Pre-typhoon aid empowers mother to prepare for Odette

Dolores Basijan bought medicines, mineral water and other stuff after she received an amount of Php 1,800 from the B-Ready project preemptive cash assistance. (Photo: Alren Beronio/Oxfam)

Dolores Basijan bought medicines, mineral water and other stuff after she received an amount of Php 1,800 from the B-Ready project preemptive cash assistance. (Photo: Alren Beronio/Oxfam)

Despite the gloomy weather and the threat of an approaching storm, Dolores Basijan could not help but smile on her way out of a remittance center.

The 41-year-old mother immediately proceeded to the public market in Salcedo town in Eastern Samar to buy some necessities for her family, including a four-month-old baby.

Basijan, a resident of Barangay Palanas, had just encashed the P1,700 pre-disaster cash assistance she received as part of the Building Resilient, Adaptive, and Disaster Ready Communities (B-READY) project.

The project is jointly implemented by Oxfam Novib, Oxfam Pilipinas, People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network, PLAN International, PayMaya, Smart Padala, Global Parametrics, and the Local Government of Salcedo in Eastern Samar.

"The P1,700 that I had received is a big help to our family, especially now that I have heard that there is an approaching typhoon that will hit our town," Dolores said.

She was referring to super typhoon 'Odette' (international name: Rai) which was tracked to hit the coastal town of Dolores between December 15 to 16.

"I will use this to buy some bottled water and diapers for my baby. I have already bought some food using our remaining money for the day," she added.

Before collecting the money from a remittance center, Basijan and her husband Anthony, 44, had finished selling fish at the town proper, more than four kilometers away from their home.

The mother of four children said her husband used to catch fish which she peddles in the main streets of Salcedo before their fishing boat was damaged a month ago. Now, they sell fish purchased from local fishers.

Their family’s daily income declined. The unsold fishes serve as viand for their family for the day.

"We just depend on selling fish at the town proper from early morning until all the fish is sold. Our income is not enough to meet our daily needs," she said.

B-READY provides anticipatory financial aid for only the most vulnerable members of the community and if pre-agreed triggers about the strength of the typhoon are met.

Partner communities can withdraw the pre-disaster cash assistance via remittance center partners before the projected typhoon hits the town. Oxfam Pilipinas partnered with PayMaya and Smart Padala to make cash assistance more accessible.

"I am really glad that there is this kind of program," she said. "This is a very good initiative by Oxfam, as we can buy the needed essentials days before a typhoon strikes."

Basijan emphasized that the pre-disaster cash assistance they received from the B-READY Project has provided them a sense of security, especially when there is an impending disaster.

"We will no longer be worried about where to get money to buy our needs during a disaster, as we are now prepared days ahead," she said.

Gone are the days they will have to wait for government assistance during a calamity, she added.

This sentiment of Basijan is also being shared by Lilia Elascion, 61, another resident of Palanas.

Elascion, whose family depends on selling dried fish and a small 'sari-sari store' as their sources of income, is also a project participant of the B-READY project.

The mother of eight children said that it is now easier for them to evacuate whenever there is an impending typhoon knowing that they will not get hungry.

"Whenever our barangay officials ask us to evacuate, we immediately do so because we are confident that we have money to buy our needs while staying at the evacuation center," she said.

Elascion was able to buy at least a sack of rice using the money she received from the B-READY project, which she equally distributes to her four children and their respective families.

Elascion said the financial assistance is a great help to their family.

"We also have more sense of responsibility on what to do before a typhoon happens," she said.

In addition to the anticipatory action, Oxfam Pilipinas and partners are also providing life-saving support to families affected by Typhoon Odette in Palawan, Leyte and Southern Leyte and Siargao islands in Surigao del Norte.