Philippines: How cash grants helped farmers recover from typhoon

Mario Montal, from Barangay Ligaya, Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, has been a rice and onion farmer for decades

Five months ago, the province of Nueva Ecija in the Philippines seemed temporarily like a vast sea. Rice and other high value crops were instantly destroyed by a typhoon that brought heavy winds, intense rain and widespread flooding across Central Luzon.

“We were about to harvest rice, onions, cabbage and string beans,” says Mario Montal, a rice and onion farmer from Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija.

Unfortunately, we lost everything. That was really devastating on our part because we invested so much.

Damaged farm field
An onion and rice field covered in mud and rocks washed down from the mountains by heavy rains

“The farm lands were flooded and also covered with rocks coming from the mountains so we obviously struggled to replant,” he added.

Mario is one of the three million people affected by Typhoon Lando, most of whom rely on agriculture and livestock as their primary source of income.

“Farmers in my village worked hard to clear the lands and started planting onions again. Though huge part of the farm lands would take time to be rehabilitated for planting, we managed to have a livelihood through the support we received,” Mario said.

Mario Montal in front of his storm-damaged house
Mario Montal outside his storm-damaged house

Following the typhoon, CARE was part of a consortium of organisations (with Action Against Hunger and Save the Children) working with funding from ECHO (European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) to provide affected people with cash grants to enable them to restore or kick start income-generating activities.

Mario invested his grant in fertiliser so he can start planting onions again, and is expecting to harvest them next month. He said his earnings from the support would really help him cover his children’s school expenses.

Karen Pascua with one of her goats
Karen Pascua with the goats that she bought with her cash grant

In Laur, Karen Pascua said the recovery wasn’t an easy journey but she said she’s determined to continue working hard for her four children.

“As we all see, our rice and onion fields were severely damaged by the typhoon,” said Karen.

Good thing we have received cash support to re-establish or start another livelihood.

Karen had to take over the responsibility of earning for their family after her husband needed to stop working because of an injury. Aside from working in the onion field, Karen is now raising two goats after receiving the cash support.

“Raising goats isn’t really difficult. I just feed and let them roam around. I am able to do household chores and work in the field as well. One of the goats is already pregnant. I am planning to raise more goats so I can sell them for additional income,” she said.

Women attending a community meeting
Community members during the post-distribution monitoring session conducted by the Consortium team at Barangay Ligaya

The consortium held sessions with community members on community risk assessment and basic disaster risk reduction to help farmers prepare for future climate shocks, including the impacts of the current El Nino weather phenomenon.

“Most of them are casual farm labourers and do not own the land but we witnessed how they strived hard to be able to restore their damaged farm lands,” said CARE’s Athena Gepte, the Consortium Coordinator of the ECHO-funded project.

We closely worked with the farmers to keep their livelihoods sustainable.

Luzviminda Azur in the Philippines
Luzviminda Azur, from Barangay Ligaya, Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, used the cash support to buy and sell soaps
Leonida Rodriguez in the Philippines
Leonida Rodriguez, from Barangay San Fernando, Laur, Nueva Ecija, used the cash support to start a rice-vending business

A total of 2,300 households received cash assistance and livelihood strategy planning and community risk assessment sessions between December 2015 and March 2016.

By Dennis Amata, Communications Manager, CARE Philippines

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.