Philippines: Helping Remote Communities Recover From Typhoon Haiyan

Abaca plantations in ruins after Typhoon Haiyan.

 

Photo Courtesy of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Philippines

The 120 houses of Barangay Sugnod in the mountains of Aklan province on Panay Island stretch along a small road between green hills. In the warm February sunshine, the community looks like a wonderful place to live, but in November 2013, it was one of the worst places.

AKLAN - The might of Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, felled whole plantations of abaca and coconut trees on the hillsides. The few coconut palms left standing were damaged so much that they will remain unable to produce for years to come. The main source of income for the inhabitants of Barangay Sugnod is gone with the trees.

“The partnership with WFP will allow us to help villagers rebuild their assets and secure their livelihood. We have high hopes for these communities because they define who we are as a province,” says Alexys Apolonio of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

“Abaca fiber and coconut are the main products of the province. Before Typhoon Yolanda destroyed the plantations, Sugnod was one of the communities which contributed significantly to the province’s supply, and we see a dire need to help them,” he explains.

 
Photo courtesy of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Philippines

After Yolanda, reforestation is an urgent priority: The roots of plantations used to hold together the topsoil of the hills that surround Barangay Sugnod. Now that most of the trees have died, the community is vulnerable to landslides during strong rains.

With seedlings and technical assistance provided by the Municipal Local Government, the villagers will establish a nursery and later on replant the hillsides. In exchange for the time and effort invested in these activities, WFP will provide each participant with cash. Families will use the money to buy food in the local market, and the plantations will help ensure their food security and nutrition in the long term.

“Our vision in DAR is to improve the quality of life of smallholder farmers by improving their productivity, increasing access to social services and empowering them individually,” adds Alexys. “Our partnership with WFP is a first step to help us achieve this goal.”