Help is a text message away for many Filipinos in times of crisis.
International Care Ministries (ICM), a Philippine-based non-profit organization, has delivered over 20 million meals and relief goods to 5.8 million Filipino family members since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns through its Rapid Emergencies and Disaster Intervention (REDI) help hotline. REDI is powered by Infocast, a web-based text-broadcasting solution provided by Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).
Since 2017, ICM has been using Smart’s Infocast for REDI to send and receive important updates across 27 provinces across the country. It proved to be an invaluable tool during both natural and man-made crises, especially during the pandemic lockdowns. ICM gets urgent information from its network of pastors, community leaders, staff, and volunteers who are registered on the platform, then gathers the details to immediately execute relief distribution and other disaster mitigation plans.
“Infocast is part of Smart’s advocacy to help improve the lives of Filipinos, by delivering digital solutions to its partner communities. Our partnership with ICM through Infocast for REDI proves that collaboration across program, social, and community partners leads to effective assistance to underserved communities,” according to Cathy Yang, first vice president and head of Group Corporate Communications at PLDT and Smart.
ICM is a non-profit organization working in Palawan, and the Visayas and Mindanao provinces for the past 30 years, providing health and livelihood support to families living in ultra-poverty. Living in ultra-poverty is being at the bottom of the economic ladder, unable to meet their basic needs with incomes less than US$0.50 (Php 28) per day. ICM works with partner pastors within ultra-poor communities to run its poverty-alleviation program.
In times of great need including disasters, more than 10,000 pastors send their requests through the REDI system. ICM receives these requests through Smart’s Infocast and social messaging, verifies them, and distributes relief packs to ultra-poor communities in remote areas of the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the poorest of the poor especially hard. Through REDI, ICM delivered over 14 million meals to at-risk families, many in remote areas.
When Typhoon Odette devastated the areas served by ICM, REDI was instrumental in getting relief supplies to communities. ICM’s staff and thousands of partner pastors helped identify the specific families in dire need so they could get help quickly, delivering 4.4 million meals to 89,000 families needing assistance.
“With Smart’s Infocast, we have a system to send and receive information and to identify the needs from the community itself,” said Leah Mae J. Lagahit, External Relations Manager at ICM. ”Blasting information to around 10,000 pastors is not something that we can do on our own, so having this system is very beneficial for us to facilitate that communication.”
To date, Smart Infocast has enabled ICM to make 16,000 deliveries of food and relief goods from REDI reports. Infocast is part of a broader program of the PLDT Group to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #11 of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.