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I started to share the dream about this project with Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in 2016 during one of our trainings in Tagaytay City. As a monitoring and evaluation officer, I saw it as an urgent need for us to be able to provide baseline demographical data to our partners, especially those in the local government units. You see, our public officials would readily believe something when presented with imaginable data sets.

In addition to this, our donors also needed verifiable beneficiary lists and impacts of the interventions we mentioned in our proposals and reports. The only way to do this was to be able to digitise the results of our Participatory Disaster Risk Assessments (PDRA). I didn’t want to be unnecessarily disturbed during weekends and holidays with a question on a beneficiary’s profile, or the level of vulnerability of one community, when all this information can be accessed in one digital platform.

So when the news came that we made it as one of the three projects to receive seed-funding from Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) across the Asia-Pacific region,  I couldn’t have been happier!

JD Melendres (centre) of Caritas Palo and the technical consultant during the geo-tagging activity in Brgy. Catmon, Tanauan, Leyte.

“NASSA/Caritas Philippines is leading efforts to train staff and partners within the agency and other institutions on the use of this newly developed software for project monitoring, evaluation and gathering of accurate and real-time data from its communities. The innovative use of the technology is the first in the Catholic Church,” I shared during our inception workshop.

Though we are just piloting in Barangay Catmon, Tanauan municipality in Leyte province, the Barangay officials have already expressed support for the project. Our digitised map will be showing data sets on the hazards, vulnerabilities, risks and capacities of the community, including geo-tagged locations of all 232 households who participated in the PDRA.

I hope that other communities will be able to benefit from #DIGITALPH. Even more than those of us in the humanitarian sector, and in the church, the government needs a platform like this. It’s about time we graduate from our colonial dole-out mentality.

Author: JD Melendrez, MEAL Officer, Caritas Palo

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