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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
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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John (left) and friends want to thank you
John (left) and friends want to thank you

Thanks to your incredible support the Banaba Livelihood and Evacuation Centre has been full of the energy and laughter of young people over the last few months.

Our work in Banaba, just outside of Manila, is all undertaken in partnership with an amazing peoples’ organisation called Buklod Tao. It’s six hundred-plus members are all local residents who, in 1996, started to join forces to fight for a stronger community that could better resist the many disasters that strike every year.

One of the greatest things about Buklod Tao is that the group is multi-generational. The adults know that protecting their community is a long-term effort and that empowering young people is vital to their work.

So, Buklod Tao has a youth wing called Buklod Ng Kabataan (or BK for short), which means “The Youth Bonding Together”, that has been working with Buklod Tao since 2007. 

The community of Banaba knows that reducing the risk of disasters is closely linked to protecting the environment, and so a key part of BK’s mission has always been to protect mother earth.

Over the years your donations have helped support their work, which has included environmental advocacy and peer education projects. So, when Buklod Tao approached us late last year about engaging and empowering the next generation of future leaders we were keen to help.

So, over the last few months your generosity has helped BK to run regular Saturday activities for up to 65 young people aged 5-14. These activities have all been organised to educate the young people about the importance of protecting the environment and give them an appreciation for interacting with it. 

Examples have included the manufacture of organic compost, using this to create “urban container gardens” and simply enjoying nature through hikes and supervised tree climbing. Healthy food and snacks has also been provided to ensure that young people from lower income households haven’t gone home hungry.

The activities have been a great success and we ask some of the young people taking part to share their thoughts. John, pictured above in the yellow t-shirt had this to say:

“At BK we learn many things like gardening, recycling and how to make compost. We are always encouraged to wash our hands always, especially before meals. There is always food for breakfast and lunch. We are fetched and brought back home by the multicab of Buklod Tao, and we never go home without learning something”.

BK members are also encouraged to share what they’ve learned through performance and Loren, pictured immediately below, had this to say:

“I learned composting while with BK and I even receive additional food for my good health. We, as a group of BK also went to the office of the EcoWaste Coalition to sing and perform songs about Mother Nature. Thank you!”

We echo Loren’s thanks for empowering the next generation, and we hope you’ll keep supporting these efforts moving forward. 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.

Your support has empowered Loren
Your support has empowered Loren
Making organic compost
Making organic compost
Practising a performance to share learnings
Practising a performance to share learnings
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The top of a new water tower is in the tree tops
The top of a new water tower is in the tree tops

Thanks to your amazing generosity the vulnerable Filipino community of Banaba has stood firm in the face of many potential disasters in 2019.

In our last project report we described how we were working to restore and refresh the fleet of eleven flood rescue boats we’ve provided since 2013. Since then we’ve supported the renovation of another six boats, bringing the total number of working boats to seventeen.

This restoration work has provided a great opportunity to take stock of impacts and between the seventeen boats over 5,400 families are now being protected. This is a truly incredible achievement and it’s only been possible because of the fantastic support of donors like you. Thank you so much.

With the fleet restoration complete we’ve now turned our attention back to further work on the Banaba Livelihood & Evacuation Centre.

Back in June your generosity enabled us to equip the Centre with cubicles to host evacuees during disasters. In March you also allowed us to provide a solar powered water purifier.

The water purifier uses harvested rainwater, and the work now ongoing will boost the supply to both the purifier and the rest of the building. A new water tower is being constructed next to the building. This tower will elevate two large 1,300 litre tanks and two smaller 200 litre tanks to the height of the building’s top storey. 

This will in turn allow the large tanks to gravity feed the Centre’s showers and toilets, while the two smaller tanks will boost the supply to the purifier.

The tanks will harvest rainwater from the building’s roof, and to ensure an uninterrupted flow the tower will also provide easier access to the roof to clean away fallen leaves and other debris.

This work will make Centre a better environment for evacuees, and the need for this was brought home again in early December when typhoon Kammuri (known locally as Tisoy) made landfall.

Tisoy brought winds approaching 100mph and Manila airport was shut down as a precaution as the typhoon rolled in. In the end Tisoy passed south of Manila but our amazing local partners Buklod Tao were well prepared just in case.

The boats described above are all crewed by local volunteers who stand ready to rescue their neighbours in times of crisis. However, they can only do this if they know their own families are safe. So, in advance of the typhoon making landfall Buklod Tao provided the crews with essential emergency supplies their families would need should the worst happen. The crews were then able to stand guard with confidence their loved ones would be safe.

None of this would be possible without your amazing support. So, once again, thank you for your incredible generosity during 2019 and we wish you a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

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.

The tower from below
The tower from below
A brace being welded into position
A brace being welded into position
Emergency supplies for boat crews
Emergency supplies for boat crews
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The Chris Taylor boat is protecting 300 families
The Chris Taylor boat is protecting 300 families

Thanks to your incredible support we’re continuing our vital work helping vulnerable Filipino families prepare for disaster.

Firstly, the new flood rescue boat we described in our last project report was completed in August. This new boat, the Chris Taylor, is now in place and protecting 300 vulnerable families in Zone 6 of Brgy Ampid 1 in Banaba. One of the residents, Rose, had this to say at the boat handover:

“Thank you so much to IDV’s donors for your undying support and love for the community of Banaba and Ampid San Mateo Rizal. God bless you always.”

We echo Rose’s thanks and are even more delighted to report that the Banaba Livelihood & Evacuation Centre has been a veritable boat yard since The Chris Tayor was completed.

We’ve provided eleven boats since 2013, which have rescued hundreds of families in total, but their years of service had left them in need of a little TLC. So, over the last few weeks we've worked with our local partner, Buklod Tao, to restore and refresh the fleet.

At one point the previously provided Nova Mills, Helen Thompson, Grahame Maher and GlobalGiving rescue boats were all dry-docked at the Centre while waiting to be returned to their communities. 

When the Nova Mills was returned to the Armpac area of Banaba we asked local resident, Joseph, how this boat helped his community:

"The Nova Mills boat is a big, big help, especially when the ferocious southwest monsoon (Habagat) struck last year (2018). We were able to use The Noval Mills boat to rescue residents of the community when the flood waters reached chest high. We are very grateful. Special thanks to IDV's donors for providing this help".

Secondly, the rainwater harvesting system and solar water purifier we also described in our last report is working like a dream.

We asked Buklod Tao’s President, Ka Noli, what impact this was having and he had this to say:

“The water purifier has given us opportunities to save on potable water. Instead of buying from the commercial water stations, Buklod Tao in just one month is able to save the cost of eighty liters of water by simply collecting rainwater and passing it through the four-stage water purification. These savings will have a rippling effect to our members as we can use the money for other projects to help the community".

Thanks so much for making all this 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.

Four boats dry docked after restoration
Four boats dry docked after restoration
Drinking water from the sky!
Drinking water from the sky!
Cheers to your incredible support
Cheers to your incredible support
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A cubicle ready to be equipped with bedding
A cubicle ready to be equipped with bedding

Thanks to your continued generosity the Banaba Livelihood & Evacuation Centre is a hive of community activity at the moment.

Firstly, the cubicles we described in our last project report have come on leaps and bounds. Thanks to your donations another seventeen cubicles have been installed on the Centre’s top floor. These cubicles will each provide another family with privacy and dignity while sheltering in the building during disasters. Thank you so much.

Secondly, our last report also described how your generosity had enabled us to provide a solar powered water purifier for the Centre. With this system now in place it’s possible to ensure that collected rainwater can be made fully potable. So, your donations have also been used to install a rainwater harvesting system to make the building even more self-reliant during storms and floods. Thanks for making this possible too.

Next, and again with your support, we’ve also helped our local partner Buklod Tao to undertake some essential maintenance on the truck we donated back in 2017.

This truck has been a real workhorse over the years, helping to transport everything from flood rescue boats to groups of children attending Christmas parties at the Centre. Buklod Tao’s founder, Ka Noli, sent his thanks as follows:

Thank you to the donors for helping with the much needed repair of the metal flooring of the IDV-donated multicab truck. The welder, Bro Vic, has already finished the repairs at the left side, i.e. the driver’s seat. The next job is the fixing of the holes at the right side flooring. Salamat po for your help!”

Finally, we’re also delighted to announce that we’ve now also started work on yet another flood rescue boat and trailer. When complete this boat will protect 300 families in Zone 6 of Brgy Ampid 1 from rapidly rising flood water. This boat is funded via another of our GlobalGiving projects. Stay tuned to that project page for more updates about this boat coming soon.

All these activities, which have only been possible thanks to your support, are helping prepare the local community for the next disaster that will inevitably strike. Thanks so much for your continued generosity.

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.

Rain water is now being harvested
Rain water is now being harvested
Bro Vic making repairs to the truck
Bro Vic making repairs to the truck
Our latest flood rescue boat is taking shape
Our latest flood rescue boat is taking shape
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Organization Information

International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)

Location: Bristol, Somerset - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IDVMedia
Project Leader:
Andy Chaggar
Bristol, Somerset United Kingdom

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