Disaster Risk Resiliency Fund
Dapa, Surigao del Norte
Rogelio Diaz, Jr., Peter Jade Ruaya, Alexander Geraldino, Clarito Gubaton, & Necil Espino
A community-managed savings program for disaster preparedness and resilience among the coastal communities of Dapa, Surigao del Norte.
Through a Disaster Resilience Fund (DRF), the community would be prepared before disaster strikes. At the same time, they would also be able to recover from the impacts of these disasters.
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The innovation team is looking for more partners to be able to sustain and replicate this project.
People didn’t know how to save and where to put their money.
In the past we just spend our money on personal comforts. Now we’re thinking about
Building adaptive capacity and community readiness to absorb and mitigate impacts are important in disaster resilience. Through a Disaster Resilience Fund (DRF), the community will be able to prepare ahead of a disaster. This program will also enhance their capacity to recover after a disaster.
Different groups may come up with their own DRF or savings club. The policies of each DRF group are based on their own situations and experiences. It is the members who get to decide how the policies of their own group should be crafted.
The municipality of Dapa in Surigao del Norte is composed of island and islets. The residents mainly source their income from fishing.
When weather disturbances strike, fishing activities are immediately halted, adversely affecting the financial and food sources of the residents.
A kagawad of Barangay Corrigedor, Clarito Gubaton, recalled that the worst calamity that they encountered was during typhoon Nitang. “All the houses were destroyed. All the trees and crops were uprooted,” he adds.
Because of the isolated geographical locations of the barangays, assistance from the government is usually delayed.
In times of calamities, it is important that these vulnerable communities have access to financial resources. Funding is a critical part of recovery and it builds resilience.
According to Necil Espino, a housewife and farmer at Corregidor, most of the residents are unaware that they should be saving for the rainy days. Rommel Porpayas, Corregidor Barangay Captain agrees, “People didn’t know how to save and where to put their money.” The Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) was established to address this concern.
Gubaton is a Community Development Facilitator (CDF) for the Advocates for Social Protection and Innovation for Resilient Ecology (ASPIRE). He says he got the idea of organizing a savings club in Corregidor from a seminar he attended in Cebu. “I was encouraged to teach people to set aside a portion of their incomes, no matter how small, for rainy days.”
The implementation of the DRF in Corregidor was quite successful. More residents wanted to chip in because they found the prospect of getting share outs and having something to withdraw in times of emergency enticing. Now the innovators want to bring the DRF to the other barangays in Dapa.
In June 2018, community consultations were held in the 12 barangays. “We made the people understand what this project all about. We let them know how to start a savings fund, a social fund, and DRF,” explains Espino, also a CDF at ASPIRE.
The savings fund promises to return a member’s contributions plus a little bit of interest after a year. The interest is made from loans to members of the fund.
The social fund is accessible when there are emergencies or medical needs, while the disaster relief fund is activated for use when there are calamities, like typhoons.
Fund policies vary from one DRF savings club to another, since members themselves determine how their money will be used.
Barangay Bagacay was one of the early adopters of the DRF. Elena Sinday, president of one of the DRF groups, explains how they manage their money: “we Php5 for the DRF and another PhP5 for the social fund weekly. For the savings fund, the amount can vary from Php 50 to PhP 100.” There are 25 members in Sinday’s DRF group.
Trainings for the implementation of the savings clubs in other coastal barangays of Dapa were held in November 2018. They’re just waiting on the cash boxes and padlocks to arrive for the storage of funds before the projects are fully rolled out.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND IMPACT
Gubaton says around 80 families in Dapa have already benefited from this project. In total, there are about 2,000 members of various DRF groups in the area.
The community development facilitator says residents appreciate the value of the DRF. Not only did they learn how to save, they also have money to spend when they are sick or when disaster befalls upon them. “This is really the best thing we ever joined,” Gubaton says.
Espino also enumerated the benefits that Corregidor residents have already reaped from the innovation. “Members who were hospitalized were able to tap the social fund. Children have been sent to school because of the savings fund. Families are now able to buy their things for their homes they didn’t think was possible before,” she narrates.
The introduction of the DRF also altered its members’ attitude towards money. “In the past, we just spend our money on personal comforts. Now we’re thinking about the future,” says Espina.
“People have learned how to curb their spending. We no longer rely on 5-6 lenders because of this project,” Porpayas notes.
Acceptance of the DRF wasn’t always warm, according to the innovation team. “Others were apprehensive of the idea at first because they thought that other members won’t be able to pay back their loans. We told them that as mebers of the same DRF group, they should be more understanding of each other,” Gubaton says.
“We now have deeper relationships with one another. We share our problems and talk about them. It bonded us together,” according to Espino.
Members of Bagacay’s DRF group also shared their experience as members of the fund. Sixty-seven year old farmer, Jose Gayol, was able to expand his fishing business. Benjie Coro, mother and housewife, adds, “We were able to buy materials to build our own boat. My husband no longer needs to borrow his cousin’s boat.”
For her part, Sinday says she used her share of Php 2,500 to buy personal items. “It really depends on how the members want to spend the money that they save from the DRF,” she explains.
Sinday’s group in Bagacay aspires to be as successful as the pilot group in Corregidor. “We hope to grow our numbers so we can help improve everyone’s life here in our community,” states Sinday.
The innovators are are also working to sustain the project and to replicate the DRF in more barangays. They are now looking to partner with other agencies for support.
“I want to ask more people to be involved in this kind of project because it helps many others. My dream is for this project to continue and to benefit a lot of communities,” says Espino.
Gubaton echoes the same sentiment, “I want to help other communities. Hopefully, this will continue because the people like it. There are still people who want to join.”