Cash transfers assist women affected by the Cotabato earthquakes
Sixty-three year old Sally proudly describes her 28-year-old daughter Susan as a superwoman. This was never more so than when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake rocked her B’laan indigenous community in North Cotabato province last October.
“I am thankful for her. For everything that she did and does for us,” says mother of five Sally, who is in poor health after suffering from a stroke that left her paralysed in September 2018.
As well as taking care of her two children and husband, Susan supports her youngest siblings through college and looks after her mother. “It is not easy,” Susan says.
Susan and her husband are farmers, growing bananas and corn. Alongside this, Susan manages a small store that sells various goods, depending on what is locally available.
When a series of earthquakes occurred on 16 October 2019, Susan was not at home. She quickly made her way back to her upland community which is only accessible along a rough track.
“A landslide almost caught us. When I got home, our belongings had been destroyed. My youngest child was crying so hard when I picked him up from my sisters.” Susan says.
When she went to check on her mother Sally, she found her traumatised and staring blankly into space. Concerned for her mothers welfare and with her income gone, Susan resorted to borrowing money to cover the cost of Sally’s daily medication and monthly checkups.
“There were times when she wasn’t sleeping for a month. This throws her mood and appetite off. It gets worse because it affects her veins and blood condition, according to the doctor,” Susan explains.
Aside from her daily medication for insomnia, Sally also has to take medicine for high-blood pressure and diabetes.
To support women like Susan and Sally following the earthquake, Plan International launched a cash transfer programme. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the project provides direct payments to people in critical need of assistance.
Cash transfers allow people to spend the money on what they need most, rather than having other people decide. This is particularly important to help empower women who might not otherwise have access to money or be able to make spending decisions.
Susan and Sally are among 279 people who will benefit from a cash transfer. “The money given to us is a huge help. It cannot cover everything, but after the distribution, we will immediately head to the pharmacy. I hope you will continue to help other people in my community who are also in need.”