Non-profit development organisation Heifer International, headquartered in the United States, has worked in the Philippines since 1954, empowering families to overcome hunger and poverty and to protect the environment. Among its key goals are building resilient and safer communities, thanks to local level management of disaster risk reduction programmes. It draws the community together to carry out risk assessments and planning, as well as involving ordinary people in rapid response and mitigation measures.
When Typhoon Bopha struck the southern island of Mindanao on December 2012, it displaced more than a million people and killed over 1,000. It stripped the hillsides of trees, vegetation, killed livestock and destroyed thousands of homes. Two Heifer projects in the area were hit by Bopha and 336 families sustained heavy losses. The families who had been involved in the projects were more prepared and well coordinated. They took collective actions to safeguard their families and productive assets 24 hours before the typhoon. Group savings helped spur the recovery effort. During the relief operation done by Heifer, project families, who were also victims, became resources. They participated in the orderly distribution of goods to affected families in the area. Heifer has repeatedly mobilised its network of partners and communities to collaborate and learn from each other and share disaster risk reduction experiences. The social capital created through its values-based methodologies binds communities together to take pro-active actions, improve sense of responsibility and create better coordination in times of disasters.
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