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Building Partnership in The Philippines

Debbie Toribio, Country Director of Food for the Hungry Philippines, shares about their partnership with Medair when another disaster struck the region …

Photo: Food for the Hungry, Tarpaulin Distribution

What was the situation you responded to?
Typhoon Nona reached Catarman on 14 December 2015. The typhoon impacted about 90% of Northern Samar provinces leaving 65,000 families homeless. The National Government agencies, together with local and provincial governments, responded quickly by distributing rice and other food supplies. However, providing shelter was a challenge as government help was limited. They prioritised selected communities and numerous families could not be reached. Also, the rain continued to fall in Northern Samar.

Janette Borac, our Regional Manager, lives in Bicol region. On her way to Bicol, passing through Northern Samar, Janette saw the devastation of Typhoon Nona and felt so moved she asked Heidi Cockram, Medair’s Country Director, what materials FH could distribute in Northern Samar. We got approval from the FH leadership to conduct a response, as this was not our normal area of operation.  After we assessed what materials were available, assessment and planning started straight away. 

What you did do in response?
The assessment and validation of the list of families was not possible without the help of our partner churches in Northern Samar. Although these churches were victims themselves of Typhoon Nona’s devastation, it didn’t stop them from helping and serving others in need. And according to them, it would have been very hard to reach their neighbours without organisations like us to help. Doing the distribution of the tarpaulins, ropes and vinyl is something that the churches were thankful for as it provided a concrete testimony of how the church serves those in need. Those families who were not reached by the government were assisted by various churches, with the ropes, vinyl and tarpaulins providing families with immediate makeshift roofing.

What more were you able to do because of the Medair partnership?
We have been partners with Medair since Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck in November 2013. My experience of working together, through sharing expertise and resources, is that it brings synergy to achieve our goals with great results.

Do you have comments about Integral?
We have seen the benefit of being part of Integral Alliance with the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. The work that we have done in Western Samar would not have been possible without the support of Integral and its Members. We have broadened our partnership and collaboration as a result and really seen how important it is to be working together.

How have things improved and what is the need going forwards?
There have been improvements achieved in the communities where we work after our Samar Phase I and Phase II response. However, there is still much to be done.  We’ve seen the importance of continuous capacity building for the leaders and families, as well as being able to strengthen our initiatives in health/WASH, livelihood and DRR towards sustainability. 

Heidi Cockram, Medair’s Philippines Country Director, adds her reflection: “There was a big media blackout surrounding the effects of Typhoon Nona, and we were at first unaware of the devastating impact. Then I received a late night call from Food for the Hungry who had inside knowledge of what was going on. As as result we were able to collaborate to get shelter items up to the needy very quickly. It’s moments like these that make me so glad to be a part of the Integral Alliance.”