Save the Children aids El Niño-impacted farming families in Samar

The worsening drought and dry conditions in Western Samar are significantly affecting the education and welfare of children in farming households.

Save the Children Philippines is responding by offering conditional cash transfers and introducing climate-resilient livelihood options to aid approximately 200 farming families impacted by the El Niño phenomenon.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Report, more than 800,000 families in about 5,000 barangays across 14 regions are facing agricultural losses and water shortages. This crisis is impacting around 3.6 million Filipinos, including children, due to heatwaves, droughts, and dry conditions. The economic fallout from agricultural losses has reached P6 billion, with rice, the main crop, accounting for about P3 billion in damages.

Inadequate water for farming compromises soil health, making crops more susceptible to pests and diseases, which in turn drives up food consumption rates. Meanwhile, escalating prices of vital farming resources like electricity and packaging materials add to the challenges. Livestock face heightened risks of contagious diseases, potentially triggering outbreaks like African swine fever, possibly exacerbated by prolonged drought conditions.

The worries of farming families in Western Visayas are evident. Teresita Abides, a 46-year-old mother whose family depends heavily on rice farming, expressed her concerns: “Before, our two-hectare farm used to produce around 70 sacks of rice, but because of the impact of El Niño, we lost everything.” Teresita mentioned that her children had to halt their schooling to help their father cope with the difficulties on the farm caused by the drought. This circumstance has deprived the children of their educational and recreational opportunities.

In response to El Niño’s impact on children and families, Save the Children Philippines partnered with the Western Samar Development Foundation (WESADEF) Inc. to distribute an initial conditional cash grant instalment of P6,000 to 200 farming households in Western Samar.

The purpose of these grants is to assist families in establishing livelihoods that are resilient to climate change. Additionally, each household received five drought-resistant seeds for cultivation in their backyard gardens, ensuring a sustainable food supply capable of enduring dry seasons.

Families reliant on farming are facing mounting challenges due to the scorching heat, affecting their ability to support their children’s health, survival, and education,” stated Faisah Ali, Humanitarian Manager of Save the Children Philippines.

Apart from providing financial aid and seeds, the 200 farming families engaged in technical training sessions centered on animal husbandry, vegetable cultivation, and crop production. Ali emphasized, “We developed these sessions to encourage sustainable agricultural practices and improve livelihood opportunities for families.”

Teresita Abides expressed optimism that the cash assistance would alleviate financial concerns and pave the way for a better livelihood, despite El Niño’s challenges. “I appreciate the assistance because it helps us endure,” Abides shared. “We recently bought a pig, which we plan to raise and eventually sell.”

Through its Generation Hope Campaign, Save the Children Philippines actively advocates for climate adaptation measures to safeguard the well-being of children affected by climate crises.

Rex Abrigo, Environment and Climate Change Advisor at Save the Children Philippines emphasized that climate challenges disproportionately impact children, despite their minimal responsibility for causing climate change. Children endure the most severe consequences of these challenges. This disparity highlights the urgent need for proactive measures to protect vulnerable communities, especially children, from the effects of climate change.

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