Savings group builds climate resilience for ultra-poor families

Savings Group supportClimate resilience for poor Filipinos: The ultra-poor are often the most vulnerable to extreme weather and climate change. Many live in poor-quality housing with scrap walls and roofs. These homes are the most likely to be damaged by typhoons, heavy rain or strong winds. And with little choice about where they live, many of the ultra-poor are born into locations susceptible to flooding, erosion and landslides.

World and industry leaders are working to minimise the climate crisis. However, International Care Ministries (ICM) seeks to provide relief and build resiliency for those who are already suffering the effects of extreme weather events. The Philippines is one of the most highly vulnerable countries to natural disasters. It is located in the most active tropical cyclone area in the world. What’s more, the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal says Filipinos will face more and more disasters in the coming years, as “the multiple natural hazards facing the Philippines are projected to intensify under climate change.”

ICM: A Scalable Reach

ICM is not primarily a charity that provides disaster relief. But its uniquely scalable network, working through thousands of indigenous local churches, provides a fast, efficient way to verify needs and distribute goods when disasters occur. During recent Typhoons Odette and Yolanda (known internationally as Rai and Haiyan), this network proved incredibly nimble and was able to meets needs rapidly, before many larger aid agencies were able to respond.

However, ICM believes that building preparedness and resiliency in vulnerable communities is key to empowering the ultra-poor to pick themselves up after natural disasters. Our Transform program and Savings Groups aim to do just this.

Rebuilding after Typhoon Odette

The community of General Luna on the island of Siargao was devastated in 2022 when Typhoon Odette struck. Then, many residents received cash and/or goods from local and international NGOs as well as the Philippine government. But once families used up this relief, they were no better prepared to withstand the next disaster.

ICM brought its Transform program to General Luna in August 2023. For four months, families learned weekly health and livelihood lessons. In addition, many also launched their own small businesses. Every family also committed to saving P50, almost US$1, every week.

After their graduation in November 2023, the General Luna Savings Group continues to be a support network and source of resilience for families. Their collective savings have grown to US$1,100. Together, the ladies have launched a group business, selling cleaning products to neighbours and businesses in their community. Their business earns up to US$100 per week!

And the families use their savings to fund a wide array of life goals and daily needs. Denila bought new roof materials for her home which had been damaged in the typhoon. Purita paid the bill she owed on her family’s lot, and for school supplies for her children. Mary Ann invested in her niece’s business.

Emilou, mother of four, used her savings to pay her electricity bill on her newly expanded laundry business, and is now saving for an electric dryer to be able to take on more customers. “We love having our own business already. It really helped our lives. And any time any of us have an emergency, we know we have our savings.”

Savings Groups Improve Climate Resilience

Savings Groups like this are proven to increase climate resilience for poor communities. One study found households who were part of Savings Groups were 12% more likely to have received after floods than their neighbours. Researchers have found that the social element may be just as important as the economic security, with women able to rely on stronger social support networks in times of need.

ICM has 4,510 active savings groups as of March 2024! These groups involve 160,000 people saving and meeting regularly together. Now, their assets have grown to more than US$2.5M! These communities now have greater resources with which to rebuild if they are hit by future disasters.

You can support ESG goals and help build climate resilience among the ultra-poor. Please bring Transform to the next community, and donate here.

Savings group rebuilds after typhoon Odette

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