Community Health Education Emergency Education (CHEERS) Corporation, is an organization that provides internationally accredited and nationally certified and ladderized Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training and capacity building on disaster preparedness.
In response to this gap, the institution, headed by Mr. John Alvin Montano and Ms. Sandra “Sandy” Montano, proposes to conduct capacity building on disaster preparedness entitled the “Global Disaster Preparedness Program (GDPP)” and on the Emergency Food Reserve (EFR) Social Enterprise System.
Both initiatives aim to increase the public’s ability to better prepare and respond to disasters. It also aims to economic resilience by providing communities with livelihood opportunities around the production of nutritious ERFs which are solely needed during disasters but are also helpful during normal times by providing society with an alternative snacking option that is healthy, nutritious and affordable.
CHEERS’ flagship program is the GDPP which has been recognized and endorsed by various government agencies such as the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED, the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). In its seven (7) years of existence, it contributed to national development in providing various EMS-related training to more than 30,000 healthcare students, professionals, disaster front liners and ordinary citizens equipping them with skills, competence and mindset to better respond to emergency situations reducing the unnecessary loss of human lives and property and it has secured many events, for example, the 2009 Palarong Pambasa held in Palawan, which registered zero-casualty.
Partnering within the ASEAN in NATION BUILDING by reducing vulnerability, developing resilience through Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation, Relief and Recovery, Business Continuity and Building Back Better!
Emergency Food Reserve (EFR) Social Enterprise System
The EFR Social Enterprise System is a capacity building program for organizations to develop a social enterprise around the production and marketing of Emergency Food Reserves or Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) that will address the lack of nutritious sources of energy during emergencies, calamities, disasters and famine. This aims to strengthen the economic resilience of communities in disaster prone areas by engaging in an income generating project that addresses one of the gaps in disaster response and relief. The illustration on the right presents a possible business model among CHEERS, a local NGO as the source of the EFR ingredients and local producers.
CHEERS is the premier partner of the Department of Science and Technology – Institute Technology Development Institute (DOST- ITDI) for the development of the EFR technology, marketing and branding of the products, networking and linkaging with partners and producers of raw materials.
In the 2012 World Risk Report of the United Nations University, the Philippines was ranked as the 3rd most disaster risk country worldwide. This report has not yet taken into account the many disasters, both man-made and natural, that befell the country in 2013, namely, Typhoons Yolanda and Santi, the Bohol Earthquake and the Zamboanga Crisis which would surely impact this assessment.
These disasters took enormous toll on human lives and the economy exposing the vulnerabilities of communities and families. One of the vulnerabilities that Typhoon Haiyan particularly surfaced was the acute lack of supply of nutritious emergency food reserves which made disaster victims dependent on sardines and noodles, the staple in government-sponsored relief food packs which in the short run, serves the purpose of feeding hungry and desperate people.
However, if people stayed on these kinds of food or diet for an extended period of time, it poses health and nutritional risks and is not beneficial to people who are diabetic and hypertensive.
This shows a continuing need to intensify and complement the disaster preparedness capacity building efforts of government, international non-government organizations (INGOs), overseas development agencies (ODAs) and international and local non-government organizations (INGOs and NGOs) given to the public so that a more holistic and integrated disaster preparedness and response can be achieved that is beneficial not only to individuals and families, but to communities and society as well.
The Philippines is a natural disaster prone country with a high incidence of poverty, escalating population growth and increasing threat of malnutrition, food shortages and hunger that can be aggravated by the effects of climate change such as extreme weather events.
The food price crisis of the last five years has drawn new attention to the problems of food supply in poor countries as well as the hollowness of previous advice to them to rely on world markets for any gaps in supply. Earlier concepts of food security, involving a greater reliance on domestic or regional supplies, are being reconsidered, including the deployment of public reserves of staple foods to meet pressing needs.
In designing any policy of food reserves, it is helpful to do so in ways that will facilitate the development of agriculture and agricultural commerce, and in the long run reduce a country’s or region’s dependence on donors and other external influences. Therefore preference should be given to designs which generate these internal processes to the full, even if they take longer to reach their potential or are more expensive for the countries concerned in the short or medium term.
In general, food emergencies arise from three types of event:
1. Natural disasters such as typhoons, droughts, floods and earthquakes.
2. The loss of normal supplies for economic, political or military reasons. The rice export bans including India’s and Vietnam’s in 2007-12, which affected people in rice-importing nations like the Philippines as well as Senegal and certain others in Africa. Such events do not necessarily lead to emergencies but they can do. That depends whether any shortfall in imports can be replenished on acceptable commercial terms elsewhere.
3. An increase in prices of imported food to a level that causes unacceptable hardship. This has been a frequent cause of food emergencies since 2007, although it was quite a rare event before then.
In addition, the government has very limited resources to effectively and sustainably respond to rescue and relief operations during calamities and food shortages as evidenced by the slow and tedious response in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda in 2013 which devastated areas in Central Visayas extending from Guiuan, Eastern Samar to Coron, Palawan even with the generous outpouring of international support.
A novel emergency food preparation is a practical approach to food relief logistics under the cooperation among the private and government sectors. Local production of emergency food rations can eliminate dependence on limited national/regional stocks and foreign aid, and could even generate livelihood opportunities.
The project is also in line with the implementation of R.A. 10121: Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, in which the DOST Secretary acts as the Vice Chair for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
Emergency Food Reserve (EFR) is an energy dense and nutritionally packed food that has a bland taste and can be blended with spices and other ingredients to create meals with desired flavors and variety. It is made from climate change resistant food crops abundant and grown in the country such as Cassava, Malunggay, Camote and Munggo.
The product when properly packaged can be stored for more than a year as emergency food stock that can be used for feeding during emergency relief and rehabilitation program. It can be mixed with water and consumed without the need for cooking.
However, to increase its palatability, it can be mixed with other beverages like coffee, milk and chocolate to create a nourishing and filling drink. It can also mixed with soup stock or meat broth to create a nutritiously dense porridge that can be fed to small children (6 mos to 3 years old), elderly, Convalescent patients and best for feeding program for public schools and communities nationwide.
EFR provides a very versatile base for different food formulations/preparations that can be used to produce different food products for income generation and livelihood opportunities. These characteristics of EFR can be used in a strategic program for achieving food security, economic development and disaster preparedness.
The product was developed by Ms. Lourdes Solidum-Montevirgen, Senior Science Research Specialist, of the Food Processing Division-Industrial Technology Development Institute in 2010 as an off shoot of her involvement in the project of then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza for the development of dried vegetables as fortificant in snack foods for the nutritional feeding program of the city for elementary schoolchildren.