February 7, 2024 | Philippines | Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Relentless landslides and flooding have wreaked havoc in the Philippines’ Region XI and XIII (Caraga), as an unrelenting monsoon combined with a low-pressure system in Mindanao continues to disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands in vulnerable communities.
As per reports from local government units, the calamity has ravaged extensive agricultural land and caused significant damage to crucial infrastructure, leading to the displacement of civilians residing in the affected areas.
In response to the region’s severe damage, the province of Davao has declared a state of emergency. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) of the Philippines has reported significant devastation, including 36 damaged houses, with 11 of them partially destroyed and 25 completely wrecked. The disaster has resulted in five fatalities and seven reported injuries in Region XI. Additionally, some areas in the Davao region are still grappling with ongoing flash floods, while several roads remain impassable and certain bridges have collapsed.A total of 27,841 families, comprising 103,757 individuals, have been adversely affected across 171 barangays (towns) in Regions XI and XIII. Out of these, 14,548 families, or 54,073 individuals, have been displaced. Of the displaced population, 7,101 families (26,442 individuals) have found temporary refuge in 137 evacuation centers, while 7,447 families (27,631 individuals) are currently staying with relatives or friends.
In partnership with the Northern Davao Mission of the Adventist Church and Adventist Community Services, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in the Philippines conducted a rapid needs assessment and initiated an initial response to aid 950 families in selected barangays within the provinces of Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental. These beneficiaries had been severely affected by flooding and landslides that resulted in partial or total destruction of their homes. This response was made possible through ADRA’s scaled-up National Emergency Management Program (NEMP) implementation, in collaboration with its local partner mission.
“Twenty-nine municipalities spread across three provinces in the Northern Davao territory have suffered damage as a result of the recent natural disaster,” Northern Davao Mission president Seth Suan said. “The catastrophe brought about by flooding, landslides, collapsed bridges, and extensive damage to farmers’ crops has resulted in financial losses amounting to millions of dollars. The relentless heavy rainfall over several days caused water levels to rise to alarming heights, leading to the closure of crucial national highways.” Suan emphasized the pressing urgency of providing food as the immediate need of the affected population.
“Adventist communities, despite being affected themselves, have come together to raise funds,” Suan added. “The Northern Davao crisis committee leadership, along with field pastors, have worked tirelessly to allocate resources to the severely impacted areas. However, it’s important to note that the current assistance, while valuable, falls short of meeting the pressing needs of those in distress. We are eagerly awaiting the support of ADRA Philippines to bolster our relief efforts.”
ADRA Philippines has been in communication with ADRA International to explore the possibility of mobilizing funds for recovery efforts or network responses. Additionally, efforts are being made to engage the Northern Davao Mission and the Southeastern Philippine Union Mission to contribute additional funds to support the network response.
The Northern Davao region is home to a vibrant Adventist community, boasting more than 70,000 members who gather in more than 200 churches. In light of the recent natural calamity, Adventist Church leaders in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, which includes the Philippines, invited church members to join them in offering prayers for the families impacted by this disaster.
“In times of adversity, we find solace in the unwavering belief that God stands beside us, empowering us to conquer the fiercest storms,” division president Roger Caderma said. “As a united church, we come together in fervent prayer.”