Strength in community: Tackling COVID-19 recovery in the Philippines through community-driven development

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COVID response building in Barobo, Philippines COVID response building in Barobo, Philippines

When COVID-19 hit the Philippines and the country began community quarantine in March 2020, the National Community Driven Development Project (NCDDP) was in its final phase of implementation. The project quickly triggered its Disaster Response Operations Modality (DROM) to support communities with COVID-19 response and early recovery. The DROM allowed the communities to reallocate $24 million for these purposes, supporting around 631,000 households across 2,158 barangays (communities) in 136 of the country’s poorest municipalities between May 2020 and the closing of the project in December 2020.

NCDDP is delivering targeted support to many poor communities, which are often located in remote areas, and has achieved a 65 percent participation rate from marginalized groups like women and indigenous peoples. To date, the project has mobilized around 1.89 million community volunteers with women holding 63 percent of leadership positions in the community volunteer committees.

Container vans converted into COVID-19 isolation facilities in Mapanas, Northern Samar
Container vans converted into COVID-19 isolation facilities in Mapanas, Northern Samar 

The DROM is a modality that adapts the community-driven development (CDD) process to support community recovery in disaster-affected areas. In the first two years of NCDDP, the DROM was tested in 554 municipalities affected by Typhoon Haiyan between 2014 and 2016. Through DROM, the project delivers larger block grants, allows for an extended menu of basic services and facilities, and has more flexible financial management and procurement procedures.

The mobilization of the DROM for COVID-19 allowed the program to respond to changing community priorities. Before the pandemic, communities prioritized basic service sub-projects that built community infrastructure like access roads and drainage canals. In response to COVID-19, communities shifted their focus on establishing or upgrading isolation facilities in accordance with Department of Health protocols, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, and improved water and sanitation facilities.

In one municipality, 11 barangays agreed to pool their grant funds to finance a health facility, constructed in line with the Department of Health’s standards. The DROM for COVID-19 response also provided temporary employment, through a cash-for-work scheme, for more than 38,000 community workers, 39 percent of whom are women. A total of 2,399 community sub-projects were financed in support of COVID-19 preparedness and early recovery.

On December 16, 2020, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved an Additional Financing (AF) of $300 million for NCDDP to scale up the response and recovery support to COVID-19 and future disasters in 676 poor municipalities. The operation will reach an estimated total of four million households. The AF will continue supporting communities through the DROM and its focus on investing in an early and equitable COVID-19 recovery.

A recent World Bank survey in the poorest communities in the Philippines found that more than 50 percent of communities are experiencing severe employment and income losses, especially in the construction and transport sectors. In response, the project will include support for local economic development and maintain its focus on vulnerable and marginalized groups, including indigenous peoples and women.




Ditte Fallesen

Senior Social Development Specialist

Camila Linneman

Consultant, Community-Driven Development, World Bank

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