By Zaldy De Layola

GOV’T AID. Personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development unloads family food packs (FFPs) for prepositioning at the DSWD Dumaguete warehouse in Negros Oriental on Wednesday (June 5, 2024). The FFPs will be used as augmentation to the affected population of the eruption of Mt. Kanlaon. (DSWD photo)

MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) field offices in Western and Central Visayas have provided PHP758,070 in humanitarian assistance to families displaced by the June 3 Mt. Kanlaon volcano eruption, an agency official said on Wednesday.

DSWD Assistant Secretary for Disaster Response Management Group (DRMG) Irene Dumlao said of this total amount, PHP611,980 was given to Negros Occidental and the rest, some PHP146,090, to Negros Oriental.

Dumlao said the assistance given to the affected residents include family food packs (FFPs) and non-food items such as family kits and sleeping kits.

In line with the DSWD’s mandate as the head of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, the agency is also assisting concerned local government units (LGUs) in monitoring the condition of the 426 families or 1,414 persons currently taking temporary shelter in 11 evacuation centers in the two provinces, she said.

Dumlao said due to the heightened vulnerability of children during disasters, particularly like the recent Mt. Kanlaon volcanic eruption, child-friendly and women-friendly spaces were set up by the DSWD and concerned localities to protect children, nursing mothers and pregnant evacuees, and to enhance their resilience against the negative effects of emergency situations on their well-being.

“These spaces offer activities such as psychosocial counseling, games, educational activities, art therapy sessions, and supplementary feeding, among others,” she added.

The establishment of child-and-women-friendly spaces during disasters is aligned with Republic Act 10821, known as the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act.

On Tuesday, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian assured the public that the agency has sufficient FFPs prepositioned in regions affected by the volcanic activity.

The DSWD has also deployed a Mobile Command Center to Negros Oriental to provide state-of-the-art satellite internet, large power banks and two sets of generators to help communities near the volcano.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed the DSWD to stay on top of the situation and ensure no family will be left behind.

Meanwhile, the DSWD Western Visayas field office conducted psychosocial activities among children and youth-evacuees of Mt. Kanlaon eruption.

“As directed by DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, we are prioritizing the well-being of the affected families, especially the internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside the evacuation centers,” Dumlao said.

The provision of psychosocial intervention was conducted by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) case managers and staff from the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) together with the La Castellana Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) at the evacuation center in La Castellana Elementary School.

“This is part of the social protection programs provided by the DSWD for the IDPs as the lead agency for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster and as the vice-chair for Disaster Response Cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC),” Dumlao said.

In a related development, the local government unit (LGU) of La Carlota City also provided complete facilities in the evacuation centers for Mt. Kanlaon evacuees as part of their CCCM.

“The LGU set up areas for children’s playgrounds; medical and toilet facilities for senior citizens, persons with disabilities and pregnant evacuees; and breastfeeding stations for nursing mothers,” she said. (PNA)