Learning: B-ready

Project phase: Pilot Phase
Thematic Area: Cash Programming  

Summary: Financial technologies to enable pre-disaster Cash Transfer Program to save lives, increase preparedness and mitigate disaster risks. The project was implemented over a period of 27 months in the municipality of Salcedo in Eastern Samar province in the Philippines. It supported almost 2,000 vulnerable households to better prepare for disasters by having access to forecast information and digital financial services such as pre-disaster fund, savings, and insurance. The project was Resilience and preparedness are the first line of defense for vulnerable communities in disaster prone areas. Adequate disaster preparedness is key to increasing communities and minimizing the risk posed to their lives and livelihood.

B-READY project aims to better protect vulnerable households from natural disasters by combining innovations in impact-based weather forecasting and financial technologies designed to save lives, increasing preparedness, and mitigating disaster risks through enabling pre-disaster cash transfers.
The project combines two (2) innovations on disaster preparedness to enhance community resilience using:

Early warning system through implemented by a consortium of partners from the government, local civil society organizations, science-based organizations, financial technology companies, and international non-government organizations

Elements of the project

  • DIF 1
  • Participating organisations: Oxfam Novib (lead), Plan International, Global Parametrics, PayMaya Philippines, Visa Worldwide, CLIMBS Insurance Cooperative
  • Project period: 1 January 2019 – 31 March 2021
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Budget: €610.444
  • Project Lead: Petra Hamers / Tamara Campero / cc Claudette van Rijn
  • Contact Details: petra.hamers@oxfamnovib.nl / tamara.campero@oxfamnovib.nl

Problem statement

Impoverished communities in disaster-prone areas are hit disproportionately hard by disasters through loss of life, suffering and economic fallback. Within these communities the most vulnerable groups, including women, children and disabled persons suffer the most severe consequences of disasters. Vulnerability is determined by poverty, the lack access to information (forecast), capacities and resources to minimize the impact of disasters. The third most disaster-prone country worldwide is the Philippines, especially the Salcedo municipality (see map) where the proposed intervention is to take place. 

Investing in disaster risk reduction and preparedness yields multiple benefits (ISDR, UNOCHA), starting with saving lives, reducing infrastructure damage and minimizing economic losses. There is evidence that each Euro invested in disaster preparedness saves between four and seven Euros which would be spent in response to a disaster (EU, 2018). Unfortunately, although critically needed for regions like Salcedo, disaster preparedness is woefully underfunded.

At the same time, we have seen a rise in cash transfer programming (CTP) within the international humanitarian system over the last 10 years. There is recognition that CTP can be more efficient and effective than traditional in-kind assistance. However, delivering safe and timely CTP poses a significant challenge for governments, civil society organizations and financial institutions after a disaster hits. Financial service infrastructure is often damaged or lacking; disaster contingency plans often lack financial components; financial literacy and awareness of CTP is often low among local humanitarian actors. Although CTP can be far more effective at reducing human and financial cost of a disaster before the event, until now CTP has been used primarily reactively for recovery, rather than proactively for preparedness and resilience.  


Where? Philippines,  Municipality of Salcedo in Eastern Samar province, located in the country’s eastern corridor (Matarinao, Burak, Bagtong, Buabua, Butig, Palanas, Cagaut, Bua-bua and Palanas) which is most vulnerable to strong tropical cyclones that originate in the Pacific Ocean.

Who? Vulnerable groups, including women, children and disabled persons.

What? The B-READY project sought to enhance resilience and disaster preparedness of vulnerable communities.

Innovation proposed? The project put in place a preemptive CTP

Why? Vulnerable households globally, and in the Philippines, struggle to protect themselves from disasters. Vulnerability is determined by poverty, lack of information, and lack of resources: communities’ lack of disaster preparedness often stems from a lack of financial resources, governmental neglect and the inability to predict the impact of disasters. 

Learning questions

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Humanitarian actors’ ability and capacity to reduce disaster impacts were strengthened by the inte-gration of impact-based forecasting models in disaster early action protocols that will enable the re-lease of financial support (grants/services) to the most vulnerable before a disaster strikes.

Local leadership is instrumental in safeguarding the rights of citizens and in promoting participation.

The pilot is not just a technical pilot to see how the use of data and triggers affect the resilience of vulnerable people; but about building roadmap towards a lasting collaboration between the two sectors as an additional way of operations for the humanitarian sector as well as the financial sector.

Overall Impact ​

Vulnerable communities are better prepared to manage and cope the financial adverse impact of climate relates disasters.

By the end of the project period, key accomplishments of B-READY included the following:

  • 1,981 vulnerable households (101% of target) acquired knowledge on the benefits and management of financial products and gained increased access to financial services like savings and mobile accounts.
  • 54 referral pathways for safeguarding rights and welfare of vulnerable groups such as poor women, children, persons with disabilities (PWDs) were enhanced before and during the emergency crisis.
  • The local government, financial service providers (FSPs) and humanitarian actors are practicing efficient, safe and transparent cash transfer programs through digital disbursement before the impact of a disaster.
  • 17 community-based FSPs and merchants (113% of target) have been established and linked to the market.
  • 10 risk maps and contingency plans (200% of target) were created and used by target local government units and humanitarian actors.
  • An index on parametrical cyclone models has been tested to evaluate the probability of damage caused by a typhoon (e.g., wind and precipitation).
  • Triggers for preemptive cash transfer have been collectively designed and determined by humanitarian actors involved in data forecasting, civil society organizations and government.
  • Local stakeholders and FSPs twice successfully executed preemptive cash-transfers based on identified triggers and data forecast.
  • For project sustainability and scaling-up, the Municipal Legislative Council (Sangguniang Bayan) passed a resolution adopting the B-READY parametric index as basis for preemptive disaster and cash transfer response.


The B-READY model has been adopted by the local government of Salcedo, East Samar, Philippines and issued a resolution to adopt the whole B-READY model as part of early warning, early action; more specifically, the use of digital forecast technology for 3 days release of cash grant for early action and protection.

Scaling plans

“B-READY is piloted in Indonesia (under FCDO) and Sudan (under Sudan Joint Response) and is being scaled up in the Philippines. Furthermore, the partnership has applied for ECHO funding to continue the pilot in Indonesia and to expand to Bangladesh. Talks are ongoing to explore funding opportunities for Uganda as well.

  • DIF 4
  • Participating organisations Oxfam Novib (lead), Plan International, Global Parametrics
  • Innovation phase: Scaling
  • Project period 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022
  • Budget: €800.000″

Variables of success

  • Past track record with VISA card and Oxfam’s experience in Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) on cash transfer.
  • Very good communication among project stakeholders and enabling relationship with the local government of Salcedo.
  • Local government’s receptiveness, openness and ownership of the B-READY project, including its active involvement in developing the guidelines for preemptive cash transfer.
  • Political will and leadership of the local chief executive who served as champion of B-READY.
  • Tapping the technical expertise of Global Parametrics helped convince the LGU and other sectors on the soundness of the index.
  • Assistance of local partners in getting the right data for the proper calibration of the index as well as in its testing and actual use, thus enabling B-READY to establish a good early warning system.
  • Private sector support in helping develop a business model for preemptive insurance and in developing programs/products, even without any financial grant from the project:
  • Flexibility, willingness, receptiveness and efforts of project partners:
  • Having the right partners working together to attain the project objectives.
  • Trust of beneficiaries in INGOs/CSOs working together at the community level.
  • Dedicated project staff working at the community level.
  • Support from the national level (e.g., OCD, PAGASA) for the B-READY initiative.
  • Thematic, focused, calibrated and easy-to-understand capacity-building interventions of the project on CTP, preemptive cash transfer protocols, user education for the use of financial services, financial literacy, forecast information, safeguarding and child protection, and other related topics.
  • Trust of donors in helping the project realize its objectives.

Variables of challenges

  • Impact of COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Originally, the roles of the protection monitors were to safeguard the vulnerable people before, during, and after the disaster. As the project progressed, the compounded multiple tasks have been a challenge for the protection monitors especially during cash disbursement.
  • As long as no cash was downloaded on the accounts, participants often had a wait-and-see atti-tude wherein they tended not to activate their cards and secured their accounts.
  • Absence of local recorded data on typhoon historical data made the creation of the model slower because Global Parametrics had to coordinate with PAGASA, which took a while.
  • Access to mobile signal and internet connectivity; lack of knowledge to operate mobile phones or other gadgets; lost sim cards; lack of own mobile phones.
  • Project staff turnover.
  • Suspension of pre-disaster micro-insurance product development. = the pilot project prioritized the proving of concept and implementation of preemptive CTP as well as improving the financial literary of beneficiaries. For savings, loans and microinsurance, the pilot project focused on the development of these financial products and services.
  • Capacity of the MLGU to sustain the forecast-based model and preemptive cash transfer undertaking: Project management structures were present and functioned for certain periods, particularly at the start of the project, but a few of these did not function completely or regularly in the way that some consortium members expected. The project could have benefitted if a better structure for collaboration/ synergy was established at project inception, such as the creation of an Advisory Body (AB), a Project Management Team (PMT), a Project Steering Committee (PSC), and Project Implementation Teams (PITs) for the project components.
  • Policy barrier to preemptive cash transfer program.

Beneficiaries' feedback


  • Preemptive cash assistance enabled the beneficiaries to buy their basic needs (e.g., food, milk for children, medicines, shelter kits) and proceed to the evacuation center ahead of time, giving them peace of mind and less mental stress.
  • they were no longer ashamed to go to the evacuation centers as they had their own food. In effect, the project upheld their dignity because, as the beneficiaries put it, “we no longer appear helpless in the evacuation centers”.
  • Beneficiaries developed better understanding and appreciation of disaster preparedness and basic household financial management.
  • Compared to the counterfactual barangays, all the BLGUs in the project sites have updated their contingency plans because of the capacity-building assistance provided by B-READY.
    • The BDRRMCs in the project sites were more systematic in their approach because of the community-based trainings provided by the project to their community members.
  • All of the nine B-READY-supported barangays had additional early warning system (EWS) devices provided by the project (e.g., mobile phone, amplifier, microphone, WiFi, PA horn or “trompa,” portable generator), enabling them to improve their disaster preparedness.


  • Several beneficiaries who encountered technical problems had negative thoughts about the long process (e.g., process of changing account numbers was difficult and time-consuming) and some lost hope.
  • Several beneficiaries who were not able to claim their cash assistance because of technical issues blamed the protection monitors.
  • Some beneficiaries who did not receive their cash assistance became uncooperative and did not attend the FGDs organized for the project evaluation.


On Beneficiaries

  • Disaster preparedness (ex-ante) is better than disaster response (ex-post).
  • Attaining “zero casualties” is feasible by being disaster-ready and alert during disasters.
  • Preemptive CTP is better than in-kind assistance (e.g., relief goods) as money can be used by beneficiaries to buy needed items in preparation for disasters.
  • The bayanihan spirit 20 is very much alive. Communities unite and help each other, without hesitation, during disasters.

On project design:

  • It is important to identify and ensure the presence of all necessary elements to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of all project components.
  • The design could have included engagement and partnership with government agencies (e.g., PAGASA, COA, Insurance Commission) at the start of the project to address early possible barriers to project implementation.
  • The project partners eventually saw the need for knowledge management and strategic communications as vital project components. On project management and MELSA:
  • The project could have benefitted more people if a better structure for collaboration/synergy was established at the project’s inception such as the creation of an Advisory Body (AB), Project  Management Team (PMT), Project Steering Committee (PSC), and Project Implementation Teams (PIT) for the project components. Project management structures were present and functioned for certain periods, particularly at the start of the project, but a few of these did not function completely or regularly in the way that some consortium members expected.
  • MELSA could have been improved by tracking outcomes early on in the project life, and if there were more exchanges among partners in terms of achieving learning agenda and sharing of inputs based on initiatives in other areas/countries.
  • An elaborate set of indicators for capacity-building could have been prepared to track progress in the capacities of project participants.
  • Interventions could have been more data-driven if the Gender Assessment and Baseline Study were conducted in the first few months of Year 1.
  • It would have been better if Oxfam Pilipinas and Plan International Philippines both implemented all the components holistically (e.g., preemptive CTP, safeguarding) as part of “learning by doing” approach, especially in view of possible scale-up and replication in the future.

Stakeholders & Private sectors

  • A lot of time was spent in Year 1 in getting all stakeholders involved and in setting up the project. Bringing local government stakeholders and local partners on board much earlier could have helped with the speed of project implementation.
  • There is a need to further broaden engagement with the private sector in developing financial products and services that will cater to the needs of vulnerable households.

On capacity building:

  • There is a need to further strengthen/build the capacity of local actors.

On the use of technology for preemptive CTP:

  • Technical issues should have been addressed one by one and swiftly, through constant monitoring, so that these would not pile up. Assigning a full-time technical Paymaya staff to assist in addressing each issue at a faster pace could have facilitated resolution of technical issues.
  • There is a need to explore context-based and practical options for the implementation of preemptive CTP. Multiple tools and channels can be considered, not just one service provider.
  • The important consideration is to ensure the release of cash assistance before the impact of the typhoon.