NGO-led crowdfunding app seeks to aid in disaster response

MANILA, Philippines – How far can bayanihan go in terms of disaster response?

Every year, an average of 20 typhoons hit the country, some causing extensive destruction. In late 2013, after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) pummeled Eastern Visayas, Time Magazine named the Philippines as "the most storm-exposed country on earth." Yolanda killeds thousands of people and affected over 1.4 million families.

In 2015, Typhoon Lando (Koppu) caused more than P6 billion worth of damage, affecting more than 300,000 residents across 7 regions in Luzon

In February this year,  Mount Mayon's eruption caused 185 million in agricultural losses and which affected 9,791 farmers in Albay. 

SAFER. The SAFER governance committee during the press launch on May 16, 2018.

Photo by Keb Cuevas/Rappler

With these numbers in mind, 3 of the largest networks of non-governmental organizations – Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE-NGO), Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC), and NASSA/Caritas Philippines – joined forces to address financial gaps in disaster response through an app called Shared Aid Fund For Emergency Response (SAFER).

"Sinong tutulong [sa Pilipino] kung hindi kapwa Pilipino (Who will help Filipinos other than their fellow Filipinos)?" said Lanie Samonte, Humanitarian Lead of NASSA/Caritas Philippines during the app launch at PETA Theater on Tuesday, May 15.

SAFER: The modern 'bayanihan'

BAYANIHAN. Benedict Balderrama presents the SAFER mechanism during the press launch at PETA Theater.

Photo from Keb Cuevas/Rappler

Hosted through the platform GavaGives, SAFER provides quick financial disbursement to NGOs in the SAFER network for disaster response and relief operations.

"Our agenda is to strengthen and expand our networks [and resources] rather than compete," SAFER chair Father Edwin Gariguez said during the launch.

SAFER mobilizes its member networks, media organizations, institutional and corporate partners to raise funds for disaster-stricken communities as one, effectively eliminating competition for fund grants among NGOs.

Public participation is also ignited through the crowdfunding mechanism.

When disaster strikes, funds would be channeled to SAFER-accredited NGOs with presence in 87 cities and municipalities in the country, enabling them to respond to the disasters and emergencies quickly.

The fund utilization is then monitored through SAFER's online dashboard.

Christian Aid Philippines Convenor  Allan Vera said. "The Filipino identity will be felt by affected communities."

He added that SAFER's "defining" characteristics are "downward accountability, humanitarian action, and collaboration... imbued by time-tested Filipino values." – Rappler.com