Philippines

Situation Report

Highlights

  • Taal Volcano continues to be active more than a week after it erupted, with more than 346,000 people affected as of 24 January.
  • As of 23 January, over 3.2 million people are affected in Regions VI, VII, VIII, MIMAROPA and Caraga due to Typhoon Phanfone.
  • As of 21 January, more than 397,000 people are affected by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that occurred on 15 December in Davao del Sur, Mindanao.
  • Typhoon Kammuri made 4 landfalls from 2 to 3 December in the provinces of Sorsogon, Masbate, Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro.
  • A series of earthquakes struck in Tulunan, North Cotabato, between 16 and 31 October 2019.
Taal Volcano Eruption Photo credit: OCHA/G. Maramag
(Sto. Tomas, Batangas) 14 January 2020 - Teresita, 46, and her family of eight arrived at an evacuation centre on 13 January after authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of her hometown of Talisay. She is pictured here with two of her children. Credit: OCHA/Gina Maramag

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Key Figures

346K
persons affected (Taal Volcano eruption)
3.2M
persons affected (Typhoon Phanfone)
66K
persons displaced (Marawi)

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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
Visual

Taal Volcano Update Snapshot (as of 24 January 2020)

OCHA-PHL-TaalVolcanoEruption-Snapshot-200124

Alert level-4 (hazardous eruption imminent) was raised by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) over Taal Volcano after a phreatic or steam-driven activity on 12 January that progressed into magmatic eruption on 13 January. A number of fissures (cracks) were reported mostly in the south-west of the main crater as well as ongoing seismic activity. PHIVOLCS strongly recommended the total evacuation of people within the high-risk areas inside the 14-km radius from the Taal Volcano crater. The Department of Education reports that the education of over 30,000 children has been affected due to the closing of schools within the danger zone. The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health, with the support from UN and partners conducted sectoral assessments of the humanitarian needs of displaced people in evacuation centres.

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Snapshot: Taal Volcano Eruption (As of 23 January 2020)

OCHA-PHL-Taal-Update-Snapshot-200123

Taal Volcano continues to be active more than one week after it erupted on 12 January. Activity in the past 24 hours has been characterized by a steady steam emission and infrequent weak explosions. While the volcano is exhibiting less intensive activity than in previous days, the possibly of a larger eruption has not been ruled out and PHIVOLCS has maintained Alert Level-4 (out of 5) signifying that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours or days. Ongoing seismic activity and an observed deformation of the volcano over the past 24 hours likely signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the volcano, raising concerns of further eruptive activity.

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20200114 Volunteers sort relief items Santo Tomas Gym credit OCHA GMaramag
Sto. Tomas, Batangas (14 January 2020) - Volunteers sort through incoming relief items at an evacuation centre. Credit: OCHA/Gina Maramag

Evacuations continue following Taal volcanic eruption

Taal Volcano, located in the CALABARZON region 70 km south of the capital Manila, continues to actively erupt, emitting dark gray ash plumes up to 800 metres high. Activity in the last 24 hours has generally waned to a weak emission of steam-laden plumes 700 metres high that dispersed ash to the southwest, according to The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). New fissures or cracks to the south west of the Taal Lake shoreline were observed in the municipalities of Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay and San Nicolas in the province of Batangas, with a fissure transecting a road connecting Agoncillo to Laurel, Batangas. Five hundred twenty volcanic earthquakes have been recorded since 12 January and such intense seismic activity probably signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity, according to PHIVOLCS. Alert level-4 remains in effect and communities residing within a 14-km radius of the volcano crater are most at risk, including parts of the densely populated tourist destination Tagaytay City. National authorities continue to evacuate communities to safety from fourteen municipalities in Batangas: Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Lipa, Malvar, Mataasnakahoy, San Nicolas, Sta. Teresita, Taal, Talisay and Tanauan, while police authorities are restricting access to Agoncillo, Lemery, San Nicolas, Talisay and Taal in Batangas, only allowing residents to gather belongings for a limited amount of time. Road clearing continues and access from Tagaytay City to Tanauan, Batangas via Talisay is now accessible. Until Alert level-4 is lowered, PHIVOLCS recommends a strict evacuation protocol of those in the 14 km-radius danger zone and a permanent relocation of Taal Island residents. As of 16 January, over 68,600 people are affected in Batangas and Cavite province, of whom more than 57,200 people have been assisted and taking shelter in 257 evacuation centres according to national figures. Save the Children estimates that around 21,000 children living in the 14-kilometer danger zone were among the affected, while the Department of Education reported that over 8 million children from nearly 7,900 schools were affected by the disruption of classes over the past few days, as well as schools that closed or sustained damage due to ashfall in affected municipalities.

Government response and support of humanitarian partners

National and provincial authorities continue to lead the response, coordinating logistics support, evacuating affected barangays (villages), clearing roads and dredging waterways clogged with ashfall. The Department of Social Welfare and Development is leading food, relief distribution and cash assistance, providing nearly PhP4 million (US$78,690) worth of assistance as of 16 January. The Department of Health is conducting health assessments and providing face masks and medical assistance, while the Philippine army and police force continue to facilitate the evacuation of those in the 14-km danger zone via their transportation assets. Nearby local governments of Quezon and Laguna province are also providing support, while municipalities in Batangas and Cavite are hosting displaced communities from other municipalities and provinces. An emergency operations centre has been stood up at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex in Batangas City. The provinces of Batangas and Cavite have declared a state of calamity, enabling them to tap locally budgeted emergency funding. Agricultural damages are estimated to be at Php577 million (US$11.3 million) affecting 2,772 hectares of farm land and 1,967 animal heads. The most affected crops are rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana and combined with the estimated production loss of over 15,000 metric tonnes in the fisheries sector may affect food security. The focus of the regional government is the ongoing evacuation of those who were left behind in the initial round of mandatory evacuation. Maritime assets are not able to enter the lake surrounding the volcano, posing a problem to over thousands of animals and livestock located in the Taal Island. Humanitarian organizations are conducting assessments in affected municipalities as well as in host communities in Batangas and Cavite, and have identified the need to support those who have fled to safety in evacuation centres and host communities who may remain in displacement for a considerable period of time. Water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, sleeping kits and health assistance were reported as initial priority needs. It was also observed that some 180 schools are used as evacuation centres and the Department of Education has requested public schools in the CALABARZON region to accommodate displaced learners and for teachers to validate the number of school-age children to facilitate their registration at the host schools. The Humanitarian Country Team, composed of in-country UN agencies, INGOs and NGOs and the private sector, stands in solidarity with the Philippines and is coordinating with their government counterparts to support priority needs in relief assistance. The United Nations, together with its humanitarian partners, is assisting with technical and logistical needs of local and regional authorities and stands ready to provide further assistance if needed.

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Credit: ACTED Philippines
Credit: ACTED Philippines

More than 2.4 million people affected by Typhoon Phanfone

More than a week after Typhoon Phanfone (locally named Ursula) made initial landfall in Salcedo, Eastern Samar as a category-2 typhoon and crossed the Visayas region, over 2.4 million people in more than 2,700 barangays are affected in regions V, VI, VII, VII, Caraga and MIMAROPA. Sixty percent of those affected are in Region VIII (Easter Visayas) and were previously in the path of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, which caused significant damage in the region. As of 3 January, over 133,000 people are displaced, of whom 77,800 are taking shelter in 547 evacuation centres and over 55,000 staying with host families or open spaces. The number of displaced is lower than previously reported (145,000 people as of 31 December) as people are gradually returning home to repair their homes and recover from the effects of the typhoon. While classes are scheduled to resume on 6 January after the holiday break, over 440 schools have sustained damage in regions V, VI, VIII, MIMAROPA and CALABARZON, according to the latest National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reports. Learning materials and school equipment that were washed away, and damage to roofing and electrical wiring in classrooms were due to the heavy to sometimes intense rains, strong winds, and storm surges which brought up to waist-deep flooding in some affected regions. As local authorities continue to assess damage to buildings and infrastructure, the number of houses reported as damaged or destroyed continues to rise, with over 431,000 houses listed as damaged, out of which over 107,000 are registered as destroyed. Nearly 90 per cent of the destroyed houses are in Region VI (Western Visayas) and Region VIII (Eastern Visayas). In Tacloban City alone, a city that was significantly affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, over 24,000 houses are reported as damaged. Most of the affected families are vulnerable farming and fishing communities in exposed coastal areas. The economic damage to infrastructure and agriculture has risen to an estimated PhP3.4 billion (US$67 million) in regions V, VI, VII, VII and MIMAROPA according to the NDRRMC, an increase from P1 billion reported on 31 December. The Department of Agriculture reports that as of 2 January, damage and losses to agriculture is estimated at P3 billion. The production losses on rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries is at 39,461 metric tonnes, affecting over 30,700 hectare and more than 84,000 farmers and fisherfolk in affected regions.

Government response and humanitarian coordination

The national government is leading the response, assisted by the Red Cross and with the Office of Civil Defense coordinating with the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and local authorities, to provide food and other relief assistance to affected communities, which to date is valued at over P56 million ($1.1 million). Mobile, phone and electricity services are gradually being restored in affected communities. DSWD is continuing the distribution of food packs, which usually consist of six kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of meat loaf or corned beef and six packets of instant coffee. In some areas that were hit by Typhoon Tisoy last month, calamity funds are stretched, and food and relief assistance may last only for a limited amount of time. Humanitarian partners with programmes on the ground are conducting initial damage assessments in affected areas and have identified food, potable water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and shelter materials as priority needs of affected families. Families have begun repairs to their damaged homes but continue to camp in open areas or stay in makeshift tents sleeping on the ground and exposed to various elements. Some families report bringing their children to neighbors to sleep at night for safety. Due to the lack of shelter and sanitation facilities, affected families are vulnerable to health and protection issues. Livelihoods are also a concern, as affected farmers, fisherfolk and informal workers have limited financial means to cope with economic losses and have expressed their need for food and shelter assistance and livelihood support in the long-term. OCHA, on behalf of the Philippines Humanitarian Country Team, remains in contact with national authorities and ready to support should that be required.

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Typhoon Phanfone (Ursula) Snapshot (As of 2 January 2020)

200102 Philippines Typhoon Phanfone Ursula Snapshot

Typhoon Phanfone (locally named Ursula) made seven landfalls from 24-25 December in the provinces of Leyte, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique and Oriental Mindoro before exiting in the West Philippines Sea. Areas along its track experienced heavy to intense rains and strong winds and storm surges. Many of the regions affected were the same areas that were damaged by Typhoon Kammuri (Tisoy) three weeks earlier.

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Credit: OCHA/R. Maquilan

6.9-magnitude earthquake in Davao Del Sur affects more than 378,000 people

As of 24 December, more than 378,000 people are affected by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that occurred on 15 December in Davao del Sur, Mindanao, with about one third of those affected – an estimated 108,000 people – already struck by the previous October earthquakes. The numbers are expected to rise as authorities continue to validate the number of people affected and the extent of damage caused by the earthquake. Over 210 people are injured and 13 fatalities were reported due to the earthquake, which displaced over 131,000 people in the Region XI (Davao) and Region XII (SOCKSARGEN). Of the displaced, nearly 37,000 are staying in 58 evacuation centres, while over 94,000 are staying with host families or in open spaces, according to the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC). A majority of the displaced are in the Davao Region. Many are currently camping in makeshift tents in open spaces near their homes or in evacuation centres, usually open areas near their barangay (village) hall or church, adding to displaced communities who lost their homes and have been staying in tents and evacuation centres since October. The physiological trauma of the affected population is aggravated by continuous aftershocks. The quake also caused significant damage to buildings and infrastructure, with over 26,000 homes nearly 400 schools, and over 60 health facilities damaged, mostly in the Davao del Sur province. The damage to classrooms have affected more than 188,000 enrolled students, and an estimated PhP1.9 billion (US$37 million) will be needed for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged schools, according to the Department of Education. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) latest figures, the municipalities of Hagonoy, Kiblawan, Magsaysay, Malalag, Matanao, and Padada in Davao del Sur were among the hardest hit by the December earthquake with a total of over 327,000 affected people. Magsaysay was already strongly affected by the October earthquakes which initially displaced about 40,000 people in the municipality of which 1,700 people were still seeking shelter outside their homes, when the latest earthquake struck.

Government response and humanitarian coordination

Provincial and local authorities continue to lead response efforts, assisted by the Philippine Red Cross and humanitarian partners. The Department of Social Welfare and Development is distributing food and relief assistance, with the transportation of the relief items handled by the Philippine Armed Forces. The Department of Public Welfare and Highways continue to validate the structural integrity of major roads, bridges and other public buildings. The Department of Labor and Employment has started a cash-for-work livelihood programme. As of 24 December, the Government has provided about PhP18.6 million (US$367,000) worth of assistance to the affected families. The Mindanao Humanitarian Team, composed of in-country UN agencies, international and national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations, is coordinating with provincial and local authorities and conducted a joint rapid assessment of impact and needs together with local authorities in the most affected municipalities. Assessment teams identified displaced, vulnerable and low-income households, indigenous populations in high-risk areas and those with psychosocial trauma from repeated strong earthquakes as those that require immediate assistance. Priority needs reported are shelter and camp management assistance, with many displaced people forming spontaneous camps; potable water and WASH assistance, and psychosocial support.

The assessment report also cited access issues due to damaged roads and bridges to barangays (villages) of predominantly indigenous communities. Livelihoods have also been interrupted, with seaweed farmers not been able to harvest or fish since late October, according to IOM’s displacement report. As displacement becomes protracted for those who have lost their homes from both October and December earthquakes, affected communities and especially women, girls, boys and at-risk groups are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in evacuation centres, and protection must be integrated in humanitarian response to ensure their safety and security.

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Credit: World Vision
Credit: World Vision

Typhoon Kammuri makes landfall as a Category-3 typhoon near Sorsogon province

Late evening on 2 December, Typhoon Kammuri (locally named Tisoy) made landfall as a Category 3 typhoon near the city of Gubat in Sorsogon province, where maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour were recorded. On 3 December, the eye of the typhoon carried sustained winds of up to 175 kph hour and gustiness of up to 240 kph as the system moved westward picking up speed and making further landfalls across central Philippines, in Masbate, Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro. Typhoon Kammuri is forecasted to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), veering south into the South China Sea, by the morning of 5 December.

The combination of high winds, sustained heavy rainfall and storm surge is expected to have impacted vulnerable communities across a wide swathe of territory from northern Samar to southern parts of Metro Manila. Early reports indicate damaged and destroyed houses in at least four regions, interruption of power supplies and telecommunication in over 200 areas, and flooding in Western Visayas, Bicol region and Calabarzon, just south of Metro Manila. Air travel was severely affected as all four terminals at the Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were closed for 12 hours, resulting in cancellation of over 500 domestic and international flights. The terminal at Legazpi city airport was heavily damaged though the local authorities are working to restore operations. Initial assessments indicate some 4,000 houses were partially and totally damaged in areas of Sorsogon where the typhoon made initial landfall. Further reports on the extent of damage are expected in the coming days as power and connectivity are restored.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the government is now supporting over 495,000 people (123,000 families) in need of assistance, of which over 458,000 (114,000 families) are temporarily displaced and staying in evacuation centres. In Bicol region alone, over 432,000 are displaced and seeking shelter inside the evacuation centres, mainly in Albay province, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon. In most towns of Albay province, including Legazpi city, piped water supply is unavailable due to absence of electric power and flooding.

On 3 December, Typhoon Kammuri affected schooling of almost 15 million learners as more than 860 municipalities/cities cancelled classes in public and private schools at all levels, including Metro Manila. Schooling of many learners will be further affected since 100 schools are currently being used as evacuation centres. UNICEF estimates some 300,000 children living in affected areas may be at risk and in need of assistance.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the initial estimate of losses caused by Typhoon Kammuri to the agriculture sector is some US$10 million (PhP532 million), while affecting lives and income of some 40,000 farmers. With early harvest of crops in several areas anticipated to be on the path of the typhoon, greater damage was to a large extent prevented. Nevertheless, 14,600 hectares of land in Calabarzon and Bicol Region is affected, with an estimated production loss of some 18,500 metric tons. According to initial assessments from humanitarian partners on the ground, food availability will be a concern due to damaged crops and the fact that affected fishermen cannot sail because of rough seas. Partners are already reporting of a knock-on effect this may have on family dynamics, particularly for women who are now additionally burdened by finding food for the family, while simultaneously being responsible for taking care of children and elderly.

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Humanitarian Impact of Tulunan, Cotabato Earthquakes (as of 29 December)

Humanitarian Impact of Tulunan, Cotabato Earthquakes

A series of earthquakes struck in Tulunan, North Cotabato, between 16 and 31 October 2019. The earthquakes caused displacement, loss of lives and extensive damage to properties and infrastructure. Experts believe many of those affected will remain displaced for at least a year due to the cause and severity of the damage. The national government, which is leading the response, has setup a Central Coordination Center (CCC) to coordinate the response efforts and allocate resources among the affected local government units.

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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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