howling and my children wouldn’t stop crying,” she shares. “All I could do was pray hard for everyone’s safety.”
Their anxiety continued to build up when the first floor of the cultural center became flooded due to the storm surge. This forced them to transfer to the second floor of the building despite the heavy rain. They stayed there for several hours waiting for the storm to pass while being completely drenched from the floodwater.
After spending two days in the evacuation center, they went back to the island only to be greeted by further dismay. What was once paved with quaint homes and vibrant coconut trees is now filled with Odette’s wreckage. The Obguia family’s home that stood along the shoreline was completely washed out. Disheartened and without a roof over their heads, the family decided to clear some of the debris and spend the night along the shore.
“We could hear the winds howling and my children wouldn’t stop crying,”
Within the next few days, Grace’s family found some comfort through the support of various people and organizations. Food assistance was readily available for many of the affected families. They also received cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which they partly used to purchase basic shelter materials. This allowed them to rebuild a modest home, this time a bit farther from the shoreline.
Bilang-bilangan is a quaint island located in the Municipality ofTubigon, Bohol. Surrounded by clear blue waters, many residents like Grace and her husband mainly relied on fishing for their livelihood. After the typhoon, they did not have a regular source of income because their fishing nets were all damaged. When food packs became scarce, they would catch mussels and other shellfish for their personal consumption. In rare cases, Grace would borrow some money from her friends in the mainland so she could buy for the needs of their 3-year old child.
Grace is thankful for any chance that she could save money. Action Against Hunger, through the Typhoon Odette Response of the EU-funded REACH project, provided her a hygiene kit that included soap, toothbrush, and other hygiene products that would last for a month, sparing her expenses on keeping her family clean and sanitary.
Photo by Roussam Dilig for Action Against Hunger
Despite the ordeal that she and her family have been through, Grace smiles as she thinks about all the help they have received since the calamity. She is hopeful and remains positive that there will only be better days ahead.
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Juhaina Ebus, our Protection Assistant for the REACH Project, chooses to #BreaktheBias through empowering women in vulnerable communities. She does this by engaging them to participate in active decision-making. Her passion is advocating for people’s rights and giving help to those who need it the most. This is one of the many reasons why she’s certainly one of our Real Life Heroes.
Get to know Juhaina and her inspiring take on being a humanitarian worker:
What is your role in Action Against Hunger?
I conduct assessments on the protection needs or gaps in the communities I serve and advocate for their rights. I’ve also been raising awareness on how to live a safe and healthy life during this COVID-19 pandemic while providing emergency humanitarian assistance when needed.
Juhaina in one of the Legal Mission activities of REACH in Lanao del Sur. (Photo courtesy of Juhaina Ebus)
How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?
I have been in this industry for more than 3 years. My first job with Action against Hunger was as a Psychosocial Support Assistant under the Marawi Siege Emergency Response project funded by the USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in Cotabato City back in 2018.
From then on, I have responded to different emergency interventions such as Maguindanao Armed Conflict Response in 2019 as WASH Assistant; COVID-19 Response in Kidapawan in 2020 as a Hygiene Promotion Assistant. Since last year, I’ve been working as the Protection Assistant for the ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ project or REACH.
What motivates you to become a humanitarian worker?
Seeing smiles on their faces, having to hear different stories, and helping without expecting anything in return are some of the reasons why I find my work with the vulnerable population to be fulfilling.
My main motivation has always been my passion-driven attitude towards them—to contribute good lasting changes in terms of their behavioral, spiritual, & emotional aspect in looking at life. I also learned to be more patient and understanding of the fact that each of us has our own capacities.
Photo courtesy of Juhaina Ebus
Why are you making this sacrifice?
I pursued this path because it is my passion. As a registered social worker, I made sure to expose myself to the realities on the ground and further improve my skills depending on the evolving needs of the community. Life is never simple but helping improve the lives of others day by day is a work that I passionately enjoy.
What have been the challenges to your work?
Being away from my family is challenging but I always remind myself that sometimes independence means pursuing your passion by helping those in need and gradually contributing to making the world a better place.
What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?
To be able to really feel and see the lasting change on the overall social development of the beneficiaries and the underserved communities.
In photo: Juhaina (wearing black) conducts an orientation for the participants of the legal mission activity in Lanao del Sur. (Photo courtesy of Juhaina Ebus)
What are you most proud of?
Being a part of Action Against Hunger is a blessing because I can really say that there is an improvement in the fight against hunger & malnutrition within vulnerable communities.
How do you #BreaktheBias in your line of work and/or on a daily basis?
I will equally treat everyone with respect regardless of gender preference and will always be open to working collaboratively without prejudice.
Imagine a gender-equal world. What do you see?
A gender-equal world is a world wherein everyone is treated fairly, regardless of gender or religion; a gender-equal world equates to a healthy society.
In photo: Juhaina (wearing black) conducts an orientation for the participants of the legal mission activity in Lanao del Sur. (Photo courtesy of Juhaina Ebus)
TUBIGON, BOHOL — Dennis Frontera, a 45-year-old father of two teenagers, was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes almost a year ago. Before he was always full of energy, but that changed when his condition eventually led to renal failure. While he has since been receiving medical treatments, Dennis knew he was already due for a check-up.
His last consultation in December 2021 hadn’t been easy. Dennis had to be isolated for a couple of days at the hospital which unfortunately was at the same time that Typhoon Odette was wreaking havoc in his community at Barangay Bilang-bilangan. This experience made him hesitant to go back to the health facility.
Medical Mission in Barangay Bilang-bilangan for people affected by Typhoon Odette. The activity is organized by Action Against Hunger through the EU-funded REACH Project. (Photo by Roussam Dilig for Action Against Hunger)
Dennis received further assistance through cash support which he can use to cover expensesfor medicines and laboratory tests.
With the support he receives from his family and other organizations like Action Against Hunger, Dennis is hopeful that he will recover sooner than later. For the sake of his wife and children, he is optimistic that he will return to the energetic man that he was before.
Dennis is one of the 60,625 individuals that are expected to benefit from the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response of REACH.
Typhoon-affected residents of Barangay Bilang-bilangan queue for a health consultation during the medical mission organized by Action Against Hunger through the EU-funded REACH Project. (Photo by Roussam Dilig for Action Against Hunger)
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We make sure that COVID-19 vaccines reach those who need them the most. Since last year, our COVID-19 Vaccination Response under the REACH Project has been supporting the local government and health units in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao so that more people in remote and disaster-affected communities are vaccinated and protected against the coronavirus.
Door-to-door visits in Barangay Sapa, Bayang, Lanao del Sur. (Photo by Veronica Avila for Action Against Hunger)
We are going door-to-door to raise vaccine awareness, traveling by land or by water one community at a time with the support of the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid. Recently, we have mobilized Community Based Information Groups (CBIGs) to support the health workers of our partner rural health units. Together with the CBIGs, we will be intensifying our awareness campaign on COVID-19 vaccination while increasing the pre-registrations of A2 and A3 priority groups.
30 community volunteers from the 34 barangays participated in the CBIG Orientation which was held at Barangay Casim Lumbaca-Ingud in the Municipality of Masiu, Lanao del Sur last January 13. Members of the Association of Barangay Chairpersons (ABC) in Masiu were also present.
In photo: CBIG Orientation with MHO in Masiu. (Photo by Veronica Avila for Action Against Hunger)
CBIGs have very important roles. The CBIGs will be doing household visits and community dialogues to conduct vaccine and other health-related orientations. Their most crucial role is to provide overall assistance to their respective barangay health units and vaccination teams.
As of January 2022, we have covered 45,376 people through REACH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Response activities.
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Flora Cuaton, 57, lost their home and livelihood in the distant island barangay of Mantatao, Calape in Bohol province due to Typhoon Odette (internationally named as Typhoon Rai).
“We don’t know how long it will take us to build back all that we lost because we have to start from scratch and right now, we have nothing,” says Flora. She and her husband used to own a small retail (locally called sari-sari) store in front of their house which was situated just by the island’s dock. Their small business was good then but has now been reduced to only broken items and debris.
Flora points to where their previous house and sari-sari store used to stand. | Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)
Before the typhoon, Flora lived with her husband, four grandchildren, and a 35-year old daughter who has a disability. They are now staying with the family of their other child while their house is yet to be repaired. This makes two families—a total of 13 people—living under one small and cramped partially damaged house.
Flora and the rest of her extended family now only rely on relief goods to get by while living in difficult conditions and having no current source of income.
The piles of wood, broken items, and other debris remain from what was once Flora and her family’s house. | Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)
With the support of the European Union, her family is one of the 227 typhoon-affected households in Mantatao who received food packs including 50 kilograms of rice, and non-food items such as kitchenware and sleeping essentials through the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response.
Food packs with sacks of rice and NFI kits are lined up along the entrance of the barangay which is just by the dock of the island. | Photo by Joyce Sandajan for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)
Barangay Mantatao is one of the islands in the Municipality of Calape. It takes a 25 to 30-minute boat ride from the town proper of Calape going to Mantatao island. Aside from being geographically isolated, many houses in Mantatao had been totally damaged by Typhoon Odette leaving many residents in great need of humanitarian support.
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“As humanitarian workers, it felt good to see the people’s smiles when they received the sacks of rice, groceries and the kitchen and sleeping kits that were provided,” said Mary Amy Gagalac, the Head of Project of our Typhoon Odette (internationally named Typhoon Rai) Emergency Response in Bohol under the EU-funded REACH Project or the ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Populations in Mindanao and the Visayas Affected by Conflict, Disasters, and the COVID-19 Pandemic.’
Residents of Barangay Ugpong in Loboc, Bohol line up to refill their containers during one of the water trucking sessions provided by the REACH – Typhoon Odette Emergency Response implemented by Action Against Hunger.
We have been working to identify the needs of typhoon-affected communities in Bohol within days since Odette made landfall on December 16, 2021. Immediate life-saving aid through emergency kits and water trucking services have since been provided by REACH in the municipalities of Loboc, San Miguel, and Calape through the efforts of our teams on the ground.
A resident carries a refilled container after the water trucking service in Loboc, Bohol. | Photo by Melinda Buensuceso for Action Against Hunger (Bohol, Philippines)
“They expressed their gratitude to us and to ECHO. One of the recipients from Barangay Ugpong whose house was totally destroyed by the typhoon was in tears upon receiving the relief goods,” Amy shares.
Vince, one of our Project Assistants, hands over a food kit to one of the typhoon-affected households in Barangay Camias, Calape, Bohol.
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One of the goals of REACH is to establish a safe and inclusive environment for conflict and disaster-affected communities while focusing on those who are most vulnerable to these threats.
To make this a reality, a series of Protection Trainings were conducted last July 2021 where 60 participants from the municipalities of Masiu, Bayang, Butig, and Lumba Bayabao in Lanao del Sur attended.
Identified Protection Monitors will be mainstreaming protection in the implementation of programs in the communities. They will also help in the identification and monitoring of protection issues, as well as advocating referral pathways on gender-based violence and child protection.
Each municipality developed its Protection Activity Plan. The plans included activities such as mobile legal missions, psychosocial support (PSS) sessions, identification, and monitoring of protection cases & referrals.
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DATU PIANG, MAGUINDANAO — Action Against Hunger Philippines, through the REACH 2 project, provided 410 shelter kits to conflict and flooding-affected families in Barangay Montay, Datu Piang on the 23rd of September 2021.
Our team worked closely with the local government of Datu Piang together with the barangay council in managing the distribution. The kits were composed of mosquito nets, mats, and blankets. A hygiene promotion session was also conducted to refresh the participating families’ knowledge on proper hygiene and sanitation practices.
During the first quarter of 2021, heavy rainfall had left several Maguindanao towns flooded, affecting areas such as Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Salibo, Datu Piang, Mamasapano, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, and Rajah Buayan. This, unfortunately, was not a new occurrence for them since several areas of the province were already prone to flooding. Maguindanao yet again experienced massive flooding which started last September 8, 2021. This caused tremendous impacts on the lives of people repeatedly displaced due to this hazard, making access to adequate protection and dignified living more difficult for those in already vulnerable circumstances. For example, women and girls who are displaced are faced with compromised access to personal security and dignity, making them extremely at-risk.
In photo: Heavy rains in Maguindanao had caused streets to be submerged in several inches of rainwater last September 8, 2021.
In some cases, opportunities to build back their lives and move forward are impeded because of recurring conflicts in the area. This situation causes internally displaced individuals (IDPs) to have limited access to quality water, sanitation & hygiene facilities (WASH) as well poses potential health risks.
In photo: Residents are faced with recurring flooding in Barangays Dalug Balt, Lumigues Sogud, and Cormatan from Masiu.
With funding from the European Union, REACH 2 aims to establish a protected environment for conflict and disaster-affected communities in Mindanao as one of the project’s key humanitarian objectives.
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PH_A1BP_2021Sep23_Al-King-Dilangalen_Shelter-Kit-Distribution-in-Datu-Piang-Maguindanao-1.jpg720960Adminhttps://actionagainsthunger.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/logo_text_orig_white-1.pngAdmin2021-10-02 08:16:092021-11-02 13:59:34Over 400 households in Datu Piang affected by the recurring Maguindanao displacement receive shelter kits from REACH 2
SitioEmbasi is one of the highly hazard-prone areas in Barangay Perez because of its steep location. The remote community was heavily affected during the landslide caused by the October 2019 Mindanao Earthquakes. This negatively impacted as many as 90 families who have been displaced since. To date, many of these families are still residing in evacuation centers since the relocation site organized by the Kidapawan City governments is yet to be completed.
The simulation drill began at exactly 9:10 a.m., kicking off with the community alarm siren and signaling the evacuation of about 30 families living in the area. During the simulation, the barangay local government unit (BLGU) responded promptly to the ‘landslide victims’ who had fled their homes. A triage and first aid station for casualties were also established.
Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Information Office
Meanwhile, the barangay social workers assisted in the evacuation of the families and then facilitated the distribution of food relief who were relocated to Datu Igwas Integrated IP School. Similar to actual emergency situations, the said school was turned into an evacuation center during the drill.
Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Information Office
One of the potential challenges raised during the activity was the evacuation of families with COVID-19 exposure—those who are undergoing isolation or quarantine. This is where members of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) were called in to assist in the evacuation. Their main role is to ensure that suspected, probable, and confirmed COVID patients will not infect others should an evacuation take place.
In photo: First responders act out a rescue situation during the landslide simulation drill at Sitio Embasi, Barangay Perez last September 16. 2021. (Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Information Office)
The roles of MOVE UP and other evaluators at the scene were to measure and determine the community’s preparedness in the event of a landslide in their area. As a result, any gaps or areas for improvement noted from the activity were expected to be addressed in the barangay’s evacuation plans.
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