In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines claimed thousands of lives and destroyed billions of dollars worth of property. For many cooperatives in the province of Leyte where the typhoon hit, resuming operations was almost impossible as there were no contingency plan in place. Find out how our partnership with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) has helped cooperatives prepare for future disasters.

The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) is the main regulatory body for cooperatives in the Philippines. In the face of disasters caused by natural and human-induced hazards that occurred in the country, like Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and the Marawi Siege in 2017, the CDA recognized the need for cooperatives to plan for continuity of their operations against the risks they face. There are about 26,000 registered cooperatives in the country with aggregate membership of at least 13 million.

In 2016, the CDA entered into an agreement with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy Philippines Centre (now the Center for Humanitarian Learning and Innovation) to develop and pilot a training of trainers module on Business Continuity Management (BCM) for cooperatives. The module was first delivered to select employees of CDA to ensure their capacity to roll out the training to member cooperatives nationwide.

After the pilot run, the module was further improved and used to train more than 100 employees from the central and regional extension offices of CDA. The participants were trained in planning, creating and executing business continuity plans for their own units as well as how to facilitate and deliver business continuity planning training to cooperatives under their respective areas of assignments. A blended approach of online and face-to-face learning was used to conduct the trainings.

To further strengthen the internal capacity of CDA on BCM, a number of cooperative development specialists from the central office and the regional extension offices were provided with more advanced, deepening sessions through a customized master class course. The participants to this course are expected to form the core of BCM experts from within CDA that can continue to train other CDA staff and support cooperative development specialists in the field as they continue to roll-out BCM training to cooperatives.

Melissa Santos

Melissa Santos, Division Chief of the Cooperative Research, Information and Training Division (CRITD) of CDA said:

“It was our first time to take a blended curriculum where we were required to learn part of the course online. It made the face-to-face training lighter and easier to understand. Among all of our collaborations, I believe this can be most effective for our end-users (cooperatives).”

Cooperative Development Specialist Emme Grace Alverne, one of the participants who undertook the master class for BCM, added:

Emme Grace Alverne

“The experience made us realize the importance of introducing the course to cooperatives given the high-risk level of Philippines to disasters. Cooperatives must learn to prepare and know what to do when a disaster strikes.”

The training also heightened the awareness of CDA with regard to institutionalizing BCM in its own organization. In its annual building assessment, the CDA central office found that the building can withstand up to 7.0-magnitude earthquake but with many needed repairs and maintenance. Ensuring the resilience of the building is imperative in light of the anticipated “Big One”, a movement from a major West Valley Fault that runs 6 kilometers in Metro Manila and which can ramp up a magnitude of up to 8.5.

However, a major challenge in institutionalizing BCM for government institutions like CDA is the budget. Since budget allocation is dependent on the legislative bodies of government, institutions are constricted in their ways to carry out BCM internally and to their stakeholders, such as cooperatives in the case of CDA. The partnership with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy was a good initiative to increase the capacity of CDA in cascading information to cooperatives that are at risk of multiple hazards that threaten their survival and sustainability.

The Way Forward

Benjie Oliva

In its revised charter pending approval from the Office of the President, the CDA included a provision where the agency shall ensure that all cooperatives in the Philippines have business continuity management plans. According to CDA Administrator Benjie Oliva:

“In the case of Marawi [conflict] where it was declared Ground Zero, many cooperatives did not have back-up documents and information of their  members. The result was chaos and disorder, especially in light of rehabilitation efforts. The lesson learned by CDA is to collect annual membership information from cooperatives—something that would have been identified early on in the presence of a clear BCM plan.”

With the conclusion of the BCM training, Benjie identified partnership opportunities with the Center for Humanitarian Learning and Innovation (CHLI), the affiliate center of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy in the Philippines through CODE-NGO.

The BCM can be part of the mandatory training of cooperatives and funding can be requested from other government bodies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Moreover, a new law in the Philippines allows local government units to utilize up to 70% of its budget for disaster risk reduction and management activities. Technical expertise is also needed by CDA in the development of BCM advocacy materials that can be circulated among its member cooperatives.

“We appreciate the partnership with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy as it opened our eyes to the importance of preparedness for cooperatives which are technically running an enterprise.  The BCM training highlighted the difficulty of rehabilitating a cooperative with no records or information—such as the case of Typhoon Haiyan. Having a BCM plan also builds the integrity of cooperatives among their constituents, in a way that ensures them that their investment is safe no matter what kind of emergency happens.”

Benjie emphasized that cooperatives should be able to continue providing services that improve the welfare of their members even in times of disasters and emergencies. And while the road to institutionalizing BCM in all Philippine cooperatives and in the CDA is still long, it is full of exciting opportunities for learning and innovation. More importantly, this journey has begun and the way forward made clear.

This article was written by Melinda Gabuya, from the Center for Humanitarian Learning & Innovation (CHLI), a joint initiative between the Humanitarian Leadership Academy and CODE-NGO. For more information, email:

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