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Beneficiary families bought food and other essential items from their cash aid.

Quezon City, Philippines – Around 130 urban poor families in Valenzuela City affected by the COVID-19 crisis have received relief assistance from the Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc. (FSSI), through an initiative by the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) and the Foundation for the Development of the Urban Poor (FDUP), in partnership with Aksyon sa Kahandaan sa Kalamidad at Klima (AKKMA) and Valenzuela People’s Organization Network (VALPONET). 

In an effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the entire Luzon was placed under a month-long enhanced community quarantine starting last March 17, 2020, affecting the income and livelihood of many urban poor families in Metro Manila. The assistance, which came in the form of unconditional cash grants amounting to Php 1,500 for each family, was intended to provide immediate support to affected families, mainly for food and other basic needs. 

The priority recipients were those whose main income earners are workers in the public transport sector, wage earners under a “no work, no pay” arrangement, and other informal sectors such as vendors and other service providers. Further considerations were also given to vulnerable families such as those whose members include persons with disability, elderly couples living alone, and single-headed households. The assistance was distributed in five barangays in the city– Barangay Mapulang Lupa, Barangay Bagbaguin, Barangay Paso de Blas, Barangay Dalandanan, and Barangay Coloong. 

The response was managed by the city federation and its member people’s organizations, particularly VALPONET, with guidance from PHILSSA and FDUP. The initiative aims to be a pilot of a community-managed humanitarian action that can be replicated in other affected areas. Given the unique limitations posed by physical distancing measures in crisis response, community leaders took the lead in community monitoring, selection of beneficiary families, and information dissemination to ensure smooth and proper implementation. Money remittance service Palawan Express was tapped to manage the actual cash grant distribution to the beneficiary families through scheduled pay-out in their nearby branches to minimize social contact.  

Beneficiaries receive their cash grant from Palawan Express. 

“The situation at hand is very different and we cannot go out, conduct needs analysis in the area, and meet for planning and implementation, as what is usually done during crisis response,” said PHILSSA National Coordinator Dick Balderrama. “This time, it was the community leaders who managed the process, demonstrating localization and partnership in a deeper way. We took this opportunity to strengthen a local people’s organization because this can help in developing an appropriate and responsive humanitarian action in light of the community quarantine.”   

FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet said the foundation supported the initiative because of the role of the local people’s organization and support NGOs, which ensured good targeting of beneficiaries, and also because it was a quick response – while government was still setting up its cash grants and other support for the affected families.  

*Updated as of 22 April 2020 

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