Responding to the Evolving Needs of INCREASE Communities
Cagayan Province, where two INCREASE municipalities (Amulung and Cagayan) are located, have been heavily devastated by a series of typhoons—Category 3 Typhoon Molave, Category 5 Super Typhoon Goni, and Category 4 Typhoon Vamco in a span of three weeks. This has brought the worst flooding the province has recorded for the last 40 years. The lost lives, livelihood, and shelter exacerbated the already difficult situations of the communities whose mobility and sources of income have been limited because of the pandemic.
Before the disaster
Before the onslaught of the disasters, INCREASE field team has been deployed to conduct community risk assessments and community-based disaster risk reduction and management trainings in Amulung and Gattaran. In such activities, farmers and fishers, along with women, the elderly, youth, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable persons provided valuable insights on sector-specific hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities in their communities. The barangay captain from Brgy. Annabuculan, Amulung, Cagayan expressed his newfound appreciation for how preparedness measures should be conducted. He appreciated the Community Risk Assessment conducted by INCREASE in their barangay, saying “the information [we] learned were useful and helped us realize the importance of assessments and conducting early action in order to mitigate the disaster.” This has proven how important such activities in building the capacities of the communities in responding to disasters. In addition, information materials such as primers on hazards and evacuation measures were also distributed to community members to help them prepare for the typhoons. The team also coordinated with the barangay DRRM council and monitored and disseminated information from PAGASA so it can be shared with community members.
The team has also proceeded with household selection for resilient livelihood activities. During which, they have identified the evolving needs of the community. Because of the pandemic, community members are restricted to travel and need to secure food sources within their area. Together with the local government, the team will help them establish communal gardens which can help sustain the food needs of the community while also diversifying their source of income. Organic farming orientations promoting sustainable farming techniques were also implemented in the area. As farmers and community members are used to synthetic farming, the orientations helped them gain knowledge on natural farming practices that do not cause harm to the ecosystem.
During the flooding disaster, the team has also been present on the ground. It helped in the facilitation of resource mobilization for emergency response and aid delivery, through conducting assessments in INCREASE areas and participating in the joint Rapid Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (RDANA). Its visibility increased the local government’s trust and support for the project.
The team has also seen this as an opportunity to lobby for the mainstreaming of integrated risk management in local development plans, since the disaster was caused by the inter-linkages of disasters, climate change impacts, and ecosystem degradation. It has also initiated landscape-wide early warning systems to be established.
INCREASE or Increasing the Resilience to Natural Hazards aims to increase the resilience of 45,000 women and men small-scale farmers and fishers, including 720 extreme poor female-headed households, to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. The project is supported by the SKala initiative. SKala is driven by the German entrepreneur Susanne Klatten in partnership with the think tank and non-profit consultancy PHINEO.