BUTUAN CITY – In their continued pursuit of improving the plight of poor communities in Caraga region, the Spanish government-funded anti-poverty project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), PODER, successfully wrapped up its seventh year implementation of a grant worth Php14,605,205.00.

Using a community-driven development (CDD) approach, Poder focused on the provision of basic health and education services in three municipalities in the region especially targeted to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the government’s conditional-cash transfer program.

The municipalities of Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur; San Agustin, Surigao del Sur; and Tubajon, Province of Dinagat Islands received grants from the Spanish government through the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID) with 14 sub-projects or infrastructures erected by the communities in less than a year.

In one of the sub-project turn-over ceremonies, Surigao del Sur provincial administrator Efren Rivas expressed his appreciation to the project because “it does not only provide the basic social services in the communities but also nurture the minds of the volunteers” through trainings and workshops that it provided.

Regional director for DSWD Caraga Dr. Minda B. Brigoli said that Poder is a testament that the government’s vision of improving local governance and enjoining every citizen in the development is reaping its results through increased citizen participation that is “being lauded by the international community.”

“The battle has ended and the reward is at hand,” Rogelio C. Garcia, a high school teacher and a community volunteer, proudly shared this to dignitaries and officials for them to hear his story of change.

“First, I am a teacher and all I wanted was a sub-project that will cater the needs of my students. When I volunteered for Poder, I knew I had to sacrifice and render extra time to realize our three-classroom high school building,” Garcia added.

“The days when my students would lose interest in listening to my lectures because of incessant dripping of rainwater inside our dilapidated classroom are gone. We are now enjoying a new classroom with floors for a castle and a washroom with clean, running water,” Garcia said.

Poder operates on the principles of citizen empowerment, participatory governance, demand-responsiveness, administrative autonomy, greater downward accountability, and enhanced local capacity.

“Development should start at the bottom, ordinary citizens steering themselves toward empowerment demonstrates the kind of people we would always like to work for and the government is their partner to make a change and make that happen,” Brigoli said. ### (Social Marketing Unit)

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