BALTIMORE—Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is providing cash assistance to fund food purchases by families displaced by fighting between the Philippines army and militants in the southern city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao.
The armed conflict, which has been raging since late May, has left more than 500 dead and forced most of the residents of Marawi from their homes, with the exception of those who have been trapped by the fighting.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, LWR is working with a local partner organization to provide cash transfers for food to displaced families who have taken refuge either with host families or in evacuation centers in nearby Iligan City. The assistance is expected to reach more than 2,000 families.
LWR is also providing water purification units for use in evacuation centers where the water is contaminated and unsafe to drink. The filtration units can also be used by a cluster of homes in areas that are housing evacuees.
Once the fighting ends and families have returned home, LWR plans to support livelihood recovery and repair of homes damaged in the conflict. Cash assistance will be provided to farmers so they can buy seeds and fertilizers for planting new crops, to small-scale vendors so they can re-establish their businesses, and to laborers to support them as they look for work.
Providing cash in a humanitarian emergency is an effective means of assistance because it can be distributed quickly and allows people to purchase the goods and services they need through local markets, sustaining the economy.
LWR has been working in the Philippines since the 1960s, with programs in Mindanao focusing on agriculture and food security, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, peacebuilding, and emergency response. In 2015, LWR responded to the needs of 2,600 families displaced by conflict in Mamasapano municipality, providing food, water and hygiene kits, as well as helping displaced people return to their homes and resume their farm-based livelihoods.
LWR has responded to several major emergencies in the Philippines, including Tropical Storm Washi in 2011, Typhoon Bopha in 2012, and Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.