Hope and courage in the face of disasters
Gina Duran, Protection Monitor for the B-READY Project, facilitates a session on Financial Literacy for the youth of Barangay Butig, Salcedo, Eastern Samar (Photo: Jhomar Padullo/PDRRN)
After facing some of the most destructive typhoons that hit her province, Gina Duran is confident of thefuture. At 52, she is one of the selected volunteers who were trained as protection monitors under the B-READY Project.
As an active volunteer and mother-leader herself, there is nothing else that she desires more than her familyand community’s safety in times of calamities and disasters, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Duran lives in Barangay Butig, an island community that has seen the worst of times. In 2013, Butig and the Salcedo municipality in Eastern Samar, bore the brunt of STY Haiyan — one of the strongest typhoons to make landfall in recorded history. STY Haiyan wreaked havoc across the region, resulting in more than 6,000 deaths and the massive loss of livelihoods and properties.
“I have so many experiences in calamities, mostly typhoons because this is what hit us often. When the waterrises, there is always the danger of storm surge or even tsunami,” Duran recalls.
The memories of STY Haiyan still haunt her, but her pains and fears have now become fuel to face the futurewith hope and courage.
“I will never forget STY Haiyan. The only way that we surpassed it was because we helped each other and we relied on our community. We faced it with courage and faith in God,” Duran says.
Serving the community through B-READY
In 2019, the barangay LGU invited Duran to join a pool of community volunteers who will be assigned as protection monitors to the nine priority barangays (villages) of the project.
“There were so many lessons I learned about calamities. I attended DRR orientations and drills that B-READY organized for us. I had good experiences in attending the seminars, especially before COVID-19, because we were able to go to other places while learning,” she says.
Protection monitors are representatives from different pilot barangays who were trained to assist andrespond to community members’ needs specially when a disaster warning has been raised. Aside from undergoing disaster preparation training, they are also entrusted to help monitor cases related to gender, safeguarding and protection especially of those who belong to the most vulnerable sectors in Salcedo such aspregnant and lactating women, single mothers, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Aside from these assuming these responsibilities, they are also in charge of reporting safeguarding cases,such as those arising from or related to cash disbursements, through the referral pathway that was installedin the municipality of Salcedo, in coordination with the barangay councils in charge of women and children’s welfare.
Protection monitors also help organize community drills to increase the barangay members’ level ofpreparedness using the EWS that has been integrated into the B-READY Project.
Recently, Duran led a training session on financial literacy for youth and adolescents in Barangay Butig. Herefforts not only provide additional skills and knowledge but highlight the importance of engaging andencouraging women and other vulnerable groups to become visible and lead in local DRRM.
“The most important experience that I gained with B-READY is that I was able to share my knowledge and help my community. We can assist specially with the B-READY Project,” she shares.
One of the main goals of the B-READY Project is to better protect vulnerable households from naturaldisasters through a pre-disaster cash transfer program using digital weather forecasting and risk modeling technologies plus a local ecosystem that allows the implementation of a pre-disaster cash transfer program.
As a mother of five, Duran understands the stress experienced by families when there are approaching typhoons and the importance of having cash in hand in anticipation of the displacement that can ensue.
“Having the pre-emptive cash assistance has helped us a lot. Unlike before, assistance comes after the typhoon. At least now, even before the typhoon comes, we already receive cash assistance and we can buy what we need even before the typhoon arrives,” she notes.
Over time, there has been a growing recognition of the effectiveness of cash as an approach to meeting the different needs of people affected by crisis, particularly women and other at- risk individuals, who often find themselves disadvantaged by gender-blind policies, development, and evenhumanitarian aid.
Cash widens people’s choices to improve their livelihood outcomes, supports better preparedness during emergencies and enables them to bounce back quickly from the shocks and stresses of disasters.
When asked about what else could be done to improve disaster preparedness in her own Barangay Butig, Duran shares: “It would be best if my neighbors will be able to learn from the training on DRR so that they would know more. Also, people here need more opportunities to have a source of income. It would be beneficial for all of us.”
Duran and the other protection monitors have also been tapped by the barangay LGU to help in thecommunity awareness campaigns at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes that through their effort, more members of Barangay Butig will beprepared when calamities come.
“My hope for myself is that I will have more knowledge to be able to help more people as a volunteer; and for my community, that it will be peaceful and orderly. Even now that there is an ongoing pandemic, Barangay Butig will always be ready. Thank you very much, B-READY,” she says with much optimism.
The Building Resilient, Adaptive, and Disaster-Ready Communities (B-READY) Project is a two-year pilot project that aims to better protect vulnerablehouseholds from natural disasters through a pre-disaster cash transfer program using two innovations: first, the use of digital weather forecasting and risk modeling technologies as part of the local communities’ early warning systems (EWS) and trigger mechanisms for early response; and second, the use of financial services provision technologies and a local financial ecosystem that would allow for safe and secure pre-disaster cash transfer programming.
The B-READY project was a collaboration of a consortium of partners, namely: Local Government of Salcedo, Eastern Samar; People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network; PayMaya Philippines; Global Parametrics; and Plan International. Over the past two years, the project reached almost 9,300 individuals in nine barangays (villages) in Salcedo with access to digital financial services, literacy trainings, and pre-disaster cash grants for two devastating typhoons; supported theaccreditation of 17 community-based cash agents for disbursement of cash grants; jointly developed and tested the triggers of typhoon parametric index; strengthened safeguarding mechanisms during emergencies; and facilitated local government adoption of a resolution for using parametric index as part of disaster EWS.