Philippines

Situation Report

Highlights

  • The Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus: Towards a New Way of Working in the Philippines
  • Since a national epidemic was declared on 6 August, dengue cases continue to surge.
  • Members of the Mindanao Humanitarian Team in Iligan conducted a needs assessment of Marawi continuing humanitarian needs.
  • Humanitarians across the Philippines commemorate women humanitarians during World Humanitarian Day
Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus
(April 2019) Sitio Falcata, Barangay Lambanogan, Amai Manabilang: A data collector gathers information in Lanao del Sur for the data visualization platform DevLive+ (formerly ClimEx.db). DevLive+ is intended to collect, manage and visualize data required to assess risks and vulnerability of households, buildings and production areas to hazards. Shared platforms such as DevLive+ can provide the basis for informed Disaster Risk Management, the formulation of development plans and humanitarian programming. Credit: UNDP/Z. Bacalan

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Philippines

Situation Report

Key Figures

66K
persons displaced (Marawi)

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Philippines

Situation Report

Funding

$28.7M
Funding for Marawi (2019)

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Contacts

Mark Bidder

Head of Office

Gina Maramag

Public Information Officer

Philippines

Situation Report
Feature
Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus

The Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus – Old wine in new bottles?

Linking humanitarian action closer to development assistance has been on the global agenda for decades and discussed under various themes. From ‘Linking relief, rehabilitation and development’, to building resilience, to the ‘Humanitarian-Development-Nexus’ – the underlying notions and goals remain similar: humanitarian and development actors both strive to improve the well-being and resilience of affected populations and by creating stronger linkages between them the overall impact of their interventions could be increased.

In recent years, the nexus concept gained new momentum. At the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016, strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus was identified as a priority and as part of the Grand Bargain, donors and aid providers committed themselves to enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors. With the addition of a peace perspective emphasized by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the nexus advanced further into the ‘triple nexus’ uniting the humanitarian, development and peace agendas.

Since the aim of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus is similar to earlier concepts, the question arises whether it is just a revival of a longstanding idea under a different name. However, what distinguishes the nexus from previous concepts, is that it goes beyond a programmatic approach and places emphasis on the strategic and structural changes from the perspective of donors, governments and organizations delivering services that are needed in order to adapt to the fundamental shifts occurring on a global scale, ranging from increasing risks as a result of climate change to smaller funding streams which necessitate more efficient and pre-emptive responses to natural and man-made disasters. Thus, the nexus is not merely a revival of an old concept, but rather an evolution of an approach that is able to close some of the gaps left by compartmentalized planning and programming and change the way humanitarian and development assistance is funded and delivered.

The Philippines –  A promising nexus laboratory

The nexus has the potential to catalyse progress in the Philippines on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to deliver on the pledge ‘to leave no one behind’ (LNOB). Inclusive development in the Philippines is hampered by vulnerable parts of the population getting left behind as they endure socio-economic deprivation and disadvantages and at the same time are often exposed to ‘setbacks due to the impacts of climate change, natural hazards, violence, conflict, displacement, health emergencies and economic downturns’. This necessitates approaches that integrate short-term and long-term efforts in the areas of humanitarian action, development assistance and peacebuilding to reach the furthest behind.

Further, experiences and lessons learnt in the Philippines – a developing middle-income country frequently affected by natural and man-made disasters – offer great potential to contribute to the nexus discussion and inform efforts in other country contexts. Frequent clashes between various armed groups and government forces create pockets of insecurity for large parts of the population, particularly in Mindanao, the Philippines’ second-largest island which includes four of the five poorest regions in the country. In Mindanao, hundreds of civilians become displaced every month, often repeatedly, because of clashes between insurgents and government forces as well as due to ‘rido’ – violent and often longstanding clan feuds. This is in addition to the protracted displacement of an estimated 66,000 people as a result of the Marawi crisis in 2017. These violent confrontations are compounded by political and economic conditions leading to more insecurity, which in turn hampers political and economic development – a dynamic described as a conflict trap and points to the crucial relationship between peace and development.

Besides man-made disasters, the Philippines is prone to a multitude of natural disasters. Every year, an average of 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippines Area of Responsibility, bringing strong winds and heavy rainfalls, which cause subsequent flooding and landslides often affecting the underdeveloped parts of the country and the least resilient communities the most. As a country located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is also vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic activities. In 2019, three earthquakes of magnitudes between 5.4 to 6.4 have struck Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas and most recently the island group of Batanes causing severe damage to infrastructure, killing dozens and leaving hundreds of people injured. Both natural and man-made disasters can set back development efforts significantly and often negate them entirely by putting affected communities in a prolonged state of recovery. This creates strong incentives for development assistance to address existing vulnerabilities to external shocks and contribute to increasing resilience of communities at risk alongside humanitarian and peacebuilding actors.

There is a momentum for a more joined-up collaboration among humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors to collectively tackle the aforementioned issues. The recent peace agreement and the establishment of an autonomous Bangsamoro opens up opportunities for development organizations to enter underdeveloped areas of the country, reach marginalized communities and work in congruity with humanitarian and peacebuilding actors. With an improving economic outlook – the Philippines are projected to make the leap to an upper-middle income country in the near term – and increasing capacities of the National Government and Local Government Units, the need for humanitarian aid is expected to decrease. This creates incentives for humanitarian agencies to work in conjunction with development actors to create durable and sustainable solutions for those parts of the populations which are the furthest behind.

The New Way of Working as a framework to kick-start the nexus

In light of these developments, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in the Philippines, composed of senior leaders of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector, initiated a structured dialogue around humanitarian-development cooperation in the Philippines to explore opportunities for greater coherence between the activities of humanitarian and development actors. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is supporting the HCT in this endeavour by identifying strategic areas that could benefit from a nexus approach and facilitating efforts to bring diverse actors closer together.

On a global level, these actions are supported by the Joint Steering Committee (JSC), a mechanism which has been established by the Secretary-General in 2017 to promote greater coherence of humanitarian and development action. As a joint endeavour by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and OCHA, the committee is vice-chaired by the Administrator of UNDP and the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). The JSC has recently called upon designated representatives of the Secretary-General in a country, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs), to strive for greater coherence and collaboration among humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors and to provide good practices and lessons learnt to inform global discussions.

Guidance is offered by the ‘New Way of Working’ (NWOW) – a framework to put the nexus into practice. NWOW is meant to bring a diverse range of actors, including those outside of the UN system, closer together and offer a path for collaboration. The framework centres around ‘collective outcomes’ – commonly agreed quantifiable and measureable results or impacts in reducing people’s needs, risks and vulnerabilities, which shall drive the funding and programming decisions of key stakeholders.

Adapting the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus to the Philippines

Although a countrywide framework in the Philippines has not been implemented yet, some regional projects and programmes are already applying elements of nexus thinking. In particular agencies with dual mandates and those who applied a cross-cutting theme such as ‘Strengthening resilience’, or a holistic perspective such as the ‘peace lens’ or the ‘protection umbrella’ were able to successfully bridge the artificial divide between humanitarian assistance, development efforts and peacebuilding and forge mutually reinforcing strategies. “We see the nexus as building on long-running efforts in the humanitarian and development fields, such as ‘disaster risk reduction’ (DRR); ‘linking relief, rehabilitation and development’; the ‘resilience agenda’; and the embedding of conflict sensitivity across responses – done by international agencies certainly, but more especially by national and local actors,” says Lot Felizco, Country Director of Oxfam in the Philippines. “If we take this approach seriously, it will have profound implications on how we work, including how we organize resources and plan our interventions.”

A good example is the project ‘Enhancing Sustainable Income in the Philippines’ (ESIP), which was jointly implemented by People in Need (PIN) and ACTED in Eastern Samar in response to the destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 that devastated coconut farms and deprived farmers of their main livelihood. Aimed at strengthening businesses in an aid-intensive context by creating a sustainable business environment, ESIP complemented existing direct assistance (food distributions and distributions of farming material) by providing farmers with skills training, opportunities for income diversification and links to other market actors and service providers. In the province of Maguindanao, located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Islamic Relief implemented the ‘Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding in Fragile Contexts’ project, which coupled socio-economic development with peacebuilding elements. Communities, youth in particular, were provided with access to specific livelihoods (e.g. mushroom farming) and vocational and entrepreneurial skills development. The provision of livelihood opportunities was complemented by working with local authorities on peacebuilding and conflict transformation capacities and improving social interaction between different conflict groups.

The nexus in the BARMM context

Examples of nexus implementation are not scarce in the Philippines, yet its implementation faces a number of challenges. During a meeting of HCT core members on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, participants highlighted that funding structures and donor practices often present a significant obstacle by enforcing the divide between humanitarian and development assistance. The divide is also reflected in existing coordination mechanisms, which are traditionally not designed for cross-sectoral exchange of knowledge and experience between humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors.

In recognition of the great potential for development organizations to learn from the experiences made by aid agencies and vice versa, the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT), a coordination forum composed of the humanitarian actors based in Cotabato City, decided to create opportunities for strengthened coordination between humanitarian agencies, development and peacebuilding actors. This would allow for a more coherent engagement with the new BARMM authorities on matters of assistance, capacity building and advocacy, thus increasing the value proposition of the MHT. While this constitutes only one element of a comprehensive nexus approach, it is a first step towards forging coalitions that work together on reaching the furthest behind in the Philippines.

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Philippine Red Cross dengue community campaign in Camarines Sur credit Philippine Red Cross
(16 July 2019) Camarines Sur, Bicol - Staff and volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross conduct dengue awareness and prevention sessions to the Camarines Sur barangays, facilitated by community health volunteers. Credit: Philippine Red Cross

Government declares national epidemic as dengue cases continue to surge

Dengue cases continue to surge in the Philippines, with nearly 230,000 dengue cases and more than 958 deaths reported by the Department of Health (DOH) from 1 January to 17 August. On 6 August, the DOH declared a national dengue epidemic, urging its regional offices to step up surveillance, case management and outbreak response. Health officials warn the current number of dengue cases might double by October.

Reported dengue cases are the highest incidence over the past five years, and the deaths mostly children from five to nine years old. Because children do not have immunity to dengue yet and are more prone to infection, they are the most affected by the disease and there is no antiviral treatment available beyond supportive care. In 2017, the Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended the license of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in 2017 following a controversy regarding a DOH school-based dengue vaccination campaign. With the rapid rise in dengue cases, there are calls from some health professionals to lift the ban. The health department is considering a ruling on the ban, saying that the vaccine will not stop the ongoing epidemic as it will need to undergo an approval process which may take months.

According to a WHO Philippines situation report released on 2 September the case fatality rate of 0.30 per cent is significantly higher than the regional average of 0.22 per cent in the Western Pacific, and has placed the risk assessment as high at national level, and low at regional and global level.

Nine regions in the Philippines are at epidemic levels of dengue

As of 30 August, the Department of Health reports that nine regions have reached the dengue epidemic threshold: CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Region V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XII and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Case fatality rates and case incidences are highest in the CALABARZON and Western Visayas regions.

Urbanization, climate change contributing to the spread of dengue 

Several Asian countries are experiencing unusually high numbers of dengue cases for this time of year. According to the World Health Organization, of out of an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk for dengue globally, about 70 per cent live in Asia Pacific countries. Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam have observed early increases in the number of dengue cases reported so far this year. In the Asia Pacific, climate conditions, unclean environments, unplanned urban settlements and rapid urbanization can lead to increased mosquito breeding in communities.

According to Dr. Gawrie Loku Galappaththy, Medical Officer for Malaria and other Vector-borne and Parasitic Diseases of WHO Philippines, a variety of factors can contribute to the increasing dengue cases in the Philippines. “The onset of El Niño has led to drought and water shortages in some provinces in the Philippines. Due to water shortages, people collect water in containers for general use, increasing the likelihood of dengue mosquito breeding places,” said Dr. Galappaththy. “The increased awareness on dengue, and the general population is seeking health care promptly, therefore the reporting has increased,” she said. “Dengue is also a cyclical disease, which means there is an expected increase of cases every three years.”

Multi-sectoral response needed to fight the rise of dengue

According to WHO, one of the most effective measures to prevent dengue is by reducing mosquito breeding sites at the community level. Dengue mosquitoes like to breed in containers that collect water such as tires, bottles, and coconut shells. Communities can clean their surroundings, empty and wash water containers and dispose unused containers that may accumulate water. 

“Dengue control is not just up to the health sector. It can only be successful if different sectors work together,” says Dr. Galappaththy. “The local government is extremely crucial in pushing for vector control at the community level, while the education sector can assist in health promotion and vector control at school settings.” 

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Coordinated needs assessment of Marawi evacuation centres and temporary shelters
(10 June 2019) Marawi City, Lanao del Sur - A focus group discussion of displaced women from the Sarimanok evacuation centre. Credit: OCHA/G. Maramag

Humanitarian partners assess Marawi continuing humanitarian needs

In a tent draped with brightly printed fabric and strewn with rugs, over a dozen women are huddled together sharing their stories. They tell of their struggles of living in tents for the past two years, of their children’s schooling interrupted, and the sacrifices they’ve made as mothers of families caught in conflict. They also ask difficult questions that demand answers: “How long until we can go home?” and “How can they say we are in recovery when we are still in tents?”

Over two years since the beginning of the Marawi conflict, more than 66,000 people remain displaced, with a majority staying with host families, while over twenty per cent are still in evacuation centres and temporary shelters, waiting to return home. The remaining displaced are from barangays (neighbourhoods) in Marawi City that were destroyed in the fighting, some still littered with unexploded ordnance rendering them uninhabitable. As the Government focuses on clearing the debris and on rehabilitation of these areas, those unable to go home will continue to require humanitarian assistance.

Coordinated needs assessment of the UN, international and national NGOs

From 10-12 June, members of the Mindanao Humanitarian Team in Iligan set out to interview IDPs and conduct focused group discussions in locations where over 14,000 displaced people are temporarily staying. Over twenty humanitarian organizations visited five evacuation centres - Sarimanok 1, Sarimanok 2, Buadi Ittowa, Capitol, and Saguiaran - and eight temporary shelters - Sagonsongan, Angat Buhay, Boganga, Bahay Pag-asa 1 and 2, Bakwit Village, Pantaon, and Rorogagus. 

As humanitarian community faces dwindling resources for the Marawi response, local NGOs have often remained the only constant and have been instrumental in assisting the Government to address the immediate needs of IDPs. Some of the NGOs based in Marawi, such as MARADECA and CFSI, were displaced themselves during the conflict and kept operations running in Iligan City until their return in 2017.  

Initial results indicate worsening water, sanitation and shelter conditions

During the assessment, it was observed that most of the tents and WASH facilities in IDP camps were dilapidated. The IDPs reported that access to facilities at night time and during rain is challenging. Overcrowding in shelter units with minimal to no partitions has elevated the risk of sexual and gender-based violence. The majority of IDPs in the evacuation centres expressed a need for consultation before their transfer to transitory sites.

With the school year about to begin, access to education will be a continuing challenge for many children. Students are in need of support to cover for travel expenses from the IDP camps to schools. The assessment also identified the need for Camp Coordination and Camp Management structures in IDP camps to facilitate good management of camps and temporary sites. Updated information boards are needed to keep IDPs informed on government and NGO projects.

The Food, Agriculture and Livelihood cluster (FSAL) has flagged the lack of adequate food support in IDP camps and return areas. The Department of Social Welfare and Development has provided sharers and homeowners of the most affected areas with financial support intended for food and livelihoods, but the IDPs reported that the majority of the money is being used for the payment of debts and school fees.

The consolidated results of the joint assessment were shared with the Marawi City government officials and it was agreed that WASH concerns have to be addressed in order to prevent the outbreak of diseases in IDP camps.

Living in tents and temporary shelters, women and children remain the most vulnerable

Caironisa is 27 years old and has been living in newly built Boganga temporary shelter for the last two months. She has a three-year old son and together with her husband, manages a small sari-sari store in front of their shelter. Water is trucked in daily to the site by a programme of Action Against Hunger with the Marawi local authorities. She says that it is for domestic use. “We buy mineral water for drinking, which is stretching our earnings from the store. We don’t get a lot of foot traffic because the Boganga site is far from the market or city centre. The only people who will buy from the store are the other displaced families. CFSI’s livelihood programme provided them with equipment to start the store, which included a refrigerator. “We are thankful for the help to get us started with earning money, since the food assistance has stopped and we are not sure when will be able to go home. We had a small business before the conflict, my husband would buy and sell used trucks.” 

Humanitarian needs remain as early recovery continues

In seeking long term solutions for Marawi communities impacted by conflict, all levels of government, civil society, national NGOs, private sector, development partners and international organizations need to continue working together in close cooperation. The Humanitarian Country Team, composed of in-country UN agencies, international and national NGOs, and the private sector, are revising the 2019 Humanitarian Response and Resource Overview document for the Marawi conflict, to address the residual humanitarian and early recovery needs of about 300,000 beneficiaries in support of the Government-led efforts.

Investment in livelihood opportunities, education and long-term housing solutions for displaced people are underway, but in the meantime, humanitarian needs still need to be addressed not only in evacuation centres and temporary shelters, but also for those staying with host communities.

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20190819 WHD Stand Together Marawi City 4
(19 August 2019) Marawi City, Lanao del Sur: Sapia Taulani of OCHA Iligan gives a tour of the World Humanitarian Day photo exhibit to Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra.

Humanitarians across the Philippines commemorate women humanitarians during World Humanitarian Day on 19 August

Every day, women humanitarian workers in the Philippines stand in the front lines ready to brave tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to those who are most in need.

Marking the tenth anniversary of World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, the humanity community honored the contribution of women humanitarian aid workers who provide life-saving support to millions of people caught in crises. Women humanitarians in the Philippines work in the front lines of one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Disasters brought on by typhoons, floods, earthquakes and volcano eruptions displace millions of people each year and leave hundreds of thousands living in protracted displacement. In Mindanao, decades of armed conflict and instability continue to drive new displacement. About 3.8 million new displacements were recorded in the Philippines in 2018, the highest figure associated with disasters in the world. “Bringing attention to the plight of affected people, listening to their needs, their hopes for the future and taking action is what being a women humanitarian means to me,” say Sapia Taulani, a humanitarian worker for OCHA Philippines who was born and raised in Cotabato City, Mindanao. “We offer our hearts to the people we serve.”

World Humanitarian Day commemorations in Metro Manila and Mindanao

In Manila, a Stand-Together event in Greenbelt 3 Park in Makati City was held in partnership with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and Ayala Malls. Opening remarks will be given by Mark Bidder, OCHA Philippines Head of Office followed by Kristin Dadey, UN Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, a.i. A keynote address was given by Veronica Gabaldon, Executive Director of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and Luz Bador, President of the National Rural Women’s Coalition. A 12-foot heart installation with photos of women aid workers in the Philippines was unveiled and will remain in Greenbelt Park for a month.

In Mindanao, a Stand-Together event was held at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) compound in Cotabato City during their Monday morning flag ceremony, followed by a press conference honoring 10 women humanitarians. Collage photos of women humanitarians will be posted at the BARMM Chief Minister’s building and will remain for a month. A photo exhibit at Marawi City Hall with photos of women humanitarians in action from different agencies responding to the Marawi Response was at the city hall lobby. A short programme was held after the unveiling of the exhibit, with a message of solidary from Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra kicking off the event.

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Engaging potentially at-risk communities in preparation for a large-scale typhoon

A series of community consultations from were held in the Northern Luzon and Visayas Region from July to November 2018. The aim was to identify life-saving and evolving needs of a potentially at-risk population prior to a large-scale typhoon.

The pre-crisis information mapping and consultation are critical to the process of planning, allowing humanitarian actors to identify what minumum resources are necessary to augment or complement the capacities of the national government. Community engagement officers from OCHA, UNICEF, Care, Christian Aid, Humanity & Inclusion , NASSA/Caritas Philippines, with support from Cagayan Valley Disaster Response Centre, field volunteers and the local government in Cagayan, Kalinga and Negros Occidental facilitated the conduct of the pre-crisis activity.  A final report will be published shortly.