Stories of building back better after Yolanda, told by ADB Consultants & Partners

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Victims Will Grab The First 'Actual' Offer

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That's a lesson to be remembered by humanitarian agencies, funding institutions (via loans, TAs or grants), and all who help calamity victims - whether it be during relief or recovery operations.

This happened to us at Grant 9175's Sub-component A.2. And no need to be ashamed about this thing by sweeping the little dirt under the rug. This is better laid out, if only to serve as guide, for those who will in the future attend to recovery projects after a calamity.

Here's our case at Cansumangkay Elementary School in Balangiga, Eastern Samar:

During the initial stages of the project, this school, badly hit by Yolanda, was identified as recipient of the grant. By agreed plan, Sub-component A.1, via DSWD, will re-build a three-classroom (3CL) building, while Sub-component A.2, via Plan International, will not only do emergency employment and livelihood interventions in the area, but was also to re-build another 3CL building plus construct a new 1CL building in the same school campus where 100% of its classrooms were affected by the super-typhoon. All agreed, approved after a series of consultations with all stakeholders involved (that includes regional and national offices of government agencies, fyi).

The deliverable under Sub-component A.1 is in progress. But, only last month, Plan International (Implementing Partner of Sub-component A.2) was surprised to receive an advise that the Department of Education (DepEd) was pushing through with the reconstruction of the 3CL earlier assigned to them!

After meetings, clarifications, communications, the seeming issue has been cleared and will see a (still) fruitful resolution. But let's dip our fingers (just a little bit) on what probably happened. Here goes:
- When DepEd asked what needed help, the Principal (of course) gave their numbers.
- These were validated by their Division and Regional Heads.
- They (probably) did not expect the help to come soon. Probably.
- When we asked how/where we can help, the Principal gave the same numbers.
- We, Grant 9175, and implementor Plan International prepared.
- They, DepEd, also waited for the government to approve the request and allocate budgets
- The School Principal, Division Head, Regional Head (and the KIDS, remember?) waited

And then... the national budget came, the go signal to repair the 3CL building with DepEd funds was cleared. Wouldn't/shouldn't they go ahead? What about our allocated funds and the effort we spent preparing to rebuild those classrooms? Well, let's just say we were slow!

Let's look at it this way... if I were hungry at 10AM, and you say you'd buy me a burger at 1030AM after your meeting, but our friend Cristina comes by at 1015AM to suddenly fulfill that free burger she (also) promised yesterday, I'll grab what Cristina offers! My 'economics of the moment' is I am hungry! I will grab the first 'tangible' donation!

Besides, we all know, it is never easy to reallocate funds budgeted via legislation by a government, right? So, the school better and rightfully accede to something already available, right? For the kids, remember?!

What happens to us and our dear project? Ah well, the DepEd is still there to help us realize, that there are other buildings (even in the very same school, town or district) that, just the same, badly need help. It wouldn't be much of an effort for us to refocus and re-channel our preparations to other nearby schools in need, would it? For the kids, remember?

Back to your burger... I did not say I won't anymore accept your offer. I'll probably plead you buy it for me at lunchtime or 3PM? That is if, IF you can't convert that burger into soda at 1030AM! Please?!

All is well then, right?

But, did you know there are other similar cases elsewhere?!
Don't fret, the DepEd will sit down with us and Plan International soonest!

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