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ASDSW-SDCS 2016-2018 General Report

Natural and Manmade Disasters in the Philippines

September 26th 2009, Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) made landfall in Luzon dumping over 12” of rain in 6 hrs on Manila and other parts of the National Capital Region. This caused massive urban flooding, 280+ deaths, destroyed homes and shelters of millions of people. Five days later, typhoon Pepeng (Parma) made landfall in northern Luzon, devastating agriculture in the Cagayan Valley. It then hung around the north west coast making landfall two more times and dumping up to 6’of water in some areas, causing massive and deadly landslides resulting in another 380+ people losing their lives. Dams in Luzon released water causing flash floods and many major cities are still flooded as government and relief agencies struggle to cope with the massive destruction. Currently there are approximately 500,000 people living in Evacuation Centers in Luzon and millions more piecing together their lives and living in areas that are still flooded. This is actually an annual occurrence affecting many areas of the Philippines. Typhoons in 2006 hit Manila and Bicol causing massive damage and loss of life.

It was absolutely inspiring to see the heroic efforts of those who helped in the immediate response to these disasters. Witnessing the resiliency and resourcefulness of people helping others, the outpouring of donations of money, food and clothing are a reflection of the generous human spirit. However, in the midst of all the generosity and relief efforts, astounding inefficiencies and lack of coordination can actually have a large negative impact on the rebuilding process. After the Bicol typhoons there was a call by many relief and government agencies to coordinate relief efforts and work together to prepare communities for these situations. Though there have been general meetings to mobilize local water and sanitation organizations and international relief agencies to develop protocols, emergency preparation efforts have been discussed, ideas proposed, but sadly, have not been coordinated nor implemented.

In general, there are four phases in addressing emergencies: preparedness, response, relief and rehabilitation. Each phase must be equally coordinated and strengthened in order to minimize risk and loss of life. In the Philippines, we are hard-pressed for strong and efficient protocols to roll out any of these phases for a few reasons.

First, the Philippines is the most disaster-prone region in all of Southeast Asia. Each year, typhoons and monsoons cause landslides, flooding and other devastating effects on communities all over the country. Also, with ongoing conflict in Mindanao, manmade disasters have caused major destruction in areas creating large populations of internally displaced people (IDPs). With the frequency of very different kinds of disasters, it has been difficult for communities as well as aid NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to try and implement effective and appropriate plans for preparedness and response.

Second, the inefficiencies of the stakeholders have been a deterrent in implementing emergency preparedness and disaster response protocols. Dealing with a number of large International NGOs (INGOs) and under-resourced government agencies with different strategies, techniques and target areas has made it difficult to organize any kind of coordinated efforts such as communications, info gathering and sharing, technology implementation and supply availabilities and distribution. To make matters worse, without these protocols in place, local government units have to wait for the Federal government to declare their areas disaster regions in need of federal support. Proper reporting from the field with the necessary information to make the declaration is crucial for timely and appropriate actions to be implemented.

Third, badly designed and implemented technologies such as toilets or wells have created adverse short term and long term effects on relief and rehabilitation. Technology implementation is often contracted out to foreign contractors with little experience in the country and focused only on immediate implementation with short term relief.

Further, we’ve found in working with these larger agencies who specialize in humanitarian relief that they have little or no basic documentation or manuals on how to build these facilities. There is very little quality control or follow-up and the failure rate is high. Although ASDSW is not a relief agency, we are in the process of developing materials along with these agencies so that response can be quicker and much more effective.

Lastly, because of the frequency of these disasters in the same general areas, local people have built a sense of resilience as it is not uncommon for many communities to live through the same tragedy more often than in other areas. Trying to mobilize communities and implement preparedness protocols in communities who have endured such disasters as frequent as many have, there is a sense of futility that overrides need for organizing.

With these recent typhoons, our projects in Luzon have been affected. One of our partner communities in Rizal Province located on an island in the middle of a river have been flooded out. Because of the sheer magnitude of the task ahead, ASDSW has two engineers working with to Oxfam to develop and implement better water and sanitation technologies and techniques. For example, one of our engineers has designed an innovative toilet on stilts or “loo with a view”, and is determined to develop a floating toilet (probably with a poop deck). We are also working towards better design for wells and rehabilitating existing wells as another way to ensure long term use in a case where the evacuation center must be used again in future disasters.

Regardless of the fact that some of the most devastating typhoons in our nation’s history have affected communities all over the Philippines in the last three years, this outcry has reached international audiences because it hit Manila, our country’s capitol. Pictures of flood devastated areas in the city prompted phone calls from celebrities pleading for help, which provided momentum for the mobilization of resources from within and outside the country. If Typhoon Ondoy had not hit Manila perhaps these efforts would have been severely under-resourced and the outcry over this tragedy may have been minimal as we’ve seen happen so often in the past.

As tragic as these natural disasters are, most people reading this, as well as most Filipinos that do not reside in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) do not realize that one of the worst ongoing disasters in the country, if not the world is occurring 1,600 km south of Manila. There has been ongoing conflict in this region for decades between the government and the groups Muslim Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Muslim National Liberation Front (MNLF). Peace treaties have been brokered and broken for years but in August 2008, peace talks between the government and MILF broke down. As a result, the numbers of people displaced has varied from 280,000 up to 1,000,000. Currently, this number is now estimated at 330,000 to 400,000 displaced people and is expected to remain until after the election in May 2010. Ongoing efforts by relief agencies have been hindered by the failure to cooperate from both sides as well as a lack of resources available or offered in the area. The withholding of food aid is occurring along with many human rights abuses violated on both the government and the MILF. This situation is worsening rapidly as dwindling resources already stretched thin in the region are now being diverted to Luzon for the typhoon relief.

Throughout 2008 and 2009 ASDSW worked hand in hand with seven Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Peoples Organizations (PO) and Local Government Units (LGU) to build the Water and Sanitation capacity of thirty-one municipalities throughout ARMM. Reports from our staff noted nearby shelling while meeting with POs and LGUs; traveling to worksites through multiple check points; the killing of one of our CSO partners; trainings conducted while armed police and military looked on. Despite the ongoing conflict, ASDSW staff and our partners demonstrated tremendous dedication and kept faithful the belief we were doing the right thing.

As a testament to their hard work and relentless commitment, the culmination of over fifty small projects in these areas have implemented water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects which have impacted over 5,000 families. To further ensure sustainability, we have established mechanisms in all thirty-one municipalities to help them design, plan and implement WASH projects. Nearly half are now functional and proactively implementing their plans.

ASDSW is now working with OXFAM and two other local CSOs to implement a better WASH strategy for Evacuation Centers and Home Based IDPs. This also includes the development of handbooks and designs to overcome the issues that are facing already installed interventions, e.g. sanitation, water treatment, wells. Because of the deep need in ARMM, ASDSW has opened a satellite office in Cotabato City, Mindanao.

As climate change impacts become more frequent and devastating, the development of disaster management protocols is crucial in mitigating risk. Investment to engage and educate the communities in appropriate preparedness, response and relief programs can make the rehabilitation and rebuilding of their own communities less devastating. ASDSW works with communities to build their resilience and better equip them for the impending disasters, which if the last three years proves, can be an annual expectation.

Kevin Lee and Gemma Bulos

35,000 PEOPLE IMPACTED IN THE Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao!

A Single Drop for SafeWater attended a celebration of Governance symposium hosted by the Local Governance Support Program in the ARMM Provinces in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as they honored LGU accomplishments as a result of their programs. Seven municipalities were in attendance and eighteen awards were given to LGUs who transformed in the areas of governance, economic development, gender and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). It was announced that over 7000 households, about 35,000 people were impacted by ASDSWs trainings!

ASDSW was key in the LGSPA WASH Program by collaborating in the development of an innovative WASH Program to assist LGUs to assess their own needs and design efficient municipal wide WASH plans by strengthening local NGOs and Government organizations. ASDSW conducted trainings to support MWTFs, WSAs, and local NGOs to conduct WASH Trainings, implement various appropriate technologies. ASDSWs goal was to create Regional PODS which are local organizations which can build the capacity of local communities to implement sustainable water projects.

What they said about WASH:

  • the WASH process works by helping LGUs identify their needs and make plans that can actually be sustained
  • setting up the mechanisms to support the coordination of Municipal WASH Task Force (MWTF) and Water Sanitation Associations (WSAs) for long term management
  • strengthening local NGOs to be implementing organizations working in collaboration with MWTF and WSA

Two municipalities who were the recipients of ASDSW workshops were recognized

  • Kabuntalan – This LGU was recognized after they changed from desire to build a level III water system (water piped into homes) to a dugwell protection and sanitation toilet construction project. After attending the WASH Analysis and Planning Workshops and ASDSWs technology trainings, the LGU made a more efficient plan
  • Sultan Kudarat – This LGU had initially learned the BioSand Filter and after attending the WASH Analysis Planning and ASDSWs technology trainings, they also began to offer the service of building toilets and have been selling both toilets and BSFs.
Other great outcomes
  • Dimampao – This group was trained to build BioSand Filters by a local PODS that ASD created in Datu Abdullah Sangki. They have since sold 200 filters including 25 to the Governer! They’ve since earned enough money to buy a tric!
  • Act for Peace – an NGO were commissioned to conduct WASH Analysis and Planning after being trained by ASDSW in Kadtabanga. After the workshop, Kadtabanga initially wanted to build a Level II water system (water piped to community tapstands) but decided to do dugwell improvement and toilets instead!
The BEST News! Kevin Lee and Noraida Chio of ASDSW were key contributors to the LGSPA published “WASH Field Guide: The Governance Approach to Delivery of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene”. Download a copy here.

ASDSW opens a Satellite Office in Cotabato City!

ASDSW has been working in the ARMM Provinces for the past 3 years where we have seen significant impact and transformation. One of our main programs was in partnership with LGSPA (Local Governance Support Program in ARMM) to develop the WASH Inventory and Analysis Workshop and to strengthen the capacity of Municipal WASH Task Force (MWTF), the Water Sanitation Associations (WSAs) and local NGOs to be able to create effective WASH Plans to address the water and sanitation needs of their communities.

ASDSWs permanent presence in the ARMM is a commitment to continue to support the expansion of this program as well as work with other communities not within the program. ASDSW also partners with OXFAM, Church of the Latter Day Saints and the International Red Cross focusing on emergency evacuation regions and strengthening emergency preparedness, response and rehabilitation.

Dupak .

Portable Microbiology in the Field

Lupang Pangako, Zambales

Lupang Pangako is the final relocation site for the Aeta People of Belbel who have been displaced from their original homes made uninhabitable by the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991. A Single Drop for SafeWater conducted a PODS training to create a community-based water organization to rehabilitate and maintain an existing deep well to pump water to tapstands around the community to provide better access to clean water.

ASD introduced the PML to the Lupang Pungako PODS so they can use the tests to test their various sources of water. ASD and the PODS went around the community testing water from water holes, rivers and the tap stands from the rehabilitated water system. To also support WASH Education, we also tested different circumstances where water can be recontaminated, e.g. storage containers, water transport, etc…

The Portable Microbiology Lab enables local people to test their water without expensive equipment or labs. Access to these tests have been a significant factor in providing proof that water is either contaminated or safe.

The power of this information strengthens hygiene education and promotes proper hygiene practices.

Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. ASDSW works with the local Water Service Associations, Municipal Water Task Forces and Community Service Organizations to provide them with the tools and outreach strategies to educate the community about their water. Here are some of the members testing their water!

And the results are in……three (3) out of the four (4) major water sources are contaminated. whew!!! Now the community knows which water sources are contaminated and just how dirty they are. This is the first step towards behavior change and implementation of viable interventions!