Co-operatives step in to help the Philippines recover from typhoons

Local co-operatives and the International Co-operative Alliance for Asia-Pacific have stepped in to support affected co-ops

A country prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tropical storms – the Philippines witnesses as many as 20 cyclones a year, more than anywhere else in the world.

Over the past couple of weeks the country was struck by a series of storms, starting with Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) on 1 November.

Initial reports from National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that the typhoon affected two million people while 142,475 families had to be relocated to evacuation centres.

Those working in agricultural sector were among the worst hit – around 16,900 hectares of cropland were damaged, affecting some 18,000 farmers. It is estimated that 66,000 metric tons of rice, corn, and other high value crops were damaged. NDRRMC estimated  ₱12.87bn (£199m) of infrastructure damages, along with ₱5bn (£77m) of agricultural damage with a combined total of ₱17.87bn (£277m) affected areas.

Electric co-operatives were also severely damaged by typhoon Rolly – the National Electrification Administration (NEA) estimated damages of ₱30.5m (£466,197) to the sector. Rolly is the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in 2020.

Less than two weeks later Typhoon Ulysses, also known as Vamco, struck the main island of Luzon on 11 November with catastrophic winds of up to 280 km/h and torrential rainfall. The storm caused severe flooding particularly in the northern part of the Philippines, and it displaced thousands of families.

Climbs Life and General Insurance Cooperative was quick to respond to its members’ needs. Climbs was set up 1971 by the Southern Philippines Educational Cooperative (SPECC) and the Misamis Oriental-Bukidnon-Camiguin Federation of Cooperatives (MBC) to provide mutual protection to low-income farmers, fishermen, employees and labourers members of co-ops who could not afford or did not have easy access to insurance products offered by commercial insurers. It now serves 4,000 co-operatives across the country.

Around 100 co-operatives members of Climbs Life & General Insurance Cooperative were impacted by the typhoons. To support its member co-ops, Climbs mobilised PhP1 Million (£15,539) through its Community Action Response to Emergency Services programme.

Climbs president and CEO, Noel D. Raboy, said: “The Philippines ranks high on most global indices for vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters. The destruction of past and recent typhoons should encourage us to develop our foresight and vision for the long term.

“Natural calamities are stark reminders to all Filipinos of the important task ahead to build the resilience of Philippine society and protect the country and its people from future disasters. Together with other co-operatives, Climbs is working hard in a proactive and responsive manner to achieve this goal.”

ICA-AP launches fundraising appeal

To support its members in the Philippines, the International Cooperative Alliance Asia-Pacific has launched a call for donations.

The Philippines Cooperative Center told ICA-AP: “Some houses were washed away and many vehicles got turned upside down by the rushing muddy waters,“ it said. “Even posh subdivisions with high concrete walls were not spared, with some of those walls coming down.

“Lifetime savings on furniture and appliances also got figuratively washed away with the floodwaters. Following the onslaught of the floods, many houses were left bare, with only thick mud left as a dismal reminder of the catastrophe.” 

Those wishing to support Filipino co-operatives can send donations to the 2020 Philippines Typhoon Support and direct them to the ICA Global Bank account. More details are available on the ICA’s website.

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