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Building Resilience: Datu Piang’s Community-Wide Disaster Preparedness Drill

A community emergency drill is not just a test—it empowers conflict-stricken and disaster-prone communities to be more resilient.
 

Residents from vulnerable communities in Datu Piang, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao test their knowledge, attitude, and practices on disaster preparedness during the typhoon preparedness community-wide drill held last May 8, 2024.

Residents from vulnerable communities in Datu Piang, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao test their knowledge, attitude, and practices on disaster preparedness during the typhoon preparedness community-wide drill held last May 8. (Photo by Maryann Zamora for Action Against Hunger)

 
“It is our first time to experience a drill as big as this wherein over 300 people participated in and with support from different state agencies like the Bureau of Fire, Social Welfare and Development and Disaster Risk Reduction Council from the province and municipal level. This drill is important to us, knowing how to improve and prepare better when another disaster might happen to us,” says barangay captain Manny Kuda.

In photo: Participants do a simulation of a rescue operation during the community drill (Photo by Maryann Zamora for Action Against Hunger)

The community drill is the capstone of a comprehensive training series under the iPrepared Project, covering everything from First Aid to Water Search and Rescue. This is part of a larger effort to integrate disaster preparedness into local plans, ensuring resilience from the ground up while working closely and directly with communities, local government units, and other key partners in BARMM.
 
Funded by the American people through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and implemented by Action Against Hunger, this initiative isn’t just about responding to disasters. It’s about empowering communities to stand strong in the face of adversity.
Written by Maryann Zamora

Empowering Local Responders: Water Search and Rescue Training in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5, 2024.

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: Participants get ready to get into the water as part of the training. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

The goal is to equip community responders from seven municipalities in Maguindanao del Sur and Lanao del Sur with the skills needed to handle floods and typhoons confidently.

The training session covered water and flood awareness and quick flood response techniques.

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: Participants do one of the exercises during the session. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: Participants do a simulation of a rescue mission during the training. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) faces frequent flooding due to its proximity to bodies of water like the Rio Grande de Mindanao and Liguasan Marsh. iPrepared aims to boost disaster readiness in the region, emphasizing inclusivity, gender equality, and community partnerships.

Several community responders took part in a Water Search and Rescue training sessions organized by Action Against Hunger’s iPrepared Project from April 22 to May 5. In photo: One of the participating responders preparing to get in the water as part of the rescue exercise. (Photo by Chaz Mabunga for Action Against Hunger)

With the support of the American people through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, iPrepared empowers local responders to take charge in tackling climate and disaster challenges.


Written by Maryann Zamora

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Responding to the Mindanao Flooding Crisis

As Mindanao grapples with the aftermath of devastating flooding and landslides, Action Against Hunger is mobilizing to respond to the urgent needs of affected communities. The recent onslaught of heavy rains, warned by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on January 18, 2024, has left a trail of destruction in its wake, particularly in Agusan del Sur, Davao de Oro, Davao Del Norte, and Davao Oriental, affecting nearly 1.1 million people and displacing 354,000 individuals.


In Davao De Oro (DDO), a tragic landslide incident buried vehicles and resulted in injuries, compounding the challenges faced by already vulnerable populations. Homes, agriculture, and infrastructure were severely damaged across the region. Despite efforts from the national government and humanitarian organizations, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) providing essential aid, the scale of the disaster requires additional resources and support with some provinces expressing the need for assistance to complement their response efforts.


Action Against Hunger has been on the ground since February 8 to identify the immediate humanitarian needs of those affected. Our Mission Emergency Response team has been coordinating with local authorities and partners to address the immediate needs of communities in distress. We have established contacts and partnerships in the affected provinces, enabling us to respond effectively and efficiently. As assessments continue and the need for assistance grows, Action Against Hunger is gearing up to provide vital relief to those affected.


Identified needs include food assistance, water, sanitation, shelter, healthcare, agricultural support, and fuel for cooking. Action Against Hunger is committed to addressing these needs comprehensively, focusing on the most vulnerable populations in evacuation centers and host communities. Our response will encompass a range of interventions, including food distribution, and water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) initiatives.


One of the displaced families, Donabelle, shared her harrowing experience of the disaster. Pregnant and with her husband unable to work as a carpenter due to displacement, she faces an uncertain future in the evacuation center. The fear and uncertainty surrounding their situation are palpable, underscoring the urgent need for support and assistance.

Action Against Hunger’s next steps involve a targeted and coordinated response, prioritizing the most pressing needs of affected communities. With our teams mobilized and resources at the ready, we are poised to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those impacted by this tragedy.

With the support of the American people through the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Action Against Hunger is initiating an emergency response to support flood-affected communities in the Davao Region. We will be providing immediate humanitarian aid in water, sanitation, & hygiene (WASH) in the next few days.

Our focus includes distributing emergency WASH kits, and multi-purpose cash assistance to support at least 7,500 people through this emergency response. We stand ready to provide hope and assistance to those in need during this challenging time.

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CALP Network’s Successful ToT Program Advances Core CVA Skills in Manila with Support from USAID

Last week, the CALP Network successfully completed a Training of Trainers (ToT) program on Core Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) Skills for Programme Staff in Manila, Philippines, held from November 20th to 24th, 2023.
 
The ToT saw active participation from 16 CVA practitioners representing diverse backgrounds from 11 different agencies including UN entities, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and local actors. These CVA professionals came from countries such as Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, and Ukraine, and from those whose roles cover the Pacific and Central Asia regions.
 
This training initiative forms an integral part of CALP’s support aimed at assisting the humanitarian community in achieving high-quality Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) at scale. The importance of enhancing staff capacity is underscored by the insights presented in the State of the World’s Cash Report 2023, which emphatically asserts that “increasing staff capacity offers one of the biggest opportunities for the growth of CVA.”
 
Expanding the team of CALP-certified trainers in the Asia-Pacific region on Core CVA Skills for Programme Staff Training holds the potential to significantly enhance access to CVA learning opportunities for humanitarians. Having this will help in contributing to the broader goal of advancing proficiency and effectiveness in cash-based interventions.
In photo: Joseph Curry, regional humanitarian advisor at USAID gives a message during the Trainers (ToT) program on Core CVA Skills.
With USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance‘s support, the CALP Network serves as a collaborative platform that brings together organizations to strengthen their capacity, knowledge, coordination, and policies related to Cash and Voucher Assistance. Action Against Hunger is an active member of the CALP Network and currently hosts its Asia-Pacific Region team.

Action Against Hunger Country Director, Suresh Murugesu, at the Trainers (ToT) program on Core CVA Skills.

Empowering Farmers for a Climate-Resilient Future in Lanao del Sur

LANAO DEL SUR, MINDANAO – Over 200 farmers from six barangays in Balabagan and Kapatagan are embarking on an inspiring 8-month journey with the iPrepared project’s Climate Resilience Farmer Field School (CRFS) program. Among them is the resilient 43-year-old Bhai from Barangay Proper Kapatagan.
 
Nearly four months since the CRFS program began, Bhai and her fellow farmers have already gained valuable insights into climate-smart agriculture. Bhai also received a generous supply of vegetable seeds, including string beans, bottle gourd, tomatoes, eggplant, white cucumber, and bokchoy.
 
With unwavering support from the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA), Action Against Hunger, through the iPrepared project, is on a mission to empower vulnerable communities in Mindanao, enabling them to better tackle the challenges posed by climate change. The CRFS program is also done in coordination with the Office of Provincial Agriculture (OPAG).
Bhai’s vision extends beyond herself; she envisions her children becoming stewards of the land. Together, they make learning a family affair, a cherished activity during school breaks. With a heart full of love, she seeks to provide nourishment for her family, ensuring they have access to a bounty of homegrown vegetables.
“The knowledge I’ve gained will enable me to make the most of the land in front of our home,” she shares with excitement. “I’ve also learned to be resourceful by reusing plastic to help my plants thrive.” Even though her home is about 2 kilometers away from the demo farm, her determination to learn and apply her newfound knowledge knows no bounds.
We continue to work hand in hand with these communities, nurturing the seeds of change we’ve planted. Together, we are paving the way for a more climate-resilient future, one step at a time, with the promise of even brighter days ahead.

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

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Siargao Farmers Trained on Good Agricultural Practices and Organic Farming

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

The livelihood support is part of the second phase of the project ‘‘Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette’, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against HungerCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


Written by Arianne Gijsenbergh Read more

Restoring the Rice Fields After Typhoon Odette

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.

Erna joined the livelihood training sessions and received cash assistance to restore her family’s livelihood. This was part of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response implemented by Action Against Hunger in the province of Surigao del Norte with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA),

“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

The livelihood support is part of the ‘Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette’ project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against Hunger, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


Written by Arianne Gijsenbergh Read more

Supporting livelihoods, caring for families and communities

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)

The “Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette in Caraga,” an emergency response project funded by the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) which is jointly implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Agri-Aqua Development Coalition – Mindanao, and Relief International. 


Written by Aliana Gene Sarmiento

72-year old farmer hopes for quick recovery from lost livelihoods after Typhoon Odette

SURIGAO DEL NORTE — A few days before Typhoon Odette (internationally named Rai) made landfall in the Philippines, Luzviminda’s youngest son and his family moved in to stay with her home in Barangay Day-asan, Surigao City. “My son with his wife and child just returned to Siargao from Manila with the hope to raise their family here,” she shared.
 
At 72 years old, Luzviminda and her family make a living through coconut farming. This was brought to an abrupt end when Typhoon Odette visited the island. They are now solely relying on the help given by different agencies and the Surigao City local government.
Overall damages of Typhoon Odette on agriculture have been reported to cost around 17.7 billion pesos in total according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC). Experts have stated that it might take approximately five years for coconut farmers like Luzviminda to fully recover from the disaster. In that span of time, Luzviminda hopes they will receive continuous support as they restore their livelihood and recover from their losses.
 “We’re grateful to Action Against Hunger and other humanitarian agencies,”
 “We’re grateful to Action Against Hunger and other humanitarian agencies,” Luzviminda said as she thanked the team for the cash aid they received. This will minimize their family’s expenses in purchasing basic needs like food and water.
 
Luzviminda’s family is one of the 539 households in Barangay Day-Asan, Surigao City who received 5,150 pesos from the Multi-purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) of our Typhoon Odette Emergency Response funded by the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

Photo by Jowhari Maulana Salik for Action Against Hunger

 
The “Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette” is an emergency response project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Agri-Aqua Development Coalition – Mindanao, and Relief International.

Photo by Jowhari Maulana Salik for Action Against Hunger


Written by Johwadi M. Salik | Edited by Dale Divinagracia

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Supporting Typhoon Odette-affected families to meet food and other basic needs through cash assistance

Within a week after Typhoon Odette made its first landfall in the country, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has since been supporting our emergency response operations in Caraga. Now, we are taking a step further by continuing the support to help typhoon-affected families in recovering from the impacts of Odette.

Through the funding of the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), we are hoping to enable around 75,105 people to support their basic household needs through multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA).

This is part of our continued Typhoon Odette emergency response among the affected areas of Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Dinagat Islands, and Bohol. Around 500 people from Barangay Day-asan in Surigao City had received cash assistance amounting to 5,000 pesos yesterday, February 16.

Aside from the cash assistance itself, heads of households also received an amount allotted for their transportation fare. This is the first among our series of MPCA activities in the coming weeks.

Photo by Meifen Mamangkas for Action Against Hunger

The “Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette” is an emergency response project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines, CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Agri-Aqua Development Coalition – Mindanao, and Relief International.


Written by Joyce Anne Sandajan Read more