Programme(s) summary: The 2008-2009 appeal to support the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) focuses on organizational development, with an emphasis on expanding its volunteer base throughout the country, as well as increasing its capacity in disaster management and health and care.
Financial situation: The total budget for 2008 is CHF 2,158,654 (USD 1.93 million or EUR 1.31 million). Unfortunately, there have been no contributions to this appeal to date, and therefore, no expenditure under this appeal. However, funding from the 2006 typhoon emergency appeal has contributed towards capacity building in disaster management. Additionally, on 24 June 2008, an emergency appeal for Typhoon Fengshen was launched, seeking CHF 1,996,287 (USD 1,878,149 or EUR 1,343,281) to assist 80,000 families for six months. To date, this appeal is 87 per cent covered.
The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) is the largest voluntary humanitarian organization in the Philippines with a clearly defined authority and scope of multilateral humanitarian activities and social services in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people. The society and its provincial chapters have extensive knowledge in relief and rehabilitation programmes in the wake of natural disasters, which occur regularly in the Philippines.
Typhoons are the largest killers in the Philippines, followed by earthquakes, volcanoes and floods. Typhoon deaths in the country total 28,812 with a total of USD5,653 million (CHF 6,085 million) in damages in the 20th century (World Bank and NDCC, 2004).
The PNRC, as an auxiliary to the government, has played an instrumental role in the disaster response. The enthusiastic outpouring of support from the national society's volunteers who play an essential role in carrying out assessments and coordinating the distribution of relief items is recognized and respected nationally for its efforts in supporting those affected.
With the aid of its strong image and reputation in the area of humanitarian aid, the PNRC has developed good fundraising skills and received much international support in times of disasters. The leadership of the national society is very keen on maintaining the high profile of the PNRC, and constantly challenges its staff and volunteers to be more proactive, and to respond in more rapid, efficient and innovative ways. PNRC recognizes the need for a changed approach in order to have more impact on existing vulnerability in the remote barangays (villages). This draws on both local thinking and on the International Federation's global vision: striving through voluntary action for a world of empowered communities, better able to address human suffering and crises.
Given the additional risks triggered by climate change, this approach looks towards enhancing the skills and response time of the national society as a whole. Climate change looks set to affect the Philippines to a greater degree than it may other countries. Many of the 7,000 islands that constitute the country lie at only a few metres above sea level, meaning any rise in ocean levels would have a tremendous consequence for the country as a whole. The PNRC faces great challenges in serving an ever-growin g population, a large portion of which is economically deprived.
Indeed, the country faces an increasing number of families that regularly experience hunger. The National Nutrition Council reports the re-emergence of severe malnutrition in addition to the existing high level of micro-nutrient deficiency which traditionally results in the widespread stunning of children of primary school age. A sharp increase in the price of rice, the main staple food in the Philippines, puts an additional burden on the poorest, which often reserve 80 per cent of all income for the purchase of basic food commodities.
It is well known that there are high levels of inequality in the distribution of resources and labour in the Philippines which result in factual limitations of access to education for many. There is an immense unemployment and more than 10 per cent of Filipinos are actually working abroad as overseas Filipino workers (OFW). Their remittances to their families in country are vital for many. Over the last six months, severe fluctuations in the USD/Peso exchange rate have significantly reduced the purchase power of many of the same families that are in the same time struggling to cope with the higher cost of rice and other food items.
Lack of access to safe land gives many families limited choice in terms of where to live. Increasing numbers of homeless and squatters add to high pre-existing numbers of multi-generational structural poor: children of today's homeless do not attend school and will not have the qualifications to have an adequate job themselves in the future. The probability is high that they will find themselves tomorrow in the same streets as their parents are today.
The government provides some support to those who lost their homes but is also limited in its capacity to assist as it is already focusing on the control of the price of rice and on the reconstruction of public infrastructure. The effect of renewed violence in Mindanao puts additional strain on already scarce government resources.
The national society also continues to support those impacted by three ongoing armed insurgencies in the country, mainly concentrated in Mindanao, located in the southern part of the country.