Dana Asia has been working with partners in the Philippines and Cambodia to implement a three-phase relief action plan to create sustainable solutions to food insecurity within impoverished communities struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase 1 is complete in Cambodia and underway in Manila to bring urgent food supplies to those most in need. Phases 2 and 3 bring livelihood skills training to develop capabilities of communities to become self-sustaining through home-based gardening initiatives and social investment into essential-service micro-business activity.

Recent surges in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines and Cambodia have compounded the struggles of people living in extreme poverty. Dana Asia has launched an immediate action plan to provide urgent emergency support to the most destitute families in the slums of Manila and the marginalised rural villages of Siem Reap province, Cambodia.

With one of the longest and hardest lockdowns in the world, the Philippines is facing a crippling recession which has plummeted more than six million people back into abject poverty. Lockdowns have disrupted food supply chains, making important food items such as vegetables inaccessible or unaffordable. In Cambodia, the loss of tourism has meant thousands have been without work for more than a year. Poverty is increasing and thousands can no longer afford basic goods. Many families have been forced to sell their land or assets to afford to buy food. People with bank loans have been unable to pay, with mounting debts plunging them further into poverty.

In the Philippines, Dana Asia has partnered with Rotary Club of Manila and Grameen Pilipinas Microfinance Inc to action a three-phase plan to bring long-lasting support to some of Manila’s most impoverished communities.  The Rotary Club will provide mentoring and support throughout the project, volunteering time and skills to provide an essential support network for small business owners, while Grameen Pilipinas will facilitate the microfinance needed to get small businesses up and running.

The first phase of the action plan, implemented over July and August, delivered urgent food supplies to families identified as being most in need. Preparations are under for Phase 2 now which will bring livelihood skills training to some of these families. Through experienced local training partners, we will teach basic sustainable agriculture skills and support individuals to start their own home-based vegetable gardens. These gardens are intended primarily to feed the family to improve food security at a family level. The final phase focuses on building sustainability. In the Philippines, successful home gardens set up in Phase 2 will have the opportunity to level-up through capital investment, mentoring and facilities upgrades. In Cambodia, Dana Asia will support the training and mentoring of farmers, initiate ecologically-friendly fertiliser production and find solutions for water supply issues for healthy, productive vegetable growing.

Community assessments have been conducted in communities in Cambodia and Philippines to select the most in-need families to be part of this project. In the Philippines, final preparations are underway before Phase 1 gets underay.

In Cambodia, 173 of the most in-need families in three communities have already received food aid are part of Phase 1. For Phase 2, we are partnering with local NGO Trailblazer Foundation, which offers livelihood skills training in sustainable farming and home-based vegetable growing. Preparations are now being made for the training program, set to start in the next few weeks.

We will share updates on Phase 2 and 3 in the Philippines and Cambodia as they come.