Volunteer-powered monitoring system points where relief is needed most

When the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented in the National Capital Region (NCR) in March 2020, the government, private sector and civil society organizations (CSOs) quickly mobilized their resources to help the most vulnerable communities. Relief operations were initiated and the ‘bayanihan spirit’ of the Filipino people was tested. 

But the severity of the situation provided limited time for planning and mapping out of where to distribute resources, and what type of relief is needed particularly in the NCR, where the pandemic hit the hardest . Without data to show how relief goods were distributed, especially at the barangay level, households most in need of support were overlooked and left out.

With this situation, the Help from Home PH (HFH) and Urbanismo teamed up to design a Barangay Monitoring System for COVID-19 relief efforts. HFH has put together an information hub containing various COVID-19 relief and response efforts for medical frontliners and families-at-risk. Meanwhile, Urbanismo helped create a coordinated response to ensure that the poorest and the most vulnerable communities in Metro Manila were given relief assistance. The information and data collection system ensured that the poorest and most vulnerable sectors in NCR were prioritized in terms of getting relief assistance during the ECQ period. This has assisted CSOs and local governments on accurate resource allocation.

Barangay and community participation

Karlo Abadines, a member of HFH, said that the goal behind this project was to bridge the resources with the needs of the poor communities.

“We targeted 500 barangays from seven major cities, and we thought that these barangays are the most in need of help. Our goal is to map that out.”

A website was created where groups and individuals can search hospitals or communities that are lacking supplies and necessities. HFH is also exploring building up capacities of volunteer networks, using their data for donors to respond efficiently.

Tanya Quijano from Urbanismo shared that the data gathering from both HFH and their group involved two streams: Stream A, where the two groups tapped barangay officials for data collection and Stream B, where they utilized community leaders for data validation.

“We already have partnerships with communities and community-based organizations. So, we mobilized the so-called “Nanay network”, composed of Pantawid Pamilya members, as volunteers in this effort. Through messenger chatbot, our volunteers gathered data, and exchanged updates about the project,” she said.

The teams monitored the weekly needs of the identified barangays and surveyed how the relief distribution is being done.

Community-based approach

Based on the data gathered between May to July, HFH and Urbanismo were able to come up with recommendations to line agencies and CSOs. These include strengthening of community-based actions in the distribution of relief assistance, rapid assessment, and data management.

“We have seen how important the community leaders are in becoming the voice and our guide on where to allocate resources. The end to end model ensures that feedback from the community will be incorporated into the planning, procurement, and logistics of relief operations”, Tanya said.

Tanya added that the study also helped a group of CSOs called “COVID Warriors” to target their relief distributions to the most affected communities.

The Peace and Equity Foundation, a member of said coalition, saw the potential of the barangay-level monitoring system.

“In rural areas where PEF has strong links with the communities, this system can be replicated in our partner communities, wherein we can utilize data monitors in the areas for information gathering,” Senior Information Management Office Laurinette Gonzalez said.


Check these websites for more info on HFH and Urbanismo:

Help from Home: https://helpfromhome.ph/

UrbanisMO: https://urbanismo.ph/