“When the conflict started, I was at home with my parents. My old father is very sick and can barely walk. When we had a chance to flee, we took nothing but ourselves. I felt helpless as I pushed my father’s wheelchair while also assisting my mother to walk.”
Beyo, 25, is one of the thousands of internally displaced people forced to flee to Iligan due to the conflict between the Philippine government forces and the ISIS-inspired group called Maute in Marawi City that started in May 2017.
90% of Marawi’s population are Maranaos, a Muslim indigenous tribe. Like Beyo, many residents of Marawi had to leave their homes, businesses and most of their belongings with the hope that the conflict will end and they’ll be back in a few days or maybe just weeks. But months after thousands remain displaced, living in evacuation centres or “home-based” with their relatives in surrounding areas.
In Iligan, Beyo found herself participating in community consultations alongside other survivors. These consultations are organised by Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits Inc. (Ecoweb), a national non-government organization based in Iligan City. They work on development projects promoting a rights-based approach. During these consultations, self-help groups are formed within communities where survivors are empowered to participate and be involved in the decision making on how they can be supported for their fast and effective recovery and rehabilitation.
“I’m glad to be part of this approach as it goes with our culture of maintaining dignity and bayanihan, communal unity and cooperation.” Beyo shared.
In one of the community consultation, we met 52-year-old Abdullah, a community leader. He represents the seven families staying at his relatives’ place in Iligan:
“We rely on relief goods provided by government and NGOs to be able to eat.Through Ecoweb’s support, we are able to reach out to authorities to voice out our needs. We were also able to qualify culturally appropriate livelihood options for us.”
Survivor community-led response (SCLR) treats the disaster affected peoples as survivors with rights to uphold as opposed to seeing them as victims. SCLR empowers people and strengthens local capacity for their survival with dignity and for effective recovery and rehabilitation.
This response includes unconditional cash assistance which they use to purchase their identified priorities like food and medicine. Alternative livelihood projects are also supported where independently formed self-help groups submit business plans for their chosen livelihood proposals.
The Humanitarian Leadership Academy Philippines together with other International NGOs are supporting Ecoweb in SCLR.