Situation Report
Relief distribution
Relief distribution in Cagayan Province. Photo credit: ACCORD

A series on localization: How the Philippines is quietly implementing a more localized COVID-19 humanitarian response (Part 4)

Locally led pooled fund shaping the future of funding support

Uncertainty will be part of the new normal, which also holds true in terms of additional or future funding for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Faith-Based Groups (FBGs) and People’s Organizations (POs) that are currently responding to COVID-19 response.

There are many organized and informal Filipino groups across the world that are engaged in providing support to the Philippines. While Filipino diaspora has itself been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it makes sense for the local civil society to reach out to these groups, also to mainstream and maximize local platforms for greater community impact and giving the opportunity to help each other.

With more than 1,600 members across the country, Caucus of Development Non-Government Organizations (CODE-NGO) is the biggest coalition of CSOs working on humanitarian and social development. Since 1990, it is one of the trusted national voices advancing the capacities of CSOs across the country to exercise transformative leadership. One of the local funding mechanisms that the CODE-NGO is encouraging for Filipino overseas to support is the Shared Aid Fund for Emergency Response (SAFER). Being considered as the first locally led joint fundraising initiative and a pooled fund in the country, SAFER raises funds for local organizations that provide immediate life-saving assistance to victims in times of crises.

CODE-NGO is also raising the profile of SAFER within its networks, which include various overseas Filipino groups to continuously support its platform considering the country is also facing threats from other compounding natural hazards. For example, while the country is still dealing with the pandemic, Typhoon Vongfong (local name Ambo), a first tropical cyclone in this year’s rainy season, left a trail of extensive damage to Eastern Visayas and Bicol Regions when it made series of landfalls on 14 May.

SAFER is also expecting another round of donation from the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition (PHC), an alliance of Filipino-American organizations in the Washington D.C. region. It is part of the bigger coalition of overseas Filipinos, the National Federation of the Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA). Created in 2013 as a response to the call of the then Philippine Ambassador in Washington for a united community effort to address urgent needs of people affected by the typhoon Haiyan, PHC has since then became provided support to various humanitarian response efforts in the Philippines and is one of SAFER’s biggest donors.

The role of faith-based organizations

The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has been working with the various levels of the government and providing support to affected communities in several humanitarian emergencies. NASSA is requesting its global supporters to directly send in-kind or cash assistance to local dioceses and amplify the universal call to inclusively support interfaith networks of Filipinos and consolidate various support for COVID-19 response. Being at the forefront in the promotion of the rights of most vulnerable and poorest of the underdeveloped sectors in the country, NASSA continues to advocate for support coming from Filipino overseas.

These challenging times may push the limits of many organizations supporting local governments and affected communities but in taking the long view, coming together and becoming more connected has never been as crucial as it is now in beating the new coronavirus and ensuring the full recovery of the affected areas, socially and economically. The silver lining is that there is an opportunity for a transformative shift in how most international organizations and donors engage and support local actors and community groups in the country, both in the ongoing COVID-19 response and future emergencies. It will be crucial to seize the moment to further strengthen the partnerships and systems that underpin localized humanitarian action in the Philippines.