Balsa Mindanao* (Bulig Alang sa Mindanao), or “Help Mindanao,” continues its relief delivery operations, medical missions, and emotional and technical support services for the survivors of Typhoon Pablo (Bopha).

Super-typhoon Pablo, a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 250kph (160mph), made landfall on December 4, 2012 in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, devastating an historically typhoon-free region.

As of January 8, Balsa Mindanao has served more than 25,000 Pablo survivor families (an estimated 125,000 individuals). Yet, much more needs to be done.

As of December 27, 2012, 6.2 million people were affected, with 1,067 dead and 834 missing. 973,207 individuals were displaced; nearly 14,000 of them living in evacuation centers. 216,817 houses were damaged, and more than 300 schools hit.** The economic damage is estimated at 36.9 billion pesos (US$905 million). Tens of thousands of hectares of forest cover were stripped bare.

Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental are two of the most important agricultural provinces of Mindanao. Strong winds combined with heavy rain caused landslides and flash floods that destroyed crops, fields, and plantations. It is estimated that more than one million people lost their source of livelihood.

Let’s help the people of Mindanao rebuild and rehabilitate their rural communities!

BALSA’s 6-fold response structure:

1. Relief and Rehabilitation Missions:
Response according to the determined needs of the poorest and least served communities. Balsa Mindanao distributes food assistance and provides medical services to disaster affected communities.

2. Volunteers for Rebuilding Communities:
Deployment of volunteers who conduct community rebuilding through organizing, education, cultural, health work and other forms of integrated accompaniment and solidarity.

3. Community debriefing, grief counseling and psychosocial activities:
Psychosocial therapy activities, grief counseling and debriefing are real and concrete needs that BALSA is committed to addressing– allowing victims to retell their stories as a method of healing.

4. Restoring People’s Livelihood and the Environment:
Promote restoration of livelihoods through community gardens and farms, livestock dispersal and other efforts geared towards sustainable food production in post-disaster situations. In collaboration with scientific experts, BALSA mobilizes indigenous and farming communities to reforest and rehabilitate watersheds and other denuded areas.

5. Free Legal Clinics:
Mobilization of pro-bono services from lawyers and paralegals to assist individuals and their communities with their legal needs (lost documents) in addition to promoting and securing their rights in a post-disaster situation.

6. Advocacy for Climate Justice:
Balsa Mindanao engages in research and education about the root causes of disasters, and advocates for decisive steps to be taken to prevent future disasters. Disaster preparedness education and training for local communities is an integral part of our disaster response.

*InPeace Mindanao is an official institution receiving donations on behalf of Balsa Mindanao
**Source : United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):Typhoon Bopha Situation Report No. 11 (as of 27 December 2012)