Philippines: Women Humanitarian Workers Contribute To Zero Hunger

Behind efforts to achieve Zero Hunger are humanitarian staff working tirelessly in the field or behind office desks. Here is the story of two women staff from the World Food Programme (WFP) Philippines, Haydee Balading and Charlyn Pendang, who contribute to addressing food and nutrition security in the country.

Haydee: Food and Nutrition Security Advocate

Zhurbohida “Haydee” Balading has been working for WFP for eight years, joining the organization just a few months after its 2006 return to the Philippines to complement existing peacebuilding efforts by the government in conflict-affected Central Mindanao.

Haydee is a Field Monitor Assistant assigned in the Cotabato sub-office, where she helps implement nutrition support activities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces.  She also assists during times of emergencies; she has been part of the emergency operations teams for typhoons Nesat (locally known as Pedring), Nalgae (Quiel), Washi (Sendong), Bopha (Pablo), and Haiyan (Yolanda).

“The most challenging aspect in working for WFP is the monitoring of nutrition interventions in conflict-affected areas because the situation is very volatile, thus, it poses security risks to me,” explained Haydee. “It is also very hard to verify the results of nutrition interventions because the families are highly mobile.”

Haydee at a local health center explaining to a father and child, who are seated inside a tricycle, the uses of Plumpy D'Oz.

Despite the difficulties, Haydee continues to be inspired by her work. “Moments when I see the children and pregnant and nursing women becoming healthy due to WFP’s nutrition interventions inspire me. I feel like I am one of the instruments in bringing them new hope and a brighter future,” she said.

Describing herself as a food and nutrition security advocate, she believes she can also make an impact towards the goal of Zero Hunger by promoting strategies on food and nutrition security in Mindanao where agricultural lands and locally available food are underutilized.

“In my own opinion, I can contribute to Zero Hunger by advocating strategies for food security like vegetable gardening and other agricultural production, and also the proper utilization of locally available food,” said Haydee.

As a woman field monitor, she ensures that she also motivates other women to be food secure.

“Culturally, it is women who look into and prepare the food for the family while at the same time taking care of the children,” Haydee explained. “I believe that empowering women to be food producers and equipping them with the knowledge on how to use locally available food will contribute to the achievement of Zero Hunger.”

Charlyn: From Typhoon Survivor to Humanitarian Worker

Charlyn Pendang began working for WFP in 2011 as an Office Assistant in the Iligan sub-office. As a typhoon survivor of Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong), humanitarian work is close to her heart.

“As a typhoon survivor myself, there is a sense of fulfilment that you have responded to the immediate needs of the people and see their sincere gratitude to your organization,” Charlyn said.

On a day-to-day basis, Charlyn provides crucial administrative support to the Iligan field staff for their travel, procurement, and transportation needs.

“By providing vital support to the units of the sub-office for their daily routine in the field, I am able to contribute indirectly to the implementation of every programme,” explained Charlyn.

“I may not be directly involved in the field activities, touching the lives of every beneficiary, but I am giving the best I can to make sure that every staff is equipped with logistical and administrative support at all times which will enable them to be more efficient and responsive to whatever challenges they may encounter,” she said.

Charlyn at an office where she gives an information packet to a beneficiary.

Charlyn also assists in times of emergencies. So far, she has been able to respond to Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) and Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

“For me, responding to emergencies is the most challenging experience because it requires a quick response to every query, provision of assistance and dealing with WFP colleagues from other countries,” she said. “Also, the time spent away from my family makes it very difficult.”

In the face of the challenges, however, Charlyn remains committed to the work that she is doing.

“My current work provides an avenue for me to able to share my skills and knowledge in achieving our common goal of Zero Hunger. It is a privilege be a part of WFP,” Charlyn concluded.