Programme summary: The 2008-2009 appeal to support the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) focused mainly on organizational development where emphasis was placed on the continuous expansion of volunteers based throughout the country and increasing the national society's capacity in disaster management and health care.
Financial situation: While the total budget for 2008 was placed at CHF 2,158,654 (USD 1.93 million or EUR 1.31 million), there were no funding contributions made to the 2008-2009 annual appeal. No expenditure is therefore recorded under this appeal. However, capacity building in disaster management was carried out with the aid of funding from the 2006 Typhoons emergency appeal. In addition, the emergency appeal launched for Typhoon Fengshen in 2008, seeking CHF 1,996,287 (USD 1.87 million or EUR 1.34 million) to assist 80,000 families for six months is up to 99 per cent covered.
There is a move to channel funding from the recently closed 2006 Typhoons emergency appeal to support the annual plan 2009-2010, and so ensure that funding is available for the International Federation to assist in programme work and capacity building of the national society in the year ahead.
In-country, the PNRC works directly with the International Federation in emergency response and interlinked multilateral programme work. However, there are also several bilateral programmes being run in different parts of the country by the German Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross.
These projects focus on water and sanitation, rehabilitation of health facilities, disaster preparedness and mitigation, and barangay (village) disaster action team (BDAT) training.
As the largest voluntary humanitarian organization in the country, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) carries a clearly defined authority and a wide scope of multilateral humanitarian activities and social services. Its long-standing reputation of being extremely well-committed, highly organized and operational allows it to respond effectively when confronted with the multitude of disasters that occur in the country annually.
Philippines itself experiences an average of 20-25 typhoons every year which are often followed by largescale flooding and landslides. The country is also open to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In 2008, the country experienced a flurry of typhoons, floods, landslides and sea surges, and took an especially large buffeting from Typhoon Fengshen in June 2008 for which an emergency appeal was launched for CHF 8.3 million and later revised.
Given the frequency and intensity of natural disasters in the country, the national society and its provincial chapters have extensive experience and knowledge in relief and rehabilitation programmes in the Philippines context. These weigh significantly in carrying out assessments and coordinating the distribution of relief items, and lend efficiency and effectiveness to the activities of the PNRC, making it recognized and respected nationwide for its efforts in supporting those who need it most.
This positive image and reputation in humanitarian aid have helped PNRC develop good resource mobilization skills, and the national society has received much international and national support in times of disaster. The PNRC leadership continues to encourage maintaining the high profile of the PNRC and constantly challenges its staff and volunteers to expand their skills, knowledge and innovative thinking in their activities. PNRC recognizes the need for a change of approach in order to widen positive impact of its work on existing vulnerabilities, particularly in remote barangays or villages.
This approach looks towards strengthening and enhancing skills and response time of the national society as a whole. Apart from the anticipated natural weather events that frequently affect the country, there is also additional risk triggered by climate change. This does not bode well for many of the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines as various islands are only a few metres above sea level and could be swamped by rising sea waters.
Apart from impact caused by weather events, the Philippines is also home to an increasing number of families who regularly experience hunger. The national nutrition council reports the rise of severe malnutrition in the country in addition to the existing high level of micro-nutrient deficiency which traditionally results in the widespread stunting of children below age 12. With the rise in food prices, especially rice, additional burden is put on the poorest families who often reserve up to 80 per cent of all income for essential food items.
Lack of equality in distribution of resources and labour in the Philippines also results in limitations to education for many. The UNDP human development report (HDR) ranks the Philippines at 102 out of 179 countries with a medium-level human development rating(1). While poverty itself is multi-dimensional, the Philippines ranks at 37 out of 108 developing countries on the HDR index. In-country unemployment is at a high level and more than 10 per cent of Filipinos work abroad. Their overseas remittance constitutes vital income for many. Currency fluctuations between the USD and the Philippine peso (PHP) have also reduced the Filipino public's purchasing power, increasing the financial burden of those struggling to cope with the high price of food items.
Lack of access to safe land is yet another difficulty facing many families. The number of homeless and squatters add to high pre-existing numbers of poor people; their children also do not attend school and as such, will lack qualifications for adequate jobs in the future. There is a high probability that they too will end up homeless like their parents. As such, the PNRC faces great challenges in serving an ever-growing population of which a large portion is economically deprived.
The government provides some support to those who have lost their homes; however, its focus is limited in this respect as more wide-reaching concerns such as the price of rice and the re-construction of public infrastructure are also part of their mandate. Also, renewed conflict in the southern area of the country puts additional pressure on government resources. People in these areas who are impacted by such conflict are also supported by the PNRC.