Philippines: Ensuring Food Security Through Emergency Cash Assistance

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency cash assistance to the most vulnerable families affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Maribel Maraya is one of those who have received this assistance, and shares how she will use the money she has just received. 

PALO, LEYTE -- In the municipality of Palo in Leyte province, one of the areas badly affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, a long line has formed outside the municipal hall. The queue, which is made up of families affected by the calamity, is for the scheduled cash distribution of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (Bridging Filipino Families out of Poverty) Program, which is a conditional cash transfer programme considered as the Philippine Government’s flagship anti-poverty effort. 

For the over 2,600 people who are now patiently waiting for their turn to receive the money, today’s distribution is a little different. Today, the programme members are receiving an additional PhP1,300 (US$30) from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which is providing the money as a form of emergency cash assistance to the most vulnerable families affected by Typhoon Haiyan. 

WFP is using the DSWD’s well-established system since the people that WFP had identified through independent assessments also turned out to be members of the DSWD’s conditional cash transfer programme. The WFP emergency cash assistance is intended to allow beneficiaries to buy additional food items to complement the WFP rice they have received from earlier distributions.    

One of those in line today is 25-year old Maribel Maraya, a homemaker from Barangay Capirawan. She shares how, at three months pregnant, she lived through Typhoon Haiyan and its aftermath.  

“I was living in Carigara (municipality) with my second husband when Typhoon Haiyan came. The difficult part was that my 6-year old child from my first husband was in Capirawan with my mother, and I couldn’t check on them until more than two weeks after the typhoon because the roads were impassable,” she says. 

When she finally got to Capirawan, she was relieved to find that her child and 67-year old mother survived the calamity. “They stayed with one of my siblings. They lived in a tent for days,” she explains.  Since finding her child and mother, she has not left Capirawan, deciding to stay there first to be with her 6-year old child, for whom she is receiving this money from the DSWD and WFP. 

“I will use this money from DSWD to buy school supplies and clothes for my child, and then the WFP money I will use to buy food. And if there’s still some left, materials to rebuild the house for my mother,” she says. She shares that her husband has been able to rebuild their house in Carigara, which is why she is using all the money to help her family in Capirawan recover.  

While there may not be much of a Christmas for Maribel and her family this year, she remains hopeful that she will still have extra money so she can prepare something special for her family this holiday. "There really is no Christmas for us this year, but if there's some money left, then I will use it to buy some food for a little celebration," she says.