Building resilient communities in the Philippines

Giving By Emily Larson February 24, 2021

In the Philippines—one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world—support for disaster preparedness is critical. Nearly every year, the country faces natural disasters that could include typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes, and outbreaks of disease. Considering the country’s exposure to hazards, socioeconomic and social vulnerability, and its limited coping capacity, the European Commission Index for Risk Management ranks the Philippines as High Risk.

The Western Union Foundation’s mission is to provide vulnerable populations with access to the tools and resources needed for economic opportunity. We understand the importance of supporting these same vulnerable populations when a crisis strikes, whether it be from a natural disaster or human-caused crises. That is why we partner with International Medical Corps in the Philippines—its efforts to provide immediate relief and sustainable rebuilding for communities, as well as to provide demand-driven training and education support opportunities, help individuals thrive.

In 2020, we embarked together on the “Building Resilient Communities in the Philippines” program. The country was facing the impacts of Typhoon Phanfone, the eruption of the Taal Volcano, and the outbreak of COVID-19. In fact, the Philippines was the first country outside of mainland China to report a death from COVID-19. By mid-March, hospitals across the country, including in metro Manila – the pandemic’s epicenter in the country– were overstretched as a result.

Western Union Foundation helped International Medical Corps address the most pressing needs caused by COVID-19. The goal remained to build resilience for the communities in the Philippines while building capacity to respond to future outbreaks and disasters. Across Manila and Dasmariñas, International Medical Corps’ teams supported some 22,000 people. It provided COVID-19 and infection prevention and control (IPC) training to health workers; first-aid supplies to help individuals stay safe and prevent infection in the event of future disasters; education and communication materials to inform communities and health facilities about COVID-19; personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene supplies, to help keep health facilities going; and patient transport for those most in need.

“The training on infection prevention and control in the home and community setting was very helpful to us,” said Maribel, a trainee from Manila. “It helped me and our Barangay Health Emergency Response Team members to fully understand the need for proper use of PPE, especially when responding to suspected [COVID-19] cases.”

Western Union Foundation also supported International Medical Corps’ growing COVID-19 response in Quezon City, just outside of Manila. There, their team provided community members with COVID-19 kits, which included IPC and hygiene supplies—such as washable cloth face mask, soap, and disinfectants—to prevent the spread of COVID-19. International Medical Corps also distributed COVID-19 messaging to educate community members on the virus and how to prevent its spread.

We work with International Medical Corps in times of crisis around the world. Other recent responses include the explosion in Beirut, global COVID-19 relief in a range of countries, and responses to typhoons Phanfone, Goni, and Vamco in the Philippines. Learn more about the work of the Western Union Foundation here, and follow us on Twitter for the latest news.