February 25, 2024

Bicol Express News

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PH dev’t NGOs bat for people-centered climate action and disaster response as country remembers Yolanda onslaught

The Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE NGO) is one with the nation in commemorating the 10th anniversary of the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda, one of the most powerful and deadliest tropical cyclones in history. Today, we remember and honor those who perished amidst this unprecedented tragedy, as well as the families and friends they left behind.

Yolanda, known internationally as Haiyan and classified as a Category 5 storm, slammed into the Visayas on November 8, 2013. The tropical cyclone killed around 6,300 people, injured more than 28,000 individuals, and affected more than 16 million persons across 44 provinces, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The said storm also damaged around a million homes and inflicted more than P89.5 billion in damages and P42.7 billion in losses.

CODE-NGO and its member networks were quick to mobilize its resources to assist both victims and responders. The coalition’s immediate post-Yolanda interventions included relief operations; cash assistance and early recovery support; livelihood recovery and rehabilitation projects; medical missions; psychosocial support; emergency shelter assistance and construction of housing units; reconstruction of classrooms and local health centers; distribution of school supplies, medical equipment, and solar panels; installation of water systems and other key utilities; support for young people and children; disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and climate change adaptation (CCA) planning; local budget and program interventions; multi-stakeholder coordination; and capacity development for victims and frontliners.

The coalition recognizes and commends the support and efforts of our international and local donors and partners and our national government and local government units in providing assistance to communities affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda and facilitating their rehabilitation and recovery. These multi-stakeholder and multisectoral engagements attest to the significance and necessity of a whole-of-society approach and participatory governance in addressing the impacts of climate change and developing effective interventions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As reaffirmed in its revised Covenant on Philippine Development, CODE-NGO remains committed to integrating this paradigm in its ongoing and future DRRM-CCA interventions. Through its Advancing CSO Engagement in DRRM-CCA (ACED) Project, the coalition sought to strengthen the capacity of its member networks and community partners in developing and implementing DRRM-CCA initiatives. Successful interventions under the said project included the formation of local DRRM coordination hubs; civil society-led monitoring of humanitarian responses and shelter assistance; community-based risk assessment; local damage and needs assessment; emergency response and resource mobilization; training of local DRRM champions; development of capacity development frameworks and training modules on DRRM and CCA; and creation of trailer’s pool.

Moreover, CODE-NGO, along with Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC), and National Secretariat for Social Action (NSSA) – Caritas Philippines, launched the Shared Aid Fund for Emergency Response (SAFER) to address the many gaps in financing local disaster relief efforts. Combining the expertise, networks, and geographical spread of these groups, the platform is the first locally led crowdfunding mechanism for disaster response and relief.

CODE-NGO hopes to build on these efforts and expand its partnership with the public and private sector by setting up the Philippine Hub of the START Network, a global alliance of humanitarian agencies and organizations. Anchored on community organizing and engaging national and local government actors, the said hub is envisioned to be a model for localization and resilience and a platform for coordination, learning, joint action, and leadership on humanitarian work in the Philippines. Moreover, the coalition will engage the Enhancing Resilient Communities (ERC) Flagship Initiative, a program of the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and now spearheaded by the UN Humanitarian Country Team, with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Office (UN OCHA) serving as its secretariat. The program seeks to secure predictable, long-term funding that allows for efficient resource allocation and ensure a more impactful use of pooled funds.

In the long run, CODE-NGO calls for a rethinking and reimagining of development work and humanitarian action across the board. In the past decade, Super Typhoon Yolanda, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other recent emergencies exposed the vulnerabilities of existing humanitarian and development paradigms. It is now widely recognized that these emergencies were mainly caused by human action and inaction and our failure to maintain a harmonious and respectful relationship with nature.

It is therefore crucial that we acknowledge the social dimensions of the ongoing climate crisis, the effects of which are felt unevenly among countries. Despite its minimal contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, the Philippines is now one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the negative impacts of the unprecedented pace of climate change in recent years. Communities across the country are bearing the full brunt of this crisis and experiencing the devastating consequences of rising sea levels, growingly frequent tropical cyclones, and worsening droughts.

The times call for a renewed solidarity towards upholding climate justice, building the resilience of our communities, and facilitating anticipatory action in preparation for future calamities and emergencies. In achieving these ends, people should be front and center of the nexus between development work and humanitarian action. Local non-government organizations, people’s organizations, and communities should be provided platforms to exact accountability and demand transparency from public and private institutions complicit in the ongoing climate crisis and co-develop holistic, responsive, and inclusive interventions for climate action and disaster risk reduction and management. On the other hand, the government and the private sector should strive to fulfill their commitments on climate action, humanitarian aid, and development and offer adequate support to all key stakeholders in all stages of disaster risk reduction and management.

Ten years after the landfall of Super Typhoon Yolanda, we remember not only the anguish of our people during one of our darkest moments in the past decade, but also the heroism of ordinary people, the courage and determination of affected communities, and the strength of a nation brought together by hope.