NGO coalition to mobilize networks for disaster response

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 December) – A major coalition of NGOs in the country will be mobilizing its networks to strengthen coordination among agencies in times of disasters.

“It has become a necessity for us development organizations to mainstream disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and climate change adaptation (CCA) in our interventions,” said Andrea Maria Patricia Sarenas, Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) chairperson, in a press conference on Thursday.

She named the long list of disasters that have struck the country since 2006 (from typhoons to earthquakes) and emphasized that DRRM and CCA are a key emerging concern, as defined by their 2013-2017 strategic plan.

To address the effects caused by the increasing intensity and frequency of these disasters, which Sarenas attributed to climate change, CODE-NGO will be utilizing their network to “lead and/or participate in creating CSO-based DRRM coordination hubs” in areas where they are present or represented by a member.

“This ensures well-coordinated disaster response and rehabilitation efforts,” she said.

The hubs will support inter-organization learning exchanges and preparations before disaster strikes, and create an effective coordination between civil society organizations and international humanitarian agencies during and after disasters.

Sarenas said four of these hubs will be put up in Mindanao to cover disaster prone regions – Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen and Zamboanga Peninsula.

PhilSSA, a CODE-NGO partner, will take charge of collecting data and coordinating with other responding institutions.

PhilSSA national coordinator Benedict Balderrama noted that these hubs will not entirely be physical structures but networks of people coming together in times of need.

Sarenas said she hopes that these DRRM mechanisms will also strengthen engagement with local and national governments, especially now that a typhoon has entered the country.

“Many of us are also engaging the government at the national, regional, provincial, and municipal levels,” she said.

She said that currently, many of their member organizations are involved in rehabilitation and resilience programs in rural and urban communities that were hit by typhoons Reming (2006), Frank (2008), and Ondoy and Pepeng (2009).

In Mindanao, Sarenas said they have been involved too in programs in farming and fishing communities hit by typhoons Sendong (2011) and Pablo (2012). She said they have many members in these communities.

In 2013, she said that other members of their organization were affected by the Bohol earthquake and typhoon Yolanda.

CODE-NGO is composed of six national and six regional civil society organizations in the country. It represents some 2,000 NGOs, people’s organizations, and cooperatives from all over the country.

Its Mindanao arm, the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks has at least 800 member organizations in all the six regions in Mindanao.

CODE-NGO held its Social Development Celebration for 2014 at the SMX in Davao this week. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)