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From August 4-5, SGI-Philippines participated in a workshop titled "Mobilizing Faith-Based Communities for Crisis Response." The workshop was co-organized by the Office of the United Nations and International Organizations of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Philippines and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the DFA auditorium in the City of Pasay, Metro Manila.
The workshop brought together representatives from government agencies, academic institutions and more than 10 faith groups from Muslim, Christian, Catholic and Buddhist communities. Among them were the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines from the Buddhist tradition, the United Religions Initiative, and the Health Organization for Mindanao.
The workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity for faith-based organizations (FBOs) to proactively respond to natural disasters and man-made crises and to provide a forum for dialogue on the role FBOs can play in the national mechanism for disaster response.
Over the two days, faith groups gave presentations on their relief activities and response to recent natural disasters in the Philippines including the 2011 Tropical Storm Washi (known locally as Sendong) and the 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). There was also a presentation on issues caused by a shortage of public health professionals in remote areas.
SGI-Philippines Women's Leader Dalisay Serrano reported on the organization's response to Super Typhoon Haiyan, while Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao Island noted that in the last three years typhoons have become common to the island and described their relief efforts following Tropical Storm Washi in 2011.
Participants also engaged in small group discussions on how to strengthen all aspects of crisis management. Points that were highlighted included the need for increased communication between FBOs and local government agencies, the importance of gaining accurate information on the needs of affected communities at times of crisis and the vital role of dialogue that encompasses all agencies at all stages of crisis management.
[Adapted from an article on the SGI-Philippines website and a report from SGI-Philippines; photos courtesy of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines]
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