The social action network of the Catholic Church in the Philippines has implemented a localized distribution of aid in communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The network, which has already activated at least 35 dioceses in the country, aims to encourage communities to become first responders in the fight against the spread of the disease.
A total of US$2.3 million worth of food and non-food relief items have already been distributed by Caritas network to at least 210,000 families across the country as of April 3.
In the Archdiocese of Manila, another US$19.8 million worth of gift certificates were distributed to about four million residents in ten dioceses in the capital and nearby provinces.
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said the assistance entirely came from local donors.
“This only shows that our fellow Filipinos and our own community can provide for those who are in great need in times of crisis without asking for aid from foreign agencies,” he said.
He said that as of the present “local funds are still sufficient but we are seeking the support of other Caritas organizations in other countries to supplement our operation.”
“We will have to assess if we can sustain the humanitarian response if the crisis prolongs,” Father Gariguez added.
He said the Church is promoting the “localization of aid” to allow communities “to support its own” and allow the “progression of people-centered disaster risk reduction and management programs.”
“We are doing this in coordination with the national and local government agencies and other humanitarian aid providers in different parts of the country,” said the priest.
A network if 30 faith-based organizations calling themselves FBO.PH supported the localization of humanitarian response to pave the way for a partnership among church-based groups.
On April 7, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted the role of different humanitarian actors, including the Church, in addressing the pandemic.
The organization called on groups to disseminate valid information and share official advice “to combat the spread of false and misleading information and rumors.”
As of April 8, the Philippines has 3,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 182 deaths and 96 people recovered from the disease.