Help Filipino Communities Prepare for Disaster

by International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)
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The Banaba Evac Center is being covered in plants!
The Banaba Evac Center is being covered in plants!

The work your amazing generosity has made possible in Banaba over the last year is leading to some fantastic impacts!

In our January report we highlighted how you’d helped construct a greenhouse at the Banaba Livelihood and Evacuation Center. Our partner in Banaba, Buklod Tao, use the greenhouse to nurture seedlings as part of an “urban container gardening” initiative. This initiative teaches families how to grow vegetables in limited space to provide better nutrition and food security.

The gardening initiative is very successful in its own right but the yield from the greenhouse has recently been put to even more use.

The center itself is a three storey building that was originally built by another organisation. But their funding sadly ran out before construction could be finished. One of the tasks left incomplete was the external rendering of the building. Without render the building’s bricks are exposed to the elements, putting them at risk of damage over time. Also, the exposed concrete blocks are pretty ugly.

The materials needed to render the building - namely sand and cement - would be expensive for a structure as large as the center. So, for almost two years the bricks have remained exposed.

But Buklod Tao are ever resourceful and we’ve recently been working with them on an innovative solution. The greenhouse is able to produce so many seedlings that work recently started to cover the center with a living, breathing skin of plants!

The process starts by securing a steel mesh to the the outside walls of the building. This material is relatively cheap and allows the quick and easy securing of planter boxes to the walls.

These planter boxes are made from recycled juice containers reclaimed from the waterways and streets of the community. This in itself reduces pollution as the containers would normally either remain in the water, or be burned, which releases toxic fumes.

Instead these upcycled juice boxes now contain plants which are attached to the center’s walls. When these plants grow they provide many benefits.

Firstly, they soak up the rains which would normally damage the building’s bricks over time. Secondly, they provide an additional layer of insulation, which in the very tropical Philippines helps to keep the building cooler. Thirdly, as the plants grow they suck up carbon dioxide. As climate change is leading to more typhoons this is particularly apt way to protect the walls of an evacuation center! Finally, the plants create a beautiful green covering instead of conventional drab concrete walls.

We think this is a great solution to the missing render on the building and, once again, your support has been vital to its success. As well as supporting the original greenhouse construction your donations also provided the gondola we discussed in our July report.

This gondola is suspended from the centre’s strong steel roof frame and provides a safe, enclosed platform from which work securing the plants can be undertaken.

We think it’s fantastic how this relatively simple support, of the greenhouse and gondola, is now having such a great impact. Thank you so much!

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

The plants provide a living, breathing "skin"
The plants provide a living, breathing "skin"
The plants come from the greenhouse you provided
The plants come from the greenhouse you provided
65 year old Fey benefits from this project
65 year old Fey benefits from this project

Thanks to your incredible generosity we’re once again working to improve the Banaba Livelihood and Evacuation Centre, just outside of Manila.

In our January project report we explained how the centre was originally built by another NGO but that funding ran out before overall work could be completed.

Since then we’ve been helping to gradually develop and improve the centre to increase its usefulness to the community. Our previous work has doubled the amount of usable space in the building. But we’ve been conscious of how much work remains to be done.

For example much of the third floor is still very much exposed to the elements and this severely limits how many evacuated families can use the centre during typhoons. To fix this issue we’re aiming to purchase and install another twenty large windows in the building.

But buying and fixing the remaining windows is only part of the challenge.

The centre is a three storey building and this makes maintaining the outside of the windows on the upper floors both daunting and dangerous!

As a result the windows already in place had become very dirty over the last six months. Rust patches had also begun to form on some frames which had been installed, but not painted, during the original construction process.

So, rather than just push on with the remaining glazing tasks we decided it was better to first take steps to protect the existing windows, and also to make caring for the later ones easier.

To do this we’ve worked with our partner, Buklod Tao, to build and install a gondola on the outside of the building. This gondola is suspended from the centre’s strong steel roof frame and forms a safe, enclosed platform from which essential maintenance work can be carried out.

As a result work is now already well underway to remove the rust from the existing window frames, and to protect them further through a coat of paint. As a result we can now turn our attention back to the missing windows and making the centre completely watertight from top to bottom!

Of course, we still need more funds to buy and install the missing windows, but this July 15 GlobalGiving will be making this easier by matching donations to this project by an incredible 50%.

Matching will start at 9am Eastern Time (or 1pm in the UK) and donations up to $1,000 (or £600 in the UK) will be matched per donor 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 Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I would be delighted to hear from you.

The gondola in use during window maintenance
The gondola in use during window maintenance
It
It's a great day to help evacuess like Fey and Lee
You
You're helping Marilyn prepare for disaster!

The weather in Banaba has remained mercifully calm over the past few months.

At Easter a super typhoon called Maysak did form over the Pacific.  But happily, after threatening the Philippines for a few days, the typhoon blew itself out before making landfall.

Our partners Buklod Tao had begun to break out their emergency supplies, which were paid for with your generous donations, but in the end they were able to stand down and return to their day-to-day tasks.

Of course, these day to day tasks still relate to preparing for disasters, although a little more indirectly.

It’s a sad fact that the poor are often most affected by disasters. For example, they can often only afford to live along dangerous riverbanks. Their poorly constructed houses are also washed away easily.

This is why providing livelihoods opportunities for Banaba’s poor is as important for disaster risk reduction as making preparations for an actual response.

And thanks to your incredible support we’re helping to provide these opportunities in Banaba.

Last year we purchased sewing machines for the Banaba Livelihood and Evacuation Centre. These machines are used by local women to make a range of products which can be sold to earn vital income.

Products made by the women include shopping bags recycled from old juice cartons and slippers made from coconut husks. Over the last few weeks however the women have also started sewing cleaning rags made from unwanted clothes and material.

One of the women who uses the sewing machines is 51 year old Marilyn. Marilyn has four children and she hopes they can all finish their studies. Marilyn also hopes that they can find a safer place to live.  But for these hopes to become a reality Marilyn needs a chance to earn an income.

Happily, thanks to the sewing machines you provided, Marilyn now has this opportunity.

Using these machines Marilyn, and the other women she shares them with, are currently earning around $7 a day making the cleaning rags. This may not sound like much but for Marilyn in Banaba, it makes a huge difference.

Working collectively also helps in other ways. Sometimes the women sew, and sometimes they cut and prepare the materials. The main thing is that they work together and share access to the machines so that they all benefit. This spirit of cooperation, developed during the calm, will provide the women with a support network when the next storm does hit.

Thanks so much for supporting Marilyn and her colleagues, even when the sun is shining.

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

Local women using the sewing machines you provided
Local women using the sewing machines you provided
The cleaning rags the women are selling right now!
The cleaning rags the women are selling right now!
The center
The center's second floor is now usable!

Thanks to your amazing generosity we've recently worked with our partner Buklod Tao to improve the Banaba Livelihood and Evacuation Center, just outside of Manila.

The main structure of the center was built by another NGO but their funding ran out before work could be completed.  While some of the building was usable, only the first floor had windows and this meant the upper two floors were badly exposed to the elements.  The center also lacked a mains water supply and only had two working bathrooms.

For most of the year the center is used to host Buklod Tao's impactful community development projects.  But with windows on only one floor even moderate rain would disrupt these projects.

During typhoons the center is intended to be used as a safe place for sixty evacuated families.  But with protection, sanitation and water supply all limited only a very few could use the building.

This was all incredibly frustrating for Buklod Tao who work tirelessly to improve their community and to help protect it from disasters.

But thanks to your support, we’ve been able to make great progress on making the center usable over the last few months.

The center’s second floor is now watertight and secure, thanks to both windows and security bars being installed.  We’ve also finished construction work on the centre's second and third floor bathrooms.  This work has doubled the amount of usable space in the center and it's also doubled the amount of usable sanitation facilities.

With your help a rainwater harvesting system and pump have also been installed to provide the water supply.

The harvesting system can store over 650 gallons and we’ve helped train Buklod Tao in how to sterilise the contained water.  This means families evacuated during typhoons can now receive safe drinking water without outside help being necessary.

Thanks to you we’ve also added additional cooking facilities at the center. This is already allowing Buklod Tao’s “Community Kitchen” to provide even more hot meals to evacuees during typhoons.

Outside of typhoons one of the community development projects based at the center involves teaching vegetable gardening to families.  This provides families with better nutrition and more food security.

It’s a great project so we’ve recently supported its growth through the construction of a greenhouse at the center for seedlings.

This greenhouse, and all the other recent work at the center, was only possible because of your kind and generous donations.  Because of your gifts Buklod Tao will be able to help their own community even more in 2015.  Thanks so much for your support!

As always, if you ever have any questions about how we’re using your donations, please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I would be delighted to hear from you.

A rainwater harvesting system now stores 650 gls
A rainwater harvesting system now stores 650 gls
The new greenhouse helps with food security
The new greenhouse helps with food security
Thanks for helping Antonio and his grandchildren
Thanks for helping Antonio and his grandchildren

On September 19, 2014, Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (known locally as Mario) struck the Philippine island of Luzon. Heavy rain caused flooding in many areas, including across Metro Manila, and almost 130,000 people were forced from their homes.  

In Barangay Banaba, just outside of Manila, around 1,500 people were evacuated as nearby rivers burst their banks.

Evacuation is always a hard thing to endure.  It’s scary and cold.  People worry about their family and friends, and evacuees often have to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

But, thanks to your generosity, we were able to work with our local partner, Buklod Tao, to activate their “community kitchen”.  Cauldron’s of hot food were soon being prepared and these were sent to evacuation centers all around Banaba.  

Thanks to you, this “mobile” kitchen served hot, healthy meals to over 1,000 evacuees during tropical storm Mario.  These meals helped keep people healthy and provided comfort during difficult times.

Some of those who received hot meals were 74 year old Antonio and his grandchildren.  Antonio had this to say about the help he received:

“This community kitchen and food distribution is awesome; a big help to us who were given a bowl of sotanghon (noodles with cabbage) because we really lack means in food provision. I am very thankful and happy too because there are people like you who extend cooked food assistance to us."  

Without your donations, we wouldn’t have been there to make sure families like Antonio’s had a hot meal in their time of need. So, thank you so much!

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

Their sign says it all!
Their sign says it all!
 

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Organization Information

International Disaster Volunteers (IDV)

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

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