Kaligan with some of her children outside their home in Damablak, Maguindanao. Credit: OCHA
Kaligan lives with her husband and eight children in Maguindanao on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Maguindanao, which literally means ‘people of the flood plains,’ is prone to climate-related disasters and has been seriously affected by conflict between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting for autonomy for the Moro people over the past four decades.
In 2008, when fighting broke out between the two parties, some 750,000 people were displaced including Kaligan’s family who did return home until 2010. Their house was damaged and two years later, they are still struggling to rebuild their lives.
“When we first returned home, there was food given to us for a while. My husband is a farmer and a fisherman, and he was able to work again with some tools supplied by NGOs,” Kaligan said.
“But our daily life is very hard. One sack of rice lasts us seven days. My husband cannot farm at the moment because there is no river water available while there is a project to rehabilitate the irrigation system. So we have the fish he catches, and if we are hungry, we sell one of our ducks to buy rice. We are getting the fields ready and we hope to plant one day soon.”
Devastating natural disasters like Tropical Storm Washi
, which swept across northern Mindanao in December 2011, exacerbate the long-term humanitarian crisis in the region. The storm left more than 1,400 people dead and displaced some 430,000 people. The repeated cycles of displacement from conflict and natural disasters are affecting the local communities’ ability to re-establish their livelihoods, homes, children’s education and healthcare services.
The OCHA-managed Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
recently provided funding to repair and refurbish Barangay Health Station in Maguindanao with medical equipment, medicines and other essential supplies. So far this year, CERF has allocated about US$3.9 million to provide food, clean water, sanitation, emergency shelter and agricultural support to families like Kaligan’s that have been affected by conflict. Another $2.9 million was allocated to provide life-saving aid to communities affected by Tropical Storm Washi.
“Also since we returned, a water pump and toilet facility has been installed. We are happy about that, although when the children drank the water they had diarrhea. But I am not worried about their health now. I am pleased there is a health station which is close by, it is easy to go to,” Kaligan said.
But this year’s humanitarian funding appeal for these families remains only 30 per cent funded. The shortfall has already affected malnutrition programmes, leaving as many as 60,000 children without proper treatment. The World Health Organization
has not been able to rehabilitate about 40 health stations, affecting the healthcare of at least 50,000 people. Aid organizations are concerned that without enough funding, thousands of displaced people will not have proper shelter before the next monsoon season.
Kaligan and her family are worried that when the rains start, there will be more flooding in their village of Damablak, a small farming community with no paved roads. Recently the ground turned muddy after just a few hours of rain. Without proper shelter, the family could find itself displaced once again.
Reporting by OCHA/ Philippines