Yolanda-hit dioceses mark Earth Day

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NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez and Diocese of Calbayog – Yolanda Rehabilitation Program Director Fr. Cezar Aculan together with the other dioceses affected by Typhoon Yolanda join in celebrating Earth Day in Cebu City. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)

CEBU City, April 23, 2016 – Concretizing their commitment to protecting the environment, nine dioceses devasted by super typhoon Yolanda joined in celebrating Earth Day yesterday, April 22.

Together with the Catholic Church’s social action arm, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, representatives from the provinces of Leyte, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Palawan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Aklan, and Cebu unveiled a symbolic “eco wall” with hand prints and commitments of the dioceses in caring for the earth.

“This is to signify our commitment to protect the Earth and the creation, especially we all know that the Philippines is at the doorstep of all major threats of climate change,” said NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez.

2nd highest disaster risk

“The super typhoon Yolanda that devastated the country in 2013 attests to this level of vulnerability,” the priest added.

According to a NASSA/Caritas Philippines press release, “the Philippines ranked second with the greatest risk to disaster worldwide in terms of climate change vulnerability based on the 2014 World Risk Report.”

Participants, which included representatives from the diocesan social action centers and relief and rehabilitation units of the dioceses in the said provinces, also attended a Holy Mass, as part of the program.

For the past three years, NASSA/Caritas Philippines together with the dioceses has been implementing various ecosystem rehabilitation services as part of the Yolanda rehabilitation program called #REACHPhilippines.

The #REACHPhilippines project comprises:

  • water shed, mangrove and reforestation projects;
  • formulation of environmental protection policies and resiliency plans;
  • installation and maintenance of material recovery facilities;
  • conduct of capacity building activities

1.8 million people served

The program also takes hygiene concerns into consideration, integrating interventions on shelter, livelihood, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with community-managed disaster risk reduction and community organizing as the overarching strategies.

So far, the overall Caritas response which includes NASSA/Caritas Philippines’ #REACHPhilippines program and the bilateral programs of the Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations (CI MOs) in the country has already reached 1.8 million people expending total funds amounting to Php3.508 billion, reads the NASSA/Caritas Philippines press release.

Apart from implementing the Catholic Church’s largest rehabilitation program for Yolanda survivors, NASSA/Caritas Philippines also organizes programs for climate justice and farmers’ rights.

Earlier, NASSA/Caritas Philippines expressed alarm over reports of the delayed release of government funds that would help ease the burden of farmers suffering from the ill effects of the El Niño phenomenon. (CBCPNews / NASSA / Caritas Philippines)

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