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Recovery after Odette

 

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Indigenous and local communities still vulnerable to natural disasters aggravated by climate change.

A month after the devastating category 5 typhoon Odette (Rai) last December 16, 2021, affected communities are focused on their recovery. Through the urgent action grant mechanism, Samdhana Institute was able to contribute to the relief and recovery efforts of community partners.

In Surigao City, several indigenous Badjao community leaders, together with the support organization, Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (DOLSH) engaged in a series of meetings with the Local Government Unit (LGU), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to discuss the relocation plan.

The government plans to remove the Badjaos who live in stilt houses along the port areas, and we're one of those heavily struck by the typhoon. The temporary relocation site is another coastal location, at least 5kilometers away.

Situation of the Badjao stilt homes in the typhoon aftermath in Surigao City.

Situation of the Badjao stilt homes in the typhoon aftermath in Surigao City.

The women-led Badjao Association asked the local authorities to reconsider these plans given that their families, especially the children, will be unfamiliar with the new environment, and they feared that the host community may not be prepared to accept them. The NCIP committed to host another meeting to resolve this concern.

The DOLSH Sisters were instrumental in reaching out to help secure assistance for the Badjao community.

Part of the urgent grant will be for purchasing four (4) heavy-duty fishing boats. Each boat will be shared by at least three (3) families. Inspired by Samdhana’s support, a Columban Lay Missionary based in Korea was able to raise funds for more fishing boats. This will enable no fewer than 51 families to secure their daily needs. Other groups who assisted were the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSWD) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and Sta. Josefa Rescue and Emergency Services (SJRES) from Agusan del Sur.

There is also plan for a medical mission soon. Several children suffered from fever, stomach-borne diseases, cough and colds. Anti-tetanus shots were needed for those who had stepped on nails from the typhoon debris. Nanay Dahila Araman, one of the leaders, still suffered inflammation of her left shoulder when she fell from their stilt house at the height of the typhoon. She was so happy with the outpouring of support. As a people, they rarely experience being given priority, especially by the government. This is one of the reasons that many Badjao find their living begging in the streets for survival. The recovery efforts will hopefully be a concerted action to help the Badjao families lessen their vulnerabilities to recurring natural disasters.

There are many actors making their own contribution to help families regain their normal lives, including the academe. The Department of Sociology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, CARAGA State University initiated the fundraising to furnish roofing materials for a few families in Cantugas, Mainit, Surigao del Norte. They are currently continuing with their fundraising to reach their target of at least 733 GI Sheets.

Local organizations are best-placed to address the emergent needs in disasters, like Peace Pond Farmers Association, Inc. They prioritized to secure filters from the Alternative Indigenous Foundation, Inc. (AIDFI) to ensure clean drinking water for families who lost their water sources in Barangay Amontay, Binalbagan. MASIPAG-Visayas also identified water needs as a priority and undertook the clean-up and decontamination of water wells in Central & Southern Negros Occidental.

Samdhana’s grant of PhP 50,000 was contributed to the funds pooled from Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) which donated P320,000.00 and the Visayas cluster’s counterpart of P22,000.00 for the equipment and food packs.
Samdhana, with funding support from Global Greengrants Fund, provided a total of $17,408 or PhP848,600 in total for the urgent and recovery grants to 9 partners for Typhoon Odette.

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