Making Responses Sustainable: Empowering Civil Society and Localizing Aid in Palawan – Philippines



In December 2021, Typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, brought torrential rains to the south-central Philippines and caused extensive damage to 11 of the country’s 17 regions. Although the most affected provinces were Cebu, Bohol, Southern Leyte and Surigao del Norte, the impact of the typhoon reached parts of Palawan province located along the western flank of the country, where the typhoon left people dead. , livelihoods and property in its wake. The municipality of Roxas in Palawan was along the direct path of the typhoon and the site of its ninth landfall.

“There was little international attention [in Palawan] due to damage on the east coast. However, there were acute needs here,” said Kevin Lee, executive director of local non-governmental organization A Single Drop for Safe Water, Inc. (ASDSW).

In the aftermath of Typhoon Rai, and with financial support from the United Nations, the Palawan-based organization was involved in coordination, capacity building and providing support to communities reeling from the typhoon. ASDSW received an emergency cash grant from the Resident Coordinator and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines and made available by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The emergency cash grant was given to the local organization in recognition of the need to increasingly involve NGOs in the response. Localization as a key principle in the implementation of the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan is recognized by the Humanitarian Country Team in the Philippines to ensure a sustainable response and recovery framework.

“OCHA’s emergency cash grant was essential to show other new donors that we were legitimate responders,” Lee said. “The grant led to another and helped us coordinate NGOs and government agencies, help [local government units] to create accurate lists and provide direct WASH, Shelter, Cash and Food assistance to over 15,000 families.

There are various reasons why localization is important. The first is that the presence of local organizations on the ground before and after crises allows them to react quickly and ensure the sustainability of the expected impact of a response. Their established presence also brings close and long-standing contacts with local officials, such as government and other civil society actors, and rights-holders, including assisted populations.

The emergency cash grant and technical support provided by OCHA built the capacity of local organizations such as ASDSW, which were able to immediately mobilize to provide assistance.

Seeing an influx of responders to Palawan in January, ASDSW expanded its capacity building support to initiate a process for local organizations and government units to work together in response and recovery efforts, while placing the partner communities at the center. A consortium has been formed among local organizations in Palawan to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian aid.

The involvement of civil society has been instrumental in the response. Even local authorities recognize their added value in disaster response and recovery efforts.

“The need to respond immediately prompted Roxas to step in and work with civil society organizations (CSOs) to bring back a sense of normalcy to our people. Different CSOs have stepped up, fueled by the spirit of volunteerism,” said Roxas, Municipal Mayor of Palawan, Dennis Sabando. “These common goals and interests driven by a desire to serve the public are, I believe, one of the reasons we were able to rebuild the community and help our people through calamity.”

Going forward, the provincial government of Palawan plans to increase civil society involvement in the recovery phase after Typhoon Rai and improve coordination between local government and civil society in future disaster responses. disaster. Consortium members are keen to leverage lessons learned from the Typhoon Rai response to ensure affected populations receive the support they need in future disasters.

ASDSW’s use of the Emergency Cash Grant demonstrates that Localization can lead to more sustainable humanitarian results in emergency response. OCHA will continue to support the Humanitarian Country Team in finding ways to strengthen national and local systems and capacities.

Read OCHA’s full report, Palaweños Helping Palaweños: Localizing Aid for Longer Lasting Humanitarian Results in Palawan.


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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