PEF and partners prepare for future disasters

In celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction,

The countries of the Asia-Pacific region are facing urgent climate variability pressures that are threatening the cornerstones of development – economic growth and poverty reduction.

The Philippines is at the top-most worldwide ranking in terms of hazard exposure brought about by climate change variability as well as its geologic position in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

As the world observes the 13th of October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction (DRR) to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), together with the Association of Foundations (AF), conducted a three-day learning event on “Building a Culture of Resilience, Strengthening Disaster Preparedness” to expound and share on the experiences of PEF partners, which will contribute to the national disaster risk reduction in general, build community resilience of social enterprises, and identify lessons to enrich DRR strategies and plans of PEF partners.

Present during the learning event, which was held in Linden Suites, Ortigas from October 13-15, were representatives from civil society organizations, DRR and social enterprise (SE) partners of PEF, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s Deputy Director Mr. Romeo Fajardo, and Governor Joey Salceda who shared how his province’s disaster risk reduction strategies prepared Albay from adverse impacts of calamities and disasters.

PEF’s Response

A key element in the poverty reduction efforts of PEF is helping the poor communities be more resilient to climate change. PEF has assisted communities during some of the Philippines’ most serious catastrophes since 2004.

PEF works with different groups in doing relief and rescue operations during and after disasters. Apart from that, the Foundation also provides assistance to and forges partnerships with local, national and international institutions in building climate-resilient and communities through capacity-building, housing and relocation, and providing window for developing social enterprises and livelihood opportunities. With its partners, PEF aims to lead affected communities towards economic recovery.

According to Roberto R. Calingo, PEF Executive Director, catastrophic risks have become the new norm nowadays. “Before, major typhoons and earthquakes only happen every two years. Now, they happen every year and bring tragedy to the affected communities. We know these calamities will happen again.”

He said that when disaster strikes, the first 72 hours is the most critical period. “During this period, international agencies are not yet present. As development organizations, we are the first responders yet we are also victims. It is difficult if we do not have the mechanisms to respond immediately,” Calingo shared.

To equip, PEF adopted policies, and developed and established a fund dedicated to disaster response and rehabilitation.

Some of the projects that PEF supported include relief and livelihood assistance for barangay Bahao, Libmanan Camarines Sur; micro-enterprise financing and training on climate-smart technologies; learning exchanges and workshops on DRR; and site development and construction in Cagayan de Oro, among others.

BUSWACC’s Disaster Rehabilitation Plan

The three-day learning event discussed lessons learned along four thematic areas of the National Disaster Risk and Management Plan for 2011-2028: Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Response and Disaster Rehabilitation and Recovery.

Experiences of different sectors (non-government organizations, national government agencies, funding organizations, etc.) in reducing risks and reinforcing community resilience particularly the challenges amidst the obstacles they faced, and how they responded smartly.

It offered an opportunity for the participants to see the initiatives and the progress made by DRR partners, one of them is the Bol-anon United Sectors Working for Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC), Inc.

Since 2006, BUSWACC has been supporting people’s organizations and enterprises that create livelihood for the enterprising poor of Bohol.  As a result, BUSWACC developed proficiency in managing its microfinance portfolio and its fair trade shop, the marketing arm of partner communities.

When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol in 2013, BUSWACC, in partnership with PEF, established the Bohol Recovery Fund to rehabilitate local economic activities

As of the moment, BUSWACC has conducted trainings with different barangays in Bohol with partner clients to help them craft their own community based DRR plans, which include the introduction of rice duck farming and use of renewable energy.

Part of the future plans of BUSWACC is to strengthen partnerships with other local institutions. According to Alvin A. Curaz, Executive Director of BUSWACC, “we’re not just looking at individuals but also collaborate with other players on the ground to secure households. We will continue to promote and support initiatives on building the capacity and technical know-how of partner organizations to create disaster-proof communities”.

PEF’s 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan

PEF, since 2011, has been helping poor households by supporting, promoting, and scaling up sustainable social enterprises in communities to help rural households gain better incomes and move out of poverty.

As PEF scales up in its new cycle, PEF will also facilitate investments in climate change, an additional “C” to its social enterprises of C5 clusters: cane sugar, cacao, coffee, coconut, climate smart agriculture.

With all these setbacks that tested the Filipino resiliency, PEF realized that aside from promoting social enterprises as means to transform poor communities, it should also prepare its partners in the disaster forefront of emergency response efforts.

“Beyond financing, social enterprises should integrate risk management systems for business continuity and organizational sustainability”, added Mr. Calingo.

In PEF’s 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan, PEF recognizes that climate change has an impact in the social enterprise and the community where it operates.

As the Foundation and the enterprises grow, risks associated with growth and competitiveness also grow. Thus, there is a need to strengthen disaster risk reduction and mitigation strategies to business planning and processes.

PEF will continue to capacitate its partners and strengthen its networks to serve as empowered bodies, able to anticipate and respond to disasters