Redirecting efforts to build community protection: The Philippines
When news of the COVID-19 crisis escalated, our CBM Philippines office and local partner responded by preparing preventative measures to ensure the safety of one of the communities we work with in Southern Leyte. Since April, 226 hygiene and safety packs have been distributed amongst the community. Each of these packs were specifically tailored for people with disabilities including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), disinfectants and awareness raising materials. Due to quarantine restrictions, many families could not work or earn an income. Food packages with 3 kilograms of rice, canned goods, beans and milk were distributed to those most in need. During the project period, hygiene products and PPE were in low supply in the region and people with disability had difficulty accessing them on their own. The local government’s disaster preparedness committee were eager to include persons with disability in the wider community response due to the ongoing collaboration of the project and activities related to awareness raising on rights of persons with disabilities. Quarantine restrictions on movement continue to be a challenge in implementing at a larger scale but commitment by local government will ensure the project will be successful in reaching areas hardest hit by COVID-19 by June 2020.
In addition to the health and hygiene packs, the team has been trialling inclusive masks. As CBM communications coordinator Michi noted, “With the use of traditional masks, communication among people who are deaf have been difficult as they cannot read lips.” The success of these masks has meant that this innovation will be rolled out shortly. Michi writes that they are intending to work with local Disabled Peoples Organisations to produce these masks.
Overall the redirecting of efforts to ensure community health and well being during the COVID-19 have been well received. The team note, “We’re able to respond timely to persons with disability. They were very grateful to receive the face masks and disinfectants since that time there was a lack of supply of face masks in the region.”