Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster

by International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster
Residents gather at the Banaba Evacuation Centre
Residents gather at the Banaba Evacuation Centre

Over the last few months Banaba, just outside Manila, has mercifully been spared from the storms and heavy rains which frequently hit the community. Yet Banaba’s residents are still under threat from many directions.

For example, the Covid Delta variant has caused a huge new surge of infections in recent months. Total cases across the country have now reached almost 2.8 million, and over 42,000 have sadly died from the virus. What’s more, while over 50 million vaccine doses have been given, the supply chain is fragile and there isn’t enough to meet the need.

The country has implemented a series of lockdowns to curtail the spread, but with more than 2 million hospitality workers impacted in Manila alone, the economic impacts have also caused great hardship. As a result the government has moved to a localised approach targeting individual neighbourhoods, streets and sometimes even specific buildings.

Ka Noli, President of our local partner, Buklod Tao described the situation on the ground:

“At the entrance of the Dona Pepeng Subdivision of Banaba, coming from General A.Luna National Road, the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office erected a temporary outpost with a big signage that says :"Incident Command Post". This is related to the granular lockdown imposed in Camia street of the subdivision due to recent COVID-19 related deaths in the past two months in that street. There are also several individual houses that are in lockdown in the South Libis area due to COVID-19 cases. These are due to the recent policy of the country's Inter-Agency Task Force for the pandemic that granular lockdown imposition is to be implemented to combat COVID-19”.

Whether this localised, granular approach is successful remains to be seen, and residents are also facing danger from other quarters.

While the typhoon season traditionally draws to a close in August and September, the country was hit by two powerful typhoons last November. So, the chance for more to form this year is still of major concern. This is especially true for families living near the mighty Nangka river, one of several waterways that pass through Banaba.

Ka Noli went on to explain:

“The wall infrastructure erected by the government's Department of Public Works and Highways along the embankment of Nangka River on the Banaba side suffered the brunt of strong currents during last November’s typhoons.

This resulted in the collapse of a 100-meter length of the wall and another stretch of wall further along the river. Now just a half meter of space remains between the eroded portion and the houses of poor informal settlers. In February of this year two big tarpaulin signages were erected at the immediate vicinity of the collapsed wall that inform the residents that the area is not safe anymore; that there is imminent risk of collapse during heavy rains; and that the residents are advised to leave the area.

At the time I went to the area and took pictures of the condition of the houses viz-a-viz the eroded wall at the embankment of Nangka River. I interviewed three to four families that are very close to the eroded wall and asked them why they are not leaving the place. They replied that there is no government assistance to enable them to move and find a place to relocate/resettle. Instead they were advised to seek safety in evacuation centres like ours!”

This clearly isn’t a sustainable solution for long-term shelter needs, but with your amazing support we stand ready to support Buklod Tao and Banaba residents at risk of disaster. Thanks so much for continuing to support this project.

We’ll keep you posted as our work in Banaba continues, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I’d be delighted to hear from you as always.

Covid is surging once again
Covid is surging once again
The collapsed river wall
The collapsed river wall
A resident surveys the damage
A resident surveys the damage
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The boat crews have a new tool
The boat crews have a new tool

Thanks so much for helping Filipino communities prepare for disaster.

In our last report we highlighted how your amazing generosity helping to complete the Banaba Livelihood and Evacuation Centre had proved so vital during typhoons Rolly and Ulysses and their aftermath. Banaba residents sheltered inside the building during the  typhoons, and the Centre became a hub to support community recovery once the weather cleared. Over the last few months your donations have helped us deal with the remaining fall out from the typhoons, as well as some important lessons learned.

Firstly we’ve supported some essential maintenance of the Centre. Thanks to your brilliant donations we’ve been able to make some plumbing repairs to the heavily used bathrooms, and also install new solar powered lights. During Rolly and Ulysses our local partner Buklod Tao realised better lights were needed for the evacuees at night. Solar power is always the best option as this reduces reliance on external help and mains power during disasters. Thanks so much for helping to build this important local resilience!

Secondly, another lesson from Rolly and Ulysses came from the flood rescue boats which are built at the Centre. These boats saw heavy action during the typhoons, navigating narrow alleys and fighting heavy currents. Ka Noli, Buklod Tao’s President explained what they realised:

“It was observed that the paddles were used to push forward the boat by pressing the paddles against the walls of houses alongside the flooded street. Also, when the floodwaters were swift the paddles were sometimes no match to the current. There must be one more tool for the boat crews. We would like to provide "Tikin" poles to make the mobility of the boat more efficient by pushing.”

Because of your brilliant donations we’ve since been able to provide fourteen of these Tikin (or quant) poles - one for each of the volunteer boat crews that protect their local communities. Once again, thank you so much for making this vital adaption possible.

We’ll keep you posted as our work in Banaba continues, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I’d be delighted to hear from you as always

The poles being manufactured
The poles being manufactured
Some bathroom maintenance
Some bathroom maintenance
One of the new solar lights
One of the new solar lights
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Safe from the storm, thanks to you!
Safe from the storm, thanks to you!

It’s hard to express just how grateful we are for your support of this project over the years. 

Little by little you chipped in to help us complete the Banaba Livelihood & Evacuation Centre. Because of your generosity Banaba residents have had somewhere safe to shelter during an incredibly tough few months.

In our last report we explained how the Centre had proved vital during super typhoon Rolly. Then, just a few short days after we sent that report the Philippines was struck by another deadly typhoon. 

Typhoon Vamco, known locally as Ulysses, was the tenth typhoon of the 2020 Pacific season but the second costliest in the country’s entire history.

In Manila, Ulysses brought the worst flooding since typhoon Ketsana in 2009. For the residents of Banaba, just outside the capital, the rising flood waters quickly overwhelmed homes forcing families to evacuate.

Ka Noli, President of our amazing local partner Buklod Tao, described how some of these evacuees found safety and comfort at the Centre.

“Last November 2020, during typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, the Centre - particularly the first & second floors - served as an evacuation camp. 

The second floor was the main accommodation area for the evacuees. We had to limit the number of evacuees due to restrictions of social distancing, but we managed to accommodate nine 9 families or 29 persons. There were evacuees near the stage and all across the big open space of the second floor! 

The cubicles and curtains provided by IDV donors proved to be the best move to provide evacuees shelter and privacy. Salamat po! (Thank you!)

Before taking shelter all evacuees underwent our multi-hazard contingency protocols when entering on the first floor - thermal scanning, sanitation, wash, registration and contact tracing. The washing was done using the big wash station funded by IDV donors

There were evacuees too on the first floor, sheltering adjacent to the office. In this space was a two-month old baby girl and her family. They were accommodated here because there are more comfortable beds and beddings. Salamat Po to IDV donors for the previous assistance to purchase beddings for evacuees!

Continued washing was even more important with Covid. Happily the bathrooms and toilets at the Centre remained very functional. This was especially thanks to the provision of strong, free-flowing water from the two big tanks that collect rain water located on the third floor - again IDV donors provided these. 

Needless to say, our community kitchen volunteers cooked and served food at the dining hall. IDV donors helped to provide this food and even the big tables used were built by IDV volunteers many years ago.

Even after the evacuees had gone home the Centre was used in the recovery. In the later part of November 2020, after the onslaught of Rolly and Ulysses, the Centre was the venue for a psycho-social intervention for some forty (40) Buklod Tao members affected by Ulysses flood.

People now are still suffering. So this week we will resume the distribution of hot breakfasts to the poorer communities in Banaba. And Buklod Tao community kitchen based here at the Centre is at the helm of doing things. 

In all, Salamat po, IDV.

Salamat po, IDV Donors!.

We still need your unwavering support.”

We echo Ka Noli’s thanks. Without you the Centre would still be an unfinished shell instead of the vital safe haven it’s proven to be!

We’ll keep you posted as our work in Banaba continues, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I’d be delighted to hear from you as always.

Setting up the cubicle curtains
Setting up the cubicle curtains
Baby Rheeana was the youngest evacuee
Baby Rheeana was the youngest evacuee
Dinner is served
Dinner is served
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Residents who sheltered in the evacuation centre
Residents who sheltered in the evacuation centre

It’s been a disastrous few days in the Philippines after the country was struck by typhoon Goni, known locally as super typhoon Rolly, in the early hours of last Sunday morning. As the category five cyclone approached hundreds of thousands were forced to evacuate, a task complicated by the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 in the country.

Happily, thanks to your incredible support, the community of Banaba just outside of Manila was well prepared for the incoming storm. Ka Noli, President of our amazing local partner Buklod Tao, described their community’s preparations:

“Rolly was due to batter Metro Manila and our province of Rizal in the wee hours of November 1, 2020. The weather bulletins and text messages we received from the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council) provided advisories for all to get prepared since they say Rolly would side sweep Metro Manila and Rizal after passing through [neighbouring] Aurora Province.

So, the Buklod Tao Board of Trustees had a meeting revisiting our preparations on Saturday morning, October 31. We checked our stockpile of food and water, and happily the solar powered 4-stage rainwater disinfection that IDV donors provided to Buklod Tao was also in working order.

Unlike before Covid-19, we were unable to purchase coffee, sugar, biscuits and medicines for distribution to our [community volunteer] teams because the pandemic quarantine restrictions still limit our movements.

We next revisited our multi-hazard contingency plan for welcoming nearby residents to our evacuation centre. Everything was in place - thermal scanner, wash area, sanitation area, foot bath, separation area (in case there would be a walk-in evacuee who has fever), signage for registration and contact Tracing and signage too for direction to the 2nd floor of the centre where the family cubicles for evacuees are located”.

With preparations made all that was left was to wait for Rolly to make landfall. Ka Noli, continued his account:

“As early as 5:10am in the morning of November 1, 2020, Buklod Tao evacuation center received walk-in evacuees from the nearby riverside. The first evacuees included one adolescent girl, one baby infant girl and three female adults. They carried bags and even a thermos bottle for the baby's milk preparations. 

Thermal scanning was done inside not outside because there was no light at the back side entrance. Sanitation also was done inside the evacuation centre because it was already raining. After registration and contact tracing, I directed the evacuees to first utilize the beds proximate to Francia's office at the ground floor because they have an infant baby girl. 

Space was limited because of distancing requirements, but in all there were sixteen evacuees inside Buklod Tao evacuation center until 7:30 am on November 2. All evacuees were provided with mats, pillows, blankets, again provided thanks to IDV donors.

I sent text messages to our members Delia, Francia, Pablo and Louis (our newly recruited driver of the IDV-donated Suzuki multicab) with instructions to come to the evacuation center to activate Buklod Tao community kitchen. 

Snack was served in the morning of November 1, then lunch in the afternoon; no snacks in the afternoon; dinner in the evening and then breakfast in the morning of November 2. 

The children were provided some reading and coloring books to make themselves busy during their stay. The mothers joined community kitchen chores. There was no problem with ventilation since all the ceiling fans were working (thanks again to IDV donors for the purchase of these ceiling fans). They provided comfort to all the evacuees. 

In the end, we did have rains but not so strong. There was no electric power interruption, despite the intermittent strong winds. We also did not run out of food and water. We managed. We survived! It all reminds me of a Buklod Tao song about our fight:

In times of affliction,

God and Preparedness 

Are our Protection".

Salamat po, IDV Donors, for helping us these past ten years!”

We echo Ka Noli’s thanks to you. While we’re saddened by the major impacts Rolly has brought to other parts of the Philippines, we’re also incredibly grateful that the community of Banaba was prepared for disaster thanks to you.

We’ll keep you posted as our work in Banaba continues, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I’d be delighted to hear from you as always.

Evacuees arriving ahead of Rolly
Evacuees arriving ahead of Rolly
Meals being provided
Meals being provided
The IDV donated truck helped in preparation
The IDV donated truck helped in preparation
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Ka Noli and others inspect the new wall
Ka Noli and others inspect the new wall

It’s been a tough few months in Banaba, both for residents and our amazing local partner Buklod Tao.

Shortly after our last report a “community quarantine” was imposed on Metro Manila and neighbouring San Mateo, the municipality within which Banaba lies. Then, on April 21, this became an “enhanced community quarantine”, with much stricter restrictions.

This affected all residents, including Buklod Tao’s volunteer rescue boat crews who help their neighbours during floods and other emergencies. Many residents, including these crews work in casual blue-collar jobs and their income stopped as a result.

Initially the local government provided emergency food to help meet basic needs, but this has slowed or stopped as the restrictions have slowly eased again. However, although some residents are able to work again the economy is still weak and the need for help is still present.

Thankfully Banaba itself has reported very few cases of Coronavirus, but the threat of the disease also hasn’t gone away, so we’re continuing to work with Buklod Tao to provide any and all help we can, especially now the rainy season has returned.

There’s also been another challenge to contend with as access to the Banaba Livelihood & Evacuation Centre has also been threatened.

The land on which the Centre sits was purchased back in 2011. This was possible thanks to the help of international and local NGOs following the deadly typhoon Ondoy, known internationally as Ketsana, which struck in 2009. While another local NGO technically owns the land, Buklod Tao have been its stewards from the beginning on the understanding they would eventually become full owners in the future.

While this understanding is not under threat another challenge surrounding access has arisen. The original land deal stipulated that an access road to the Centre, that passes through neighbouring land, would be provided and maintained. This has indeed been the case since purchase, and IDV’s own international volunteers helped to fortify this road against erosion back in 2012.

Sadly, despite the original access stipulation, a local development corporation has recently cut the access road off. Buklod Tao’s President, Ka Noli, explained:

“After almost ten years, the Realty and Development Corporation has in the last 3 weeks, moved to construct a wall, seven feet high, traversing through its property that cuts across our access road. Thus, the issue is that the easy ingress and egress of Buklod Tao and evacuees seeking shelter has been compromised by the erection of a long, high wall”.

This move hasn’t gone unchallenged of course. Both Buklod Tao members, and the local NGO who holds the land title, have met with the corporation to remind them of the legal obligation for access. The corporation has since agreed to talk to Buklod Tao and other affected landowners nearby, but the wall has already been built and with the rain now falling heavily every afternoon and evening, there was an urgent need to find alternative access, even if only for the short-term.

Happily, a neighbouring landowner has agreed to provide access via his rooster farm which also borders the Centre. Everyone has been grateful for this but the route was initially crowded with undergrowth and clearing this has taken hard work in the humid climes of Banaba.

While Buklod Tao’s members have volunteered to support this task, your kind donations also enabled several local residents to be paid to help out too. This made the work easier and quicker and also provided some much needed employment for people suffering from Covid-19’s economic impacts. Thanks so much for making this possible.

As a result, access to the Centre for Buklod Tao, and for evacuees when the floods and typhoons inevitably arise, has been restored. The truck we donated to Buklod Tao after ending our volunteer deployment in Tacloban is also thankfully able to reach the Centre too.

So, while the challenges faced by Banaba in these extraordinary times haven’t abated, so far they’re being resisted thanks to your incredible support.

We’ll keep you posted as our work in Banaba continues, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I’d be delighted to hear from you as always.

A new access road had to be identified
A new access road had to be identified
Undergrowth had to be cleared
Undergrowth had to be cleared
Evacuees and even the truck can now gain access
Evacuees and even the truck can now gain access
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International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)

Location: Bristol, Somerset - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IDVMedia
Project Leader:
Andy Chaggar
Bristol, Somerset United Kingdom
$8,265 raised of $16,000 goal
 
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