TWO years after typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Visayas in November 2013, the relief and recovery efforts of Iloilo Caucus of Development-NGO (iCode), in collaboration with the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), has had significant impact in the communities that were given solar lamps and custom-made solar powered systems.

PEF, together with the Fondation de France, provided power supply and ventilation to birthing clinics and rural health units, community health centers in three municipalities, namely, Carles, Estancia and in Barangay Malangabang, Concepcion.

Emmanuel Areño, executive director of iCode-NGO, said that the solar lamps have been a valuable help for the health workers in conducting the safe delivery for pregnant women, performing health services and medical surgeries.

In October 2013, PEF sent Areño and Ed Arroyo to India to study and learn more about solar energy systems. Arroyo then custom-made the solar powered systems.

“It has been a big help since we have been affected by typhoon Yolanda and every now and then, we experience brownouts so we really appreciate that we have the solar panel to run our refrigerator so we could maintain the cold chain management of our vaccines,” said Dr. Helen Minguez, Concepcion town’s municipal health officer.

In the island barangay of Malangabang, Concepcion, a solar lamp lights up each night, the new normal for the residents.

Yolanda toppled electric posts leaving several island barangays with no power supply until today. Residents rely only on the diesel-powered generator and kerosene lamps.

Help came when PEF provided a solar power system to the barangay’s health center. Today, it continues to illuminate key areas of the barangay at night.

“Ang solar nagbigay ng liwanag sa paglakad namin sa gabi para hindi kami matakot kung saan man kami tu-tungo tuwing gabi sa isla.” said Angelie Camille Pasigna, a 12-year-old student in Malangabang.

With their school totally wiped-out after Yolanda, Angelie and her classmates were left with no other choice but to stop attending school.

It was difficult to study, cook and work back then, she said. With the solar lamp, Angelie said she can now study her lessons even after the sun sets.

Her mother, Mildred Pasigna, 39, is a barangay health worker in Malangabang.

With the solar system at the barangay’s health center, they can accommodate patients even up to the night.

A PEF partner since 2002, iCODE-NGO is a network of non-government organizations (NGOs) based in Iloilo Province. It has been helping communities since 1994 with core programs related to participatory local governance, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) is a non-stock, non-profit organization that supports the work of the civil society in ending poverty and social inequality in the Philippines. It promotes social enterprises to help uplift poor Filipino communities through better household incomes, empowerment and resiliency against climate change.