In 2015 the Tamac village, Municipality Villaviciosa, Abra province in Philippines, nestled next to a mountainside in a remote valley of Northwestern Luzon Island was devastated by mudslides caused by Typhoon Ineng (international name "Goni"). Six days later the mudslide buried newly planted rice fields and washed out the main irrigation system that fed Tamac's fields and surrounding farm lots.
The landside isolated the community of 134 households for several days and forced them to evacuate their homes. Roughly 123.5 acres of land – residential and agricultural – eroded and, while most houses were partially damaged, two houses were completely destroyed. Thankfully there were no human casualties.
Disaster response teams from government and nongovernmental organizations found it hard to deliver relief and other assistance to the upland area. Municipal authorities and geologists from the government Mines and Geosciences Bureau deemed the location too dangerous and unstable to inhabit. They recommended moving Tamac to a location a little over one kilometer away.
A small village in the Philippines like Tamac is called a "barangay." "Bayan" in the Philippines means a community or nation. An ancient form of community dialogue and cooperation, known as "Bayanihan," is still practiced in Tamac. They call such cooperation "Kumon," and it has helped in their recovery.
Just as they were recovering from Typhoon Ineng, they received another blow in 2016, when Typhoon Lawin struck. Many relocated villagers were still sheltered in tents. Trees were uprooted, tent houses were blown away and two new wooden houses were toppled.
Early in 2019, the Baguio Episcopal Area Disaster Management Office, a UMC-UMCOR partnership office for disaster management, received an UMCOR grant to work to conduct Community-based Contingency Planning with Tamac community leaders, health workers and Tamac residents. According to Katie Hills Uzoka, program manager for UMCOR International Disaster Response, "Community-based Contingency Planning is an approach that allows community members to guide disaster mitigation and management activities, rather than waiting for decisions to be made at higher jurisdictional levels."
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"More than three years have passed since I first visited," said Myra Yesan, the Baguio DMO's assistant disaster response coordinator. "Our Ilocos North District Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Team (a district-level group of UMC volunteers for disaster management) initiated the communication and coordination, and the community leader gave us permission to proceed."
Building on the Kumon tradition of this barangay, the community identified and analyzed risks, hazards, vulnerabilities and capacity related to disaster preparedness and response in a participatory session guided by the UMC Disaster Management Office. The community identified the lack of sufficient water as a vulnerability and proposed it as a potential mitigation project for the future. The Disaster Management Office identified this as a priority to serve the needs of a community affected by disaster in multiple ways.
excerpt from a story by Christie R. House, senior writer and editor, Global Ministries.
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