THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the Philippine emergency cash transfer program, first tested during 2013’s Typhoon Yolanda, has become a “core disaster response mechanism” with an outsized impact on vulnerable families.
“In times of such disasters, the challenge of recovery is immense. Many families have limited savings to draw from to rebuild their lives. Fast access to cash can be the lifeline that prevents them from facing long-term impacts on their incomes and sliding deeper into poverty.”
“Recognizing this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) established the Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT) program,” the bank said in a blog.
“The ECT program is now a fundamental part of the Philippines’ response system, delivering immediate support to disaster-stricken communities and allowing them to recover faster and thrive, despite adversity,” it added.
In 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) affected 14.1 million Filipinos and displaced 4.1 million people.
The DSWD at the time implemented an interim ECT program for those affected by the typhoon.
“This practice, tested under extreme conditions, proved its worth, and the Philippine government institutionalized ECT as a core disaster response mechanism. A clear policy framework and implementation guidelines were developed, allowing the program to support not only the country’s poorest but also other vulnerable families affected by disasters,” it added.
The ADB called the ECT program the government’s “first line of defense.”
“Families receive cash transfers immediately after a disaster, supplementing the food and non-food items provided by national and local governments, and other partners,” it added.
Last year, a pilot ECT program was implemented in San Juan, La Union, benefitting 3,763 families. To date, it has aided 61,455 beneficiaries in the wake of typhoons, earthquakes, or oil spills.
“Going forward, the DSWD aims to integrate ECT into its overall disaster response and social protection plans. The World Bank, through the Beneficiary FIRST Social Protection Project, continues to support DSWD’s initiatives, helping ensure faster disbursement of cash transfers through electronic payment options, and using the Philippine National ID for quicker and accurate beneficiary verification,” the ADB said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson