Investing in Resilience: Learning from the Philippines
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. In the context of disasters, this runs the gamut from preparing for emergencies to responding to crises and recovering from them. But what does that mean in practice?
The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a Connecting Business initiative (CBi) Member Network, has been operational for a decade and their mission is to help build a resilient Philippines. Their experience in disaster and climate resilience serves as an inspiration for disaster management initiatives around the world, and in particular for fellow CBi Member networks. PDRF best practices include a business-led Emergency Operations Center (EOC), a platform for micro, small and medium businesses (MSMEs) to learn about business continuity and resilience, and interventions in a conflict-sensitivity setting.
The PDRF EOC monitors the situation while sharing warnings as needed. It does so through the Hazard and Disaster Analysis for Business Resilience (HANDA) disaster information management system. HANDA is a Geographic Information System Mapping (GIS)-based platform that shows current information ranging from areas with reported flooding, casualties, number of people missing, and more (see data below). PDRF also uses a survey to update the dashboard, which is available to network members.
A screenshot example of the HANDA disaster management information system dashboard details the impact of Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) and Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco).
PDRF is active on various fronts, visiting affected areas to assess and respond to damage; providing regular situational reports to its members; and leading the private sector response and engagement with regards to disasters.
This response capacity was the key to their ability to deal with a triple threat in 2020: COVID-19, Super Typhoon Goni (known locally as Rolly) and Super Typhoon Vamco (local name Ulysses).
A platform for MSMEs: SIKAP
SIKAP— or Synergizing Recovery Initiatives, Knowledge, and Adaptation Practices for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)—is a digital business resilience hub that enables MSMEs to bounce forward to the “next normal.” It’s an all-in-one source of practical and useful business tips, available loan programmes from government agencies and private sector organizations, and mentorship opportunities for MSMEs.
MSMEs—which form 99.6% of registered establishments in the Philippines and generate more than 60% of the country’s total employment—qualify as one of the country’s most vulnerable sectors. Aside from being at risk to natural and human-induced hazards, they also face the unintended consequences of COVID-19 measures.
SIKAP aims to provide a long-term, sustainable solution to the information gap on how MSMEs can navigate through uncertainties, facing current and future challenges through strength and resilience.
SIKAP was developed by PDRF with the support of the Connecting Business Initiative and in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
Intervening in a conflict-sensitive setting in Marawi
When a disaster strikes, aid interventions can have unintended consequences and lead to social tensions and ultimately more violence – even in otherwise peaceful contexts.
With examples from the conflicts in Zamboanga City and Marawi City, PDRF adjusted their operations to ensure that they do no harm as a way to mitigate the risk of conflicts, carefully integrating local context and sensitivities.
In Marawi, for example, PDRF worked with partners to provide livelihood assistance and market access to Maranao women weavers through the Weaving Hope in Marawi project. The focus was not only to revive traditional Langkit weaving practices, but also to provide mentoring and financial literacy sessions. The original project scope was to provide thread to weavers and buy the final products from them, but teaching business skills was later added when PDRF learned from local leaders and weaving groups that some elements of the project were considered unfair, increasing tensions between groups. For example, a group that had produced less than another group felt exploited as they did not earn as much. Adjusting the project scope eased the tensions and changed the outcomes of the evaluation.
“We are very thankful for the assistance that was given to us because it made us feel that we have already recovered from each of our sufferings. Their act of kindness, in its own way, has helped save us.” Hadja Nor-Asia Macapanton, beneficiary of the Weaving Hope in Marawi project
Read the full case study here: “First, do no harm: conflict sensitivity in Marawi City”.
With a full-time team, PDRF has extended its programming beyond traditional disaster management approaches, shining a light on aspects that often go unaddressed such as the importance of business continuity for public service offerings, notably government agencies and healthcare; mental health in the context of COVID-19 or the importance of investing in climate resilience of future generations by planting trees.
At CBi, we support private sector engagement before, during and after disasters, which includes peer-to-peer knowledge sharing between our Member Networks. It’s in that context that PDRF has provided insight and support to other private sector Member Networks, from Haiti to Turkey and beyond. What better way to embody the principle of “stronger together”?