YOUR NOVEMBER peace mail from the Philippines
My name is Patricia and I am the Program Assistant in Disaster Risk Reduction for the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).
We experience 20 to 25 typhoons every year here in the Philippines, so about two or three typhoons every single month. These typhoons can be very strong and damaging and we are still recovering from the effects of Super Typhoon Haiyan which occurred in 2013 killing 6,200 people and displacing four million people. After this we realised we needed to better train the people in the most disaster-prone communities in order to protect lives and livelihoods.
In many of the communities where we work, people can’t afford sturdy houses and don’t have the resources to keep their farms from being flooded. So, they are vulnerable during typhoons and heavy rains. We help them to identify these problems and come up with solutions.
One example of what we do to better prepare communities against these typhoons was when we worked with local farming communities to identify and map their flood zones. We did this to help them design an irrigation system that diverts flood water away from homes and fields. About a month after we finished this particular project, a typhoon and monsoon rain hit the country. If it wasn’t for our work there, the farms would have flooded and because there was a proper irrigation canal, it saved their farms. This is life-changing.
The farmers in this area often rely on loans for their seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. If their farms get flooded, it means no income and no food for their families. They would also be in a deep cycle of debt. The fact that we helped them prevent the flood meant so much to them.
After responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, one of the lessons that we learned was that churches were doing their own humanitarian responses but they weren’t working together. So, for the past few years we’ve been working to unite the churches and equip them to help communities become better prepared for disasters as well as improve their capacity to assist in coordinated disaster response.
In times of disaster, the church plays an active role in helping their communities. People trust the church and the church will always be there, even when we can’t be. The COVID-19 pandemic meant we couldn’t visit the rural areas, even when Typhoon Vongfong hit the Philippines in May.
Unfortunately it is a reality that the typhoons won’t stop coming here just because we have a pandemic. So, to ensure assistance was available to families affected by storms we mobilised the churches and they prepared food packs, delivered sanitation kits and coordinated the emergency response with the local governments. With our training, pastors, priests and bishops are now able to respond to their own communities’ needs during times of disaster – even during COVID-19.
This is humbling for me as it reminds me to trust in the local indigenous knowledge and experience that they have. I know that if we continue to invest in the people themselves and support them with disaster management training and community projects that better protect them and prepare them for disasters, then this investment will continue to save lives.
Download this Peace Mail in pdf
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Many communities are still recovering from the devastating consequences of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed over 6,000 people in 2013. With your help, our partner on the ground, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), is working with disaster-prone communities to prepare for, and mitigate, the impact of future disasters.
The program helps to train local community members, including church leaders, to identify and reduce the risks they face, and to develop an emergency response plan that will help save lives when disaster strikes. You’re also providing communities with the tools to build resilience to natural disasters including floods, drought and typhoons.
Your gifts make a difference!
$1,660 can help with the formation of a community disaster preparedness committee as well as the creation of a disaster preparedness plan and associated training. This is lifesaving as it ensures an entire community knows what to do in the event of a disaster.
Below is a list of prayers for the Philippines from the World Council of Churches:
• The Government in the Philippines that they will eradicate corruption, establish justice and peace, and work effectively for the wellbeing of all their people.
• All those affected by earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters, and for the rebuilding of communities afterwards..
• Ecumenical and interfaith cooperation to bring justice, peace and sustainability to these lands.
More ways to take action
Remember someone in need through the Christmas Bowl.
By giving a monthly gift, you can help bring safety, justice and dignity to people around the world who have fled from conflict and natural disasters.
Give a gift that will make a lasting difference.