Build Rescue Boats in Flood Prone Communities

by International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)
A message from Drissa and the rest of Buklod Tao
A message from Drissa and the rest of Buklod Tao

As the Holiday Season continues we wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas from Banaba in the Philippines.

Since our last project report we’ve been fortunate to receive several further donations, and these have allowed us to make a start on Drissa’s new boat workshop. This workshop will be inside the second floor of the Banaba Livelihood & Evacuation Center which we also talk more about in another report.

We’re currently working to improve the Center and so it’s perfect timing to be able to include the new boat workshop at the same time. When complete the boat workshop will be used by Drissa to build even more flood rescue boats for the community of Banaba. Thanks so much for making this next stage of the project possible!

Of course thanks from us is one thing, but we wanted to give Drissa and the rest of our Buklod Tao (our local partners in Banaba) a chance to send you season’s greetings themselves. So we hope you like the photo above which they sent to us just a few days ago.

We still need more funds to complete the workshop, and also to build more boats. So, if you’re still keen to support Drissa’s work this Christmas, and into the New Year, there’s still time to donate.

What’s more, there’s match funding available for any new recurring donations set up via GlobalGiving during December. On the US GlobalGiving site your initial donation will receive a 100% match after four months (a limit of $200 applies). On the UK site the terms are the same but the matching limit is £100.

Recurring donations are particularly amazing, as they allow us to plan ahead more effectively. But we would also be very grateful for any one time gifts you might be able to make as the Holiday season continues.

As always, if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email I would be delighted to hear from you.

Worktable hoisted into the new 2nd floor workshop
Worktable hoisted into the new 2nd floor workshop
There's still plenty to do to finish the workshop
Drissa relies on the boats but he also builds them
Drissa relies on the boats but he also builds them

Soon after we sent you our last project report the Philippines was hit by typhoon Koppu, known locally as typhoon Lando.

As the fifteenth typhoon of the season approached it was clear that it would make landfall somewhere in Luzon, the northern Island which is home of the capital Manila.

In response Banaba’s rescue boat crews prepared for action. They checked their boats and equipment, bought emergency phone credit, and made sure their radios had batteries. Once everything was checked they sat down with their families to make sure they had a plan once they were separated. They all also bravely accepted that, should the worst happen, they might never be reunited.

When Koppu later made landfall it killed 58 people and forced over 100,000 from their homes. This was yet another tragedy for the Philippines but happily Manila, and nearby Banaba were spared the worst.

As the boat crews stood down the relief was almost palpable. All of Banaba’s residents have been seriously affected by typhoons and floods at some point so everyone knows what’s at stake. So, they’re all really grateful for the boats you’ve provided over the years.

One of Banaba’s residents, Drissa, summed it up simply like this:

Our community is thankful because we have something to use whenever there is flood.  It is really a big help”.

Drissa’s story is interesting because he’s not just any resident. He’s lived in Banaba for years and, like many others, he relies on the boats for rescue during floods. But perhaps because of this Drissa has also taken a lead role in actually manufacturing the boats as well.

The boats are all constructed from fiberglass and it’s a job that requires patience and skill.  Drissa has both in abundance and over time he’s become one of Banaba’s main boat builders.

Drissa often volunteers his time but, because the boat fabrication is so highly skilled, he also gets a modest payment when he’s working on the boats. It’s not a lot, but it helps, and it also means that money and skills are kept in the local community.

That’s one of the things we love about this project. The boats themselves protect the community during disasters, and the process of making them also makes the community stronger as well.

Drissa had this to say about his work:

“I am thankful that i am one of the lucky person to fabricate the rescue boats that IDV has donated to our community. It helps a lot to my family.”

We know you’ve already given a lot to help Drissa and his community but this December we’re hoping you’ll be willing to donate once again.

Banaba needs more boats and Drissa also needs help to make the production easier. His workspace is constantly being moved around. Sometimes he’s inside an unfinished building, and sometimes he just works outside.

This all makes his job more difficult and so we’re aiming to raise $1,500 to give Drissa a permanent workshop. These funds will help build an enclosed room and also give Drissa somewhere to store tools and materials to make more boats.

So please consider making a donation this December. This will help Drissa continue his trade and help protect his whole community at the same time.

As always, if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email I would be delighted to hear from you.

Sometimes Drissa works in an unfinished building
Sometimes Drissa works in an unfinished building
Sometimes Drissa works outside
Sometimes Drissa works outside
Please help give Drissa a workshop this December
Please help give Drissa a workshop this December


Fifty six year old Pina is safe because of you!
Fifty six year old Pina is safe because of you!

The 2015 typhoon season has brought several storms to the Philippines, and some of these, like typhoon Goni, sadly led to deaths and destruction in the country. Fortunately none of these storms have caused more than heavy rains in the capital itself. So, the community of Banaba, on the city’s outskirts, has so far been spared major flooding and damage.

Typhoons and tropical storms typically develop between May and October. So, at this time of the year Banaba’s residents would normally be starting to relax a little. If a major storm hasn’t struck by this point then most would assume that the danger had likely passed.

But sadly 2015 is far from a normal year.

Climate change is causing an increase in both the number and strength of storms and, in 2015, El Nino has only added to the problem. Water temperatures are higher than normal and this means more energy for severe weather systems to feed off.

The effects in the Pacific ocean have been dramatic.

On the Pacific’s eastern edge two major storms had formed by the first week in June. In a normal year this doesn’t happen until at least 2 months later in the season!  On average only three storms of this size form in a single season. But by September of 2015 the count was already double that average.

In fact, at the end of August the season became a record breaker. At this point three category four storms were all spiralling in the Pacific at the same time. This has never happened before in any ocean on the planet!

Thankfully none of these storms caused major disasters but the ferocity of the 2015 season means that nothing can be taken for granted. While the season would now normally be almost over the threat of a major typhoon hitting the Philippines is still all too real.

For this reason the residents of Banaba remain incredibly grateful for the flood rescue boats that your generous donations have provided. These boats and their brave crews have been ready to spring into action throughout the season to date. And they’ll remain on standby throughout the rest of the year.

This security means a lot to those under threat, and fifty six year old Pina had this to say about the boat you provided to their neighborhood:

“The boat is a is a very big help to us because before, we saved people using our bare hands, no tools, no equipment and we can carry one person at a time, now, with the big boat, it carries 14 people, so it makes the rescuing more efficient.”

Thanks so much for making sure that Pina, her family, and all their neighbors have a rescue boat available. 2015 may be an extraordinary years for storms but thanks to your extraordinary generosity help will be there whatever the weather brings.

As always, if you ever have any queries about how we’re using your donation, please don’t hesitate to email I would be delighted to hear from you.

A record breaking three major storms in parallel
A record breaking three major storms in parallel
The boats you provide stand ready to help
The boats you provide stand ready to help
The crew of the "Helen Thompson" Boat
The crew of the "Helen Thompson" Boat

July has arrived and the residents of Banaba, just outside of Manila, are starting to step up their preparations for the approaching rainy season.

Banaba is flooded several times a year during the rainy season. So, all its residents know they need to make adequate preparations for when the rivers next burst their banks.

But some residents are even more aware than most. These are the brave men and women who crew the community’s flood rescue boats.

When the floods inevitably strike these crews will immediately spring into action to rescue neighbours who have been trapped by the rapidly rising water.

It can be a dangerous job crewing one of these boats, as the currents are incredibly strong. Boats also have to navigate narrow passageways, which can be blocked by debris. Floods can also strike anytime, day or night, and the darkness makes rescuing people more dangerous.

So, these boat crews are the community’s heros. They don’t get paid for their time and efforts. And they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way many times each year.

But because these boat crews are so brave it can sometimes be easy to forget they’re just everyday people too. They’re also scared of the water which submerges their community. And they also have wives, husbands, parents and children who worry about them when they’re on patrol.

For all these reasons we wanted to do something to help make their jobs safer and easier. So we recently provided several of Banaba’s boat crews with vital equipment including life jackets, flashlights and ropes.

These crews operate rescue boats in the Armpac, Banaba Extension and North Libis areas of the community. They were all delighted with the new equipment that was previously lacking.

While this equipment was relatively simple to provide it could literally save their lives. As a result the crews, and their families, will be able to breath a little easier when the floods soon arrive.

Thanks so much for making this simple yet impactful help possible!

We’d like to provide more boat crews with similar equipment, and so this July 15 we’re asking you please consider supporting these brave men and women once again. This is because on July 15 GlobalGiving will be matching donations to this project by an amazing 50%.

Matching will start at 9am Eastern Time (or 1pm in the UK) and donations up to $1,000 (or £600 in the UK) per donor will be matched while funds remain. So, please consider making a gift on July 15, and please also spread the word about this incredible opportunity.

As always, if you ever have any queries about how we’re using your donation, please don’t hesitate to email I would be delighted to hear from you.

The crew of the "GlobalGiving" boat
The crew of the "GlobalGiving" boat
It's a great day to help crews help more evacuees
The "Helen Thompson" is our latest rescue boat
The "Helen Thompson" is our latest rescue boat

We’re delighted to announce that our latest flood rescue boat is complete!

Our new boat is now situated in the Banaba Extension area of Barangay Banaba, just outside of Manila. For a number of reasons Banaba Extension is incredibly vulnerable to the floods which regularly strike the community.

Firstly it’s nearly fully encircled by the Nangka river, which almost creates an island as it loops its way around the community.

The banks of the Nangka river are naturally steep, and this steepness has been made worse by the recent construction of concrete walls. The walls prevent riverbank erosion but their addition has turned the river into a very narrow and deep canal in places. In dry season you can stand on the Nangka’s edge and look almost vertically down onto the water twenty feet below.

But in rainy season the Nangka’s waters rise quickly and dramatically. Typhoons, tropical storms and even just heavy rain cause the river’s flow to rapidly increase. The river can’t drain quickly enough and the Nangka’s waters have nowhere to go but up and into Banaba Extension itself.

This would be dangerous enough but Banaba Extension is also densely populated and has very poor access.

Because of it’s geography the only people who live in Banaba Extension are poor, informal settlers. Many of the area's 2,500 residents were drawn here looking for work, and they can’t afford to live outside this dangerous area.

There are some concrete houses but many others are made of lightweight materials, like plywood, that are easily washed away during floods. There are also no roads within Banaba Extension. The only way in, or out, is through a maze of narrow alleyways. This makes escape slow and dangerous when the floods come.

For all these reasons Banaba Extension was in desperate need of a rescue boat. So, we were delighted to recently handover our latest rescue boat to the community.

Handover of the boat took place on April 12, 2015, and due to the narrow alleyways delivering the boat proved challenging at times. But residents were so happy to receive the boat that many joined in to help. By the end of the day the boat was in position and it’s now ready to respond and save lives as needed.

This was the seventh rescue boat we’ve provided in Barangay Banaba and this one was especially poignant for us. This is because this latest boat has been dedicated to the memory of Helen Thompson, a long time friend and supporter of IDV who died tragically in late 2013.

We hope that Helen would be pleased knowing that “The Helen Thompson” will be protecting Banaba’s most vulnerable residents for many years to come.

If you’d like to dedicate a flood rescue boat to a loved one, or more simply sponsor a boat through your company or school, then please don’t hesitate to email I would be delighted to hear from you.

Residents carry the boat through narrow alleyways
Residents carry the boat through narrow alleyways
Kids lend a hand by carrying the boat seats
Kids lend a hand by carrying the boat seats

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Organization Information

International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)

Location: Bristol, Somerset - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Andy Chaggar
Bristol, Somerset United Kingdom

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