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Aid groups unite to plug disaster response gaps

MANILA (UCAN): Caritas Philippines has joined forces with networks of non-government groups to address “financial gaps” in responding to disasters. Counted among the alliance aside from Caritas are the Caucus of Development non-government organsations (CODE-NGO) and the Humanitarian Response Consortium, the country’s biggest networks of NGOs.
Father Edwin Gariguez, the executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said the aim of the alliance is “to strengthen and expand” the networks and resources of the various groups.
The group also launched an app on May 15 called SAFER, or Shared Aid Fund For Emergency Response, which Father Gariguez explained that it would ensure that funds reach those most in need “in the fastest possible time” by tracking how contributions are spent and ensuring that “timely, appropriate, and adequate assistance” is provided to affected communities.
“We will be able to fast-track relief work by providing the necessary funds to mobilise resources straight to affected communities,” he explained.
Roselle Rasay of CODE-NGO, said SAFER will enhance a “spirit of togetherness” among humanitarian aid providers.
Father Gariguez said an entity that will manage the gathering and distribution of resources for emergency responses will ensure “accountability and ethics.”
He added, “As humanitarian and development workers, integrity should be the essence and at the core of our work.” 
Philippine humanitarian aid agencies began conceptualising the mechanism in 2015 “to promote local collaboration and coordination.”
Melinda Gabuya, programme manager of SAFER explained, “We want to develop a culture in which Filipinos can help their fellow Filipinos recover from disaster even without aid from other countries” and that this can only be possible with the promotion of local responses to natural and man-made disasters.
Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres, chairperson of Caritas Philippines, said SAFER will help in the promotion of localisation in disaster response.
“It is very essential to create avenues that will encourage Filipinos to take part in rebuilding lives and communities,” said the archbishop.
He said local humanitarian aid providers have already proven their capacity to respond to disasters using funds from local groups and institutions.
“With the creation of SAFER and the collective effort of different organisations that are dedicated in rebuilding communities, Filipinos can stand on their own feet,” Archbishop Tirona said.

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