A women displaced from Marawi signs to acknowledge receipt of the check for cash assistance.

LWR Provides Cash Aid to Families Fleeing Violence in the Philippines

Cash is often that fastest and most efficient way to help people in emergencies

Since late May, armed forces of the government of the Philippines have been battling Maute militant fighters in the city of Marawi on Mindanao island. The violence, in which more than 500 have died, has caused at least 230,000 people to flee to nearby cities, where they have taken refuge in evacuation centers or in the homes of friends and relatives.

A staff member of LWR’s local partner in Iligan City assists with the cash distribution.

The sudden spike in population has strained the resources of local aid organizations. Lutheran World Relief has stepped in with the CARE Marawi project to offer emergency assistance to meet immediate needs, such as food and clean water in Iligan City, located just to the north of Marawi.

In recent weeks, LWR has worked with a local partner agency to disburse checks to families in need that they can cash at a nearby bank. They can then use the cash to buy whatever they decide best meets their needs, whether it’s food, bottled water, medicine, hygiene supplies or other personal items.

Providing cash in a humanitarian emergency is an effective means of assistance because it can be distributed quickly and allows people to purchase the goods and services they need through local markets, sustaining the economy. Local markets in Iligan City are operating normally, despite the regional unrest.

A family who has taken refuge in Iligan City.

Once fighting ends and people are able to begin returning to their homes, LWR will provide assistance to repair damage to dwellings, as well as help to get people back to work.

Distribution of checks to displaced families.

LWR has been working in the Philippines since the 1960s, with programs in Mindanao focusing on agriculture and food security, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, peacebuilding, and emergency response. In 2015, LWR responded to the needs of 2,600 families displaced by conflict in Mamasapano municipality, providing food, water and hygiene kits, as well as helping displaced people return to their homes and resume their farm-based livelihoods.

LWR has responded to several major emergencies in the Philippines, including Tropical Storm Washi in 2011, Typhoon Bopha in 2012, and Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.