By Stephanie Brown, Marketing and Communication Manager CUFA
On 8 November 2013 a catastrophic Typhoon hit the Visayas region of the Philippines. This natural disaster claimed the lives of 6,000 people and has been recorded as the deadliest Typhoon to hit land. CUFA’s Typhoon Haiyan Appeal raised funds to assist those living in the the most affected areas to help them get back on their feet.
Initial needs assessments undertaken by VICTO National, the cooperative federation and development centre in the region, at least 30,000 members from 26 primary credit unions affiliated with VICTO National lost their sources of livelihoods. These members depend on coconut, rice and corn farming, fishing, livestock-raising, vending and petty trading for a living.
Credit unions that have been in the forefront of creating livelihoods and providing economic and social services to the poor and marginalised were not spared. A number of credit unions in the area were affected by this catastrophic storm with damage to their buildings and records. There was difficulty in attending the needs of the members as their computers were damaged by the floods caused by the storm surge.
In response to the devastation, CUFA ran an appeal to collect funds to assist the credit unions affected in the areas to help them get back up and running to assist their membership base. With the enormous support of the Australian Mutual movement and their fundraising efforts, CUFA’s Appeal consolidated with funds raised by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Irish League of Credit Unions raised over US$240,000.
In collaboration with VICTO National, CUFA, WOCCU and the Irish League of Credit Unions are participating in a rehabilitation project in Haiyan-affected areas.
The biggest challenges the credit unions face as a result of the loss of livelihoods of members are liquidity, delinquency and profitability. Savings and capital build up will be affected and members may also fail to meet their loan repayments thus increasing delinquency and decreasing profitability for the credit union affecting the ability to provide more loans to members in need to capital to rebuild their lives.
The aim of the rehabilitation project is to assist affected credit unions to return to normal function in order to assist the members affected.
The Bangon Coop: A Pilot Project for Easter Visayas implemented by VICTO National through the donations collected by CUFA, WOCCU and the Irish Credit Union League will entail the repair or renovation of damaged building structures, facilities and equipment relevant to the recovery of the business functions of the Typhoon-affected credit unions in the province of Leyte and Tacloban City. These include electricity connections, communication lines and furniture.
This project will specifically focus on helping rebuild nine affected credit unions and their branches reaching 233,500 members in the repair of their critically damaged buildings and equipment. Each of these nine credit unions has a minimum of 1000 members thus ensuring that the project has the maximum reach. The aim is for this pilot project to be completed within six months following its commencement.
Thank you to all who donated and made contributions to CUFA’s Typhoon Haiyan Appeal. We are looking forward to assisting credit unions affected and helping them to assist their members in getting their lives back on track.
We look forward to keeping you updated on the project’s progress in the coming months.