NGO: Advance cash aid work better than post-typhoon relief

By Mavic Conde


Should cash aids be given before disaster strikes? That’s what a group of humanitarian actors, local government officials, and business organizations aims to find out with the Building Resilient, Adaptive and Disaster Ready Communities Project (B-READY), which was piloted in Salcedo, Eastern Samar.


“B-READY uses a smart data early warning system developed by Global Parametrics, which produces a precise forecast of the typhoon path. This information is then shared with the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and is used to trigger the release of pre-emptive cash transfer via PayMaya’s digital platform,” according to a news release from Oxfam Philippines, an NGO that is part of this project.


Anticipatory actions like these are crucial, especially that in times of disasters time is of the essence and people can’t wait, Yolanda-hit Salcedo Mayor Melchor Mergal told Oxfam.


In the Bicol, a report soon after typhoon Rolly devastated the region in 2020 also echoes this need. According to a barangay official, affected families often contact relatives from outside their provinces to ask for financial help or borrow money because government aid may take time. Others are also forced to borrow from lenders with high interest rates.


With the B-READY program, target households in Salcedo, Eastern Samar had safely accessed cash assistance before Typhoon Auring hit the town in February 2021. This allowed them to “stockpile food, medicines for their basic needs and even secure livelihood assets,” according to Oxfam senior manager for Programs and Partnerships Maria Theresa Abogado.


Since the beneficiaries are most prone to typhoon hazards and households with women, children, persons with disability, elderly and other vulnerable groups living in poverty, “Cash before or just [prior to] an event currently will often be three times more valuable,” said Toby Behrmann of Global Parametrics.


However, Republic Act 10121 or the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act prohibits local governments from using their Disaster Risk Reduction funds for pre-disaster cash transfers.


Nonetheless, the People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) was able to facilitate the preparations needed for the roll-out of B-READY’s pre-disaster cash assistance in Salcedo, thanks also the “high interest and strong participation of community members,” said


PDRRN Executive Director Esteban Masagca.