Locally based civil society organizations (CSOs) are facing an increasing need to perform as humanitarian NGOs in the face of climate change and the global pandemic situation.
Kevin Lee, executive director of A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) stated recently that “most local NGOs who primarily function as environmental advocacy groups have expressed an interest to be able to conduct effective relief operations to serve their partner communities better.
He pointed out that the humanitarian industry is guided by a humanitarian charter, with certain codes of conduct and principles, which the government, NGOs, and CSOs should emulate as they serve.
“Particularly in Palawan, it’s going to occur more often with the impact of climate change, combined with the economic impacts brought by COVID-19, more people are now below the poverty threshold and are now more vulnerable to times of crisis. There is a need for the CSO sector to be able to switch, and when they do, do things the right way,” Lee told Palawan News on Saturday.
Lee’s organization, which advocates for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH), also functions as a humanitarian response organization during calamities country-wide. As part of the response, ASDSW, working with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) initially gathered the Palawan Civil Society Sector to work on coordination and how to provide a voice for local communities during the recovery process. This included the recently concluded “Basic Humanitarian Response Training and Workshop: How to launch an effective and impactful emergency relief operations” with an objective to orient CSOs and LGUs on basic humanitarian principles, how to work with government and coordinate for effective relief, how to assess and design responses meeting humanitarian standards.
During the two-day training held from February 10-11, Lee said their key learnings included the importance of coordination with local government units, having the right assessment tools to determine which communities are most vulnerable and what their needs are, and budgeting limited resources.
“I think there is a desire for local NGOs to continue to build their capacity to do humanitarian work and build a structure so that in times of crisis, we can actually coordinate,” he explained
Lee said that although ASDSW may not hold large-scale trainings, they are open to facilitate training and learning sessions at their operation centers in Puerto Princesa. ASDSW currently operates in Old Buncag, Barangay Mandaragat, and in Barangay San Manuel.
ASDSW is a local NGO based in Puerto Princesa City that works closely with local government units and communities building demand for water and sanitation services, strengthening governance, and developing infrastructure and management systems. In times of crisis, ASDSW implements large scale humanitarian responses, such as for typhoons Sendong, Pablo, and Yolanda as well as earthquakes in Mindanao and Bohol and small and large scale conflicts like the Marawi siege In Palawan, since Typhoon Odette, they have been working with LGUs at all levels and partner communities, distributing water disinfectant and storage, hygiene and shelter kits, as well as unconditional cash grants. They have also been working with water service providers repairing water systems or supplying generators so as to return water services to impacted areas. Currently, operations are ongoing in Roxas and Northern Puerto Princesa City with the potential to expand to other areas in the near future. (With a report from Romar Miranda)
[This is an updated story from a previously published report on February 14.]