By Bethany Scott, Marketing and Communications Volunteer CUFA
As a result of the consolidated efforts of the generous supporters of CUFA, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions and the Irish League of Credit Unions the repair and restoration of the Philippine Cooperative Movement is well underway, with many financial cooperatives already up and and running after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the region in November 2013.
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, affected 27 provinces across 6 regions of the country. Like much of the Philippines, the Eastern Visayas region which contains the cities of Samar, Tacolban, Leyte and Panay Island is very low lying, and was one ofthe areas worst affected by the cyclone. The catastrophic damage caused in this area resulted in 5,877 confirmed fatalities, with whole areas completely washed away by storm surges of between 4-6m across the region. In surrounding areas, extensive damage caused prolonged isolation and towns and villages were cut off from assistance, remaining with no power for weeks.
Philippine Cooperatives which have been providing financial and social services to the poor for many years were not spared the wrath of Haiyan, and many local Credit Unions lost their buildings, their equipment and therefore their ability to tend to the needs of those affected by the storm.
Over 30,000 members of Cooperatives in the region lost their livelihoods, their homes and their family members, and many were unable to repay loans, leading to a decrease in profitability as cooperatives were faced with a lack of funds available for new loans.
Although staff and members of credit unions were some of those worst affected by Haiyan, the World Council’s fundraising arm, The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions was aware that the most effective way to aid in the recovery from such a disaster was to ensure branches were up and running as soon as possible. This was important in bolstering community confidence and ensuring that the rehabilitation of the poor was a priority in the recovery process.
The Bangon Coop Pilot Project in Eastern Visayas was developed by the VICTO National Cooperative Federation and Development Centre as a disaster, response and recovery unit. The Coop was funded through the consolidated efforts of CUFA, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions and the Irish League of Credit Unions, who raised over US$240,000 to enable the assessment and repair of 9 critically damaged Cooperatives and their branches in order to recover business function for union members as soon as possible.
The project, which was managed and coordinated by VICTO National was designed to assess and validate the extent of damage before opening the bidding and contracting process for local service providers to begin repairs and renovations. Many of these Cooperatives are already up and running and the project’s anticipated completion date is September 2014.
On behalf of CUFA, we would like to express our gratitude and acknowledge the important work we were able to do as a result of your generous support.
You have been an integral part in rebuilding the lives in people devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.