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People's participation is at the heart of CDP's humanitarian program

The Center for Disaster Preparedness' newest program, the Humanitarian Preparedness and Response (HPRP), in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the local lovernment units (LGUs) of Ilagan City and Municipality of Tumauini, facilitated 'Psychosocial Support Capacity and Enhancement Training for Carers and Communities' or Tree of Life to the people of Ilagan City and Municipality of Tumauini on March 13-17 in the Province of Isabela. Both areas were badly hit by Typhoon Lawin (Haima).

With 50 participants each, the three-day training was facilitated to the two partner LGUs simultaneously. After the actual training, Ilagan City had an additional day for rollout to Brgy. Cabisera 25, bringing in and providing psychosocial to 50 more participants. Tumauini, on the other hand, included its community members in the actual training. A total of 150 psychosocial kits were provided to the participants which contained inspirational cards, stress ball, tumbler, utensils, swiss knife, blankets, solar lamps, health kit, hygiene kit, and food items. Shovels and wheel barrows were also provided to the barangay LGUs to clear up typhoon debris and mud from residential homes and agricultural lands so they could grow their crops.

The need for psychosocial support and capacity-building on community-based disaster risk reduction and management came out of a participatory needs assessment conducted prior to a relief delivery operation (RDO) at the beginning of the month. This is also to recognize the role of the people in planning for response measures; but more importantly, to identify the relief assistance needed, priority recipients, and other urgent necessities of the community members.

Through the assessment, relief assistance was ensured to be based on the context of the area and its people, putting forth the importance of prioritization of the vulnerable sectors of the community. The most essential and still unmet needs emerged during this assessment, particularly the absence of community-based disaster risk reduction and management and psychosocial support for carers and helpers.

Hence, as a quick response to the discovered need, CDP did a short psychosocial session in the barangay on March 1, a day before the actual RDO. This was done through a session where community members were asked about their distresses or traumas after the typhoon, and consequently, the actions they undertook to remedy their symptoms, or emotional responses to their overwhelming experience.

The said RDO distributed 350 food packs covering all families living in Brgy. Cabisera 25 still as part of the response activities for Typhoon Lawin. Barangay officials and the community members had a notable participation on the operations from the preparations up to the actual distribution. Counterparts on transportation and human resource were provided by the city government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The assessment revealed that food is still their main priority, over structural mitigations and infrastructure rehabilitation such as evacuation center, bridge repair, riprapping, and shelter. The food packs that were distributed included five kilos of rice, monggo beans, and sugar to name a few. Supplementary food packs were also provided to families with six or more members, families that are headed by solo-parents or widowers, and families that have members who are older and have disabilities.

Representatives from the LGU of Ilagan giving relief to an older person during the RDO in Barangay Cabisera 25

Aside from food and sustenance, it was also uncovered that the community members needed a space and an opportunity to dialogue with the barangay officials and representatives from DSWD. As it turns out, many were anguished about the rapid assessment done by the government after the typhoon for shelter assistance which has caused so much stress to them. With the said information, CDP facilitated a simple conflict resolution among the LGU, barangay officials, and the community to restore social cohesion in the area.

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