TACLOBAN CITY, 11 November 2022 – Taclobanons continue to power their communities with portable solar energy systems, strengthening their climate and disaster resilience nine years after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the city.
Barangay officials and electricians, government trainers, and humanitarian workers assembled seven portable solar-powered devices or TekPaks as part of the three-day Solar Scholars training carried out by Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) RE-Charge Pilipinas and the Philippine Red Cross Leyte chapter at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Region 8 training center from November 8 to 10.
The TekPak can be used to provide light, charge mobile phones, and power small medical equipment during disasters and blackouts. After the training, six units will be turned over to selected high-risk communities in Tacloban, and the remaining unit will be employed by Red Cross Leyte as part of their humanitarian response arsenal.
“Malaking bagay po itong Solar Scholars Training, lalo tuwing may emergency. Magagamit ang TekPak sa communication, importante ito para ma-contact namin ang iba naming mga kasama sa barangay para kumustahin sila at alamin kung saan sila nag-evacuate. Pwede rin namin ito magamit para tulungan yung mga nasugatan o nasaktan tuwing may disaster (The Solar Scholars training is a huge thing for us, especially during emergencies. We can use the TekPak for communication, it can help us reach our community members, ask how they are doing, and know where they evacuated. We can also use it to provide first aid to those who will get hurt or injured during disasters),” said Monaliza Antivo, one of the newest Solar Scholars, who served as a barangay nutrition scholar (BNS) volunteer at Barangay 87 Manlurip in Tacloban for 10 years.
She added, “Magagamit rin siya sa barangay namin, lalo na nasa coastal area kami at madalas nawawala yung ilaw namin. Pwede ko ring gamitin yung mga natutunan ko para turuan ang mga kasama ko sa barangay, para kahit wala ako, alam din nila paano mag-operate ng solar (We can also use the solar TekPak in our barangay, especially since we live in a coastal area and the electricity is not stable. I can also use what I learned to teach other officials in the barangay, so they would know how to operate the solar-powered system even when I am not around).
In 2015, ICSC established the Solar Scholars program by launching the first training held in Tacloban, ground zero of Haiyan, to teach community members, local governments, and civil society organizations to operate the solar-powered TekPaks and integrate renewable energy in disaster risk response and community development programs. Over 470 Solar Scholars, most of them women, have been trained around the Philippines and across seas in Suva, Fiji.
Today, recently trained Solar Scholars, along with representatives from ICSC’s RE-Charge Pilipinas, Red Cross, and barangay officials, conducted a typhoon and storm surge community drill in Barangay Cabalawan, simulating disaster response in a Haiyan-like situation.
“Ang renewable energy ay may napakahalagang role sa humanitarian response na minsan ay hindi nabibigyang pansin ng mga humanitarian actors. Sa pamamagitan nitong training, nalaman namin na kailangan ding bigyang pansin ang energy, at malaki ang maitutulong nito sa ginagawa namin (Renewable energy plays a huge role in humanitarian response, which is sometimes not recognized by humanitarian actors. Through the Solar Scholars training, we learned that we need to focus as well on energy, and it can significantly contribute to our work),” said Marife Canlas, Red Cross Leyte DRR and livelihood officer.
Loss and damage brought about by worsening climate impacts are at the center of negotiations in this year’s United Nations climate conference (COP27) being held in Egypt. According to the World Bank, Typhoon Haiyan alone resulted in the loss of 6,300 lives and caused an estimated USD 12.9 billion in damages and losses, roughly equivalent to 4.7 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product in 2013. Last September, the Department of Finance also said that the financial impact of climate disasters in the country can increase to as much as PHP 1.5 trillion in the next fifty years.
ICSC associate for community resilience Arturo Tahup pointed out that global discussions must also put their attention on equitable financing to support community-based climate solutions like the Solar Scholars program.
“Nine years after Haiyan slammed into Tacloban, survivors did more than just recover, they are now leading the way in adopting and sharing community-driven climate solutions. It is high time that developed countries responsible for the worsening impacts of climate change provide the needed support for the most vulnerable communities. With proper funding, communities will have the means to make local adaptation and mitigation initiatives more sustainable, helping people survive and thrive,” said Tahup.
AC Dimatatac, ICSC: email@example.com, +63 998 546 9788, +63 917 149 5649