In pictures: Community-led response in the Philippines

In November 2013 Tabgas village in Leyte was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded. ActionAid is working with a local NGO, Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI), to support the community.

ActionAid is committed to making sure our responses are as accountable as possible, but what does that look like in practice?

The photos below show the process used by our partner for the distribution of shelter repair kits. It demonstrates some of the key accountability principles including: sharing information, community participation, and complaints mechanisms.

Identifying the people most in need

A needs assessment is conducted, using participatory tools, to identify the priorities of the community and understand who the most vulnerable groups are. Womens participation in these meetings is prioritised.

BMFI work with the local barangay* council to identify families whose houses have been destroyed and prioritise the most vulnerable.

[*A barangay is the smallest government administrative unit in the Philippines.]

Explaining what, when and why

Transparency boards are displayed in public places explaining the support that BMFI will provide, when the distributions will happen, the selection criteria for families receiving assistance and the budget for each activity.

Using local resources

Instead of purchasing timber from outside suppliers, the community organise to cut coconut trees that fell during the typhoon. BMFI support provides chainsaws and pays labour costs. This way the wood is cheaper, resulting in savings on the shelter kit budget.

Voting on solutions

The coconut lumber is combined with materials purchased from suppliers to produce shelter repair kits, based on the materials selected by communities.

Due to high demand, suppliers are unable to provide marine plywood as planned, and say there will be a 6 week wait. BMFI hold a community meeting to explain the situation and ask for peoples views. The community elect to replace the plywood with additional coconut wood, which can be cut into strips to make durable walling.

Communities leading the distributions

With support from BMFI and the barangay council, community volunteers organise the first distribution covering half the recipients. The volunteers, mostly women, check distribution vouchers against the recipient list and collect signatures.

The transparency board displayed at the distribution site list the items included in each shelter kit so that people can check they have received the correct items.

Considering different needs

An express lane is created at the distribution site to allow senior citizens and people with disabilities to collect their shelter kits first.

Providing transport

Families transport their shelter kits home using tricycles and motorbikes.


Families use the materials to repair houses damaged by the typhoon.

Identifying issues

In post-distribution monitoring, two problems are identified. First, a small number of people like 65 year old Erlinda Lumacad (left), received basic shelter kits earlier from another NGO so were not included on the recipient list by BMFI. However, the kits did not contain timber and plywood, so they have been unable to fully repair their houses.

Identifying issues

Second, the team notices that some people, like Elma Tumambo (left), have not yet used the shelter repair kits they received from BMFI and are still living in makeshift shelters. Discussions with these families reveal that they are women living alone with children or elderly relatives, and have no male relatives who can do the heavy construction work.

Addressing issues

BMFI consults with the community who agree that the savings from the shelter budget should be used to provide the missing materials for the people covered under the previous distribution by the other NGO. These families are added to the recipient list for the second distribution date.

Supporting women

They also decide to allocate money to pay to hire carpenters to assist the female headed households and other vulnerable families to build their houses. Community volunteers are also identified to help with the unskilled construction work.

Any complaints/feedback?

Feedback is received through the SMS complaints line, and publicised on the transparency board. They say that one batch of coconut lumber was not sufficiently dried and as a result is not good quality. BMFI arranges for replacement timber to be provided to the families affected.