ausaid visit
Australian visitors say hello to the pupil beneficiaries of the AusAID/DFAT-funded classroom.

Sibagat, Agusan del Sur- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga has facilitated recently the high-level visit in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur of some Australian Government Representatives in the persons of Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia Maritime Division Allaster Cox of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and His Excellency Bill Tweddell, Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines.

According to Ambassador Tweddell, the purpose of their visit is to learn more about Australia’s support to the Province of Agusan del Sur and the site visit in El Rio was the first leg of their whole trip. “We want to look at the completed classrooms and interact with the community beneficiaries,” he said.

The community volunteers in Sibagat showcased a completed school building with two (2) classrooms in Barangay El Rio. This sub-project was funded by the previous grant from the Australian Aid for Development (AusAid), now DFAT, coursed through the KALAHI CIDSS- National Community-Driven Development Program (KC-NCDDP) of DSWD.

The high-level visitors, escorted by Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP) Counselor Geoff King, Governance Adviser Paul Hutchcroft, Human Resource and Organizational Development Facility (HROF) Portfolio Manager Erika Geronimo, and DFAT Senior Program Officer Rosela Agcaoili, inspected the classrooms and checked the facilities inside including the arm chairs, the comfort rooms, and others.

“I am really impressed with the completed classrooms; the grant was apparently judiciously managed by the community volunteers,” Twedell added.

“The visit was very enriching and we are very thankful for the DSWD, the local authorities, and the community residents for the wonderful partnership,” quipped Assistant Secretary Cox.

DSWD Caraga Regional Director Minda Brigoli briefed the visitors and the participants on the accomplishment of the Field Office for the Aussie-funded project implementation. “In the region, about 68 sub-projects comprised of 18 day care centers and 50 school buildings (91 classrooms) worth P 88.44 M, from the P 72.74 M AusAID grant and P 15.70 local counterpart contribution (LCC), were implemented through the funding support of Australia,” she shared.

“The site visit of our visitors who are also our development partners affirms the thrust towards convergence as the beneficiaries of the school building construction are also Conditional Cash transfer (CCT) beneficiaries,” said Brigoli.

Mayor Thelma Lamanilao expressed her thanks to the Australian government for trusting their municipality and giving the grant for the construction of the classrooms which were now utilized by grade 2 and 3 pupils. “The sub-project is indeed the basic social service greatly needed by the residents in El Rio as this will provide an avenue of learning for their children,” she quipped.

The key Regional Program Management Office (RPMO) staff, led by Regional Program Manager and Assistant Regional Director for Operations Mita Lim, were also in full-force in facilitating the said visit.

During the dialogue with the community volunteers, local government unit (LGU) officials, and the RPMO workers, Allaster Cox asked the volunteers about the plans for the sustainability of the projects.

“The community organized an operation and maintenance group who are responsible in sustaining the sub-project. The parents and the organization agreed that they will require a collection of 2 pesos per household which will be used for minor repairs of the school building,” answered Dolores Padin, Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) chairperson.

Another AUD 12 M grant was provided by the Australian government to the country. This grant shall be used for the construction of day care centers and school buildings thru the KC-NCDDP community-driven development approach. ###(KC-NCDDP/Social Marketing Unit/DSWD Field Office Caraga)