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Humanitarian Assistance

Philippines Humanitarian Assistance

Situated on the Western Pacific typhoon belt and the fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is regularly affected by various natural disasters. Between June and November each year, typhoons often trigger flooding, landslides and storm surges throughout the country that result in the loss of lives, homes and livelihoods. Dotted with approximately 20 active volcanoes and located between two major fault lines, the Philippines also experiences high levels of seismic and volcanic activity. Since 1990, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has responded to 50 disasters in the Philippines.

Recognizing the significant disaster risk in the Philippines, USAID/OFDA maintains robust disaster risk reduction programs that build the capacity of local communities, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to prepare for and respond to the range of natural disasters that frequently impact the country.

Building Capacity to Endure Severe Shocks
CRS is providing ongoing training and support for community-based disaster risk reduction programs and municipality and city disaster risk reduction and management council planning and implementation in urban informal settlements across Metro Manila. Since FY 2014, USAID/OFDA has supported CRS to enhance community resilience in Metro Manila, as well as in three municipalities and 15 villages in Compostela Valley, Mindanao. CRS projects in the area include clearing channels, constructing flood-resilient infrastructure and improving evacuation centers and early warning systems. CRS is also organizing youth- and civil society-led waterway and community cleanup projects, promoting solid waste management and providing livelihoods support to at-risk women.

Conducting Incident Command System Training
With support from USAID/OFDA, U.S. Forest Service is conducting Incident Command System (ICS) training programs for local incident management teams, national disaster management authorities, first responders, the Philippine Armed Forces and local disaster response officials in provinces where USAID/OFDA disaster risk reduction activities are being implemented. Globally recognized as a best practice for emergency response, ICS provides organizational structure and processes to make rapid response faster and more effective. ICS helps facilitate personnel from multiple agencies to fit rapidly into a uniform management structure that streamlines planning and resource allocation during an emergency situation.

Enhancing Disaster Preparedness by Increasing Logistics Surge Capacity
With support from USAID/OFDA, the World Food Program is coordinating with Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to make vital relief materials readily available and accessible when disasters strike. This includes pre-positioning of temporary generators, office units, temporary storage tents and other logistics equipment in World Food Program warehouses in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. USAID is also helping the government facilitate transportation of equipment to affected areas by road, air and sea. In case a major emergency requires additional logistics support, World Food Program stands ready to supplement the Philippine government’s relief activities by airlifting up to 100 metric tons of relief items from other WFP warehouses in the region.

Increasing Disaster Resilience through Livelihoods Strengthening
USAID/OFDA works with CRS to increase the capacity of vulnerable communities to prepare for and recover from frequent typhoons. The program supports and trains local authorities to develop comprehensive disaster management plans, as well as trains coconut farming and fishing households to implement diversification and savings strategies to increase their resilience to disasters. With USAID/OFDA support, CRS is bolstering livelihoods and mitigating disaster risk through household-, community-, district- and municipal-level interventions.

Increasing Public-Private Collaboration on Disaster Preparedness
The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a network of 73 member companies, is working with local authorities and businesses to build community awareness of disaster risks and improve coordination before, during and after disasters occur. With USAID/OFDA funding, PDRF strengthens Philippine government and private sector cooperation to reduce disaster risks and protect common critical assets in two at-risk barangays in Metro Manila. The partnership also conducts forums and consultations between PDRF members and the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to develop a partnership agreement between stakeholders and deepen engagement in disaster coordination.

Reducing Vulnerabilities in Mindanao
USAID/OFDA is supporting the Center for Disaster Preparedness Foundation to enhance the capacity of vulnerable communities in the Zamboanga Peninsula to withstand the negative effects of drought and floods. The Center for Disaster Preparedness Foundation is reducing the risks and vulnerabilities associated with disasters while building the capacity of city and provincial officials to implement safety procedures. Program activities include advocating for public investment in risk reduction planning, establishing early warning systems and working with local authorities to improve disaster readiness.

Strengthening Disaster Preparedness and Response Climate Change Adaptation Capacity
Through USAID/OFDA funding, the UN World Food Program is increasing the ability of national and local governments, academic institutions and nongovernment organizations to effectively prepare for, and respond to, disasters and climate change. The program builds the institutional capacity of the Philippine government to respond to disasters; enhances the country’s logistics response capabilities; and improves vulnerability assessment and mapping techniques. The program also strengthens national and local disaster preparedness and mitigation plans by incorporating climate change adaptation activities into risk reduction planning.

Strengthening Humanitarian Coordination, Information Management and Preparedness
USAID/OFDA is supporting OCHA to increase the technical capacity of the Philippine government to undertake preparedness and response activities and activate in-country humanitarian coordination mechanisms during disasters. The project also facilitates opportunities for the government to engage in regional collaborative initiatives for effective disaster risk reduction monitoring, early warning, emergency response and preparedness.


In May 2017, conflict broke out between armed groups and the government of the Philippines in Marawi, displacing nearly 360,000 people. USAID has since committed over $20.9 million (Php1 billion) to support affected communities in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and the surrounding areas. In collaboration with the Philippine government and development organizations, USAID is delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance that is improving conditions in evacuation centers and host communities. For example, USAID is providing water and sanitation facilities, promoting good hygiene practices and distributing emergency shelter materials, benefitting over 7,500 families. In addition, USAID helped establish women- and child-friendly spaces to protect them from exploitation and violence, as well as support their psychosocial needs. USAID has also been providing health clinics in Marawi and surrounding areas with supplies and services to combat tuberculosis (TB) and support maternal, newborn and child health needs.

Most recently, USAID has committed to supporting vulnerable populations affected by the conflict. This assistance will expand opportunities for young women and men to enhance job skills and attain livelihoods, helping stimulate the economy. Building upon USAID’s extensive experience working with the Philippine government to advance development and peace in Mindanao, USAID will ramp up efforts to help vulnerable populations to encourage positive engagement within their communities and promote community alternatives to violent extremism. To bolster the longer-term recovery, USAID will help restore public services, like water and electricity, and will work with communities to jumpstart livelihoods, promote community dialogue, and improve health and education systems.

USAID’s early assistance involved restoring access to water by distributing 12,000 water containers and nearly 100,000 chlorine tablets to 12,000 families. USAID also helped displaced students to return to school by distributing 6,500 desks for schools where they are enrolled. USAID, in partnership with the Department of Health, has also conducted mass TB screenings for more than 1,000 adult evacuees and 400 children in evacuation centers in Marawi City and surrounding areas.

Last updated: March 06, 2018

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