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852 families receive cash assistance in Dolores, E. Samar before floods hit

At least 852 families in flood-prone barangays in Dolores town in Eastern Samar received preemptive cash assistance from the local government in anticipation of the potential impacts of the shear line and low-pressure area last November 18.

The initiative was a proactive disaster preparedness measure by the local government of Dolores to help vulnerable communities better prepare for the coming disaster following the weather advisory from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.

“We have learned that the best way to save lives and livelihoods is to act before a disaster happens. The cash assistance will help vulnerable communities prioritize the needs of their families before evacuation,” Dolores Town Mayor Rodrigo Rivera said.

Under the initiative, each family received P1,500 in anticipatory cash assistance, which is equivalent to more than three days’ worth of daily wage in Eastern Visayas, to facilitate preparedness for the potential effects of an approaching typhoon. This financial support empowers families to address their most immediate needs, including food, emergency kits, and materials to safeguard their livelihoods.

The municipality of Dolores is a third-class municipality in the Province of Eastern Samar. It is a coastal town facing the Pacific and home to the Dolores river basin which covers the municipalities of Dolores and Maslog in Eastern Samar, and San Jose de Buan in Samar. It also covers some portions of the municipalities of Arteche, Jipapad, Dolores, and Can-Avid in Eastern Samar and some portions of the municipalities of Paranas and Matuguinao in Samar.

The municipality of Dolores has established an institutionalized anticipatory action pre-emptive cash transfer as part of the Strengthening Harmonized Action for Disaster Risk Reduction, Preparedness and Early Recovery (SHARPER) Project implemented by Oxfam Pilipinas and Sentro Para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya (SIKAT).

Although the low-pressure area did not develop into a typhoon, it triggered flash floods due to heavy rain in Eastern Samar and Northern Samar on Monday. Among the towns hit by severe flooding were Dolores and Jipapad, and Borongan City in Eastern Samar.

The initial situation report by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office of Eastern Samar reported an estimated 5.8M worth of damages to Agriculture.

The province of Northern Samar, more than 200 kilometers away from Dolores, Easter Samar, recorded 619 millimeters of rain within 24 hours, which PAGASA said was equivalent to six weeks’ worth of rain in the province. This surpassed the 24-hour rainfall brought about by Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana), which claimed 789 lives and caused damages worth $6.2 billion in 2009.

In the recent study published by Oxfam Pilipinas, the organization emphasized the need to strengthen disaster risk governance of local governments by shifting from reactive to proactive and effective utilization of the government calamity funds.

The report recommended anticipatory actions, such as the disbursement of preemptive cash assistance and asset protection through crop and asset insurance before any hazard strikes, enabling communities to prepare better and support the needs of their families.

This innovation uses weather forecast information, local knowledge, and historical data on disaster events in the community, which triggers the release of anticipatory cash assistance. The flood trigger index was developed by the municipality anticipatory action unit, which is composed of the local government and civil society organization partners. 

“We have proven and tested that anticipatory actions can help save lives and protect livelihoods. The poorest and the most vulnerable communities need inclusive and community-based disaster preparedness and anticipatory actions to better cope with the devastating effects of the climate crisis,” Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo said.

Currently, Oxfam Pilipinas and its partners are studying the proposal for a bill institutionalizing the mechanism for declaring a state of imminent disaster that will enable national and local governments to release funds before disasters occur.



Denvie Balidoy | Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing, Oxfam PilipinasEmail: | Mobile: 0917772516