John C. Maxwell once said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

Being situated in a place vulnerable to disasters caused by natural calamities, Mayor Cristina Hemady R. Arcillas of Tubod in Surigao del Norte, understands her crucial responsibility in leading her people and increasing their resiliency amidst inevitable challenges posed by climate change.

With this, she has expressed full support to the Kalahi-CIDSS program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Kalahi-CIDSS or the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services is one of the national government’s programs which primarily operates to empower communities, improve local governance, and reduce poverty.

The program uses the Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach to which community consultations and participation are done for sub-project prioritization and implementation. In the course of choosing sub-projects to be implemented, criteria are set by the communities which include factors on the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM).

 

On DRRM

As the leader of her municipality, Mayor Arcillas has shown initiative and discretion in DRRM during a Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum for Participatory Resource Allocation (MIBF-PRA) conducted last October 2012.

In the said forum, she has noticed that the project site for Brgy. Del Rosario, which ranked 4th in the prioritization, was situated in a hazard/flood-prone area based on the hazard map provided by the Project NOAH/MGB. This was after the required documents (social, technical, environmental compliance, etc.) were sorted.

Installation of 27 Units Water Harvesting (Tank 7, left view, AF, C1)
Rain water harvesting tank sub-project in Tubod, Surigao del Norte

As the municipal DRRM head, Mayor Arcillas has advised the Municipal Building Official not to issue the building permit if the proponents will not relocate the said site.

“Outright avoidance should be taken as a mitigating measure to avoid foreseen and sudden occurrences of dangers and accidents especially to the direct beneficiaries of the Program,” she says.

The community volunteers in Brgy. Del Rosario failed to provide an alternative site, so, the grant assistance was provided to the next in prioritization rank.

In Tubod, most identified sub-projects of the communities are DRRM-considering ones. For instance, the flood resilient hanging footbridge in Barangay Marga which considered a 50-year maximum flood level, thus, the hanging footbridge is about 2-3 meters above the original existing wooden footbridge used by the community.

Among the sub-projects for DRMM initiative include the construction and installation of rainwater harvesting systems primarily for water conservation to minimize, if not totally prevent, over extraction of ground water source for water preservation purposes.

 

Resilience, preparedness

Mayor Arcillas believes that resiliency is a character which should be developed in response to the challenges of the new normal.

“Kalahi-CIDSS and its CDD really work, and they work best in developing my peoples’ resiliency,” she shares.

“How I wish all the projects will be done this way; this would lessen the problems of the Mayors,” Mayor Arcillas adds.

In an interview, she opens about preparing a ready local counterpart contribution for the upcoming Kalahi-CIDSS projects in the town.

“I knew that we will have a Kalahi-CIDSS project the following year. So, even if the MOA was not yet signed and no letter was sent about the project, I banked on the reputation of DSWD to follow through on their promised project and budgeted the LGU’s counterpart.” she shares.

“This has enabled our LGU to go forward with the project on schedule, give assistance to barangays for a part of their counterpart without the need to call the Governor or the Congressman. This is what we call readiness in mind and pocket.” quips Mayor Arcillas.

 

Sharing CDD

Because she is convinced about the efficiency of the CDD technology, she has presented Kalahi-CIDSS to the Silangan Mindanao Mining Company, Incorporated (SMMCI) which operates in the municipality.

Mayor Arcillas shares her reasons on sharing the concept of Klahi-CIDSS to SMMCI
Mayor Arcillas shares her reasons on sharing the concept of Klahi-CIDSS to SMMCI

With the convincing charm of Mayor Arcillas and her confidence with the Program, the said company has adopted the approach used by Kalahi-CIDSS in performing its corporate social responsibility (CSR) through their implementation of SMMCI’s community development program (CDP).

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) has been signed on December 9, 2013 signifying the forged partnership of the two parties-DSWD and SMMCI.

The regional management of Kalahi-CIDSS and the MLGU has actively partnered in providing inputs and discussions on environmental management and DRRM during the training-orientation and skills enhancement on CDD approach to the SMMCI staff/personnel.

As a public-private partnership initiative, the technical staff has talked about the importance of designing environmentally-responsive, disaster-resilient, and cost-effective sub-projects that will respond to DRRM issues and impacts.

Mayor Arcillas appreciates the inclusion of the Thematic and Environmental Management System (TEMS) and DRRM in the training modules and session plans in the conduct of Project Development Workshop (PDW) and infrastructure training even during accountability reporting.

 

Inclusive, felt development

“The Kalahi way is different from the usual implementation of projects because in the Program, the decision comes from the grassroots sector, therefore, the results are realistic and practical,” bares Mayor Arcillas.

Furthermore, she shares her appreciation on how the CDD approach and the process of Kalahi-CIDSS have strengthened the Filipino values such as the bayanihan.

“The CDD approach has shown our constituents how the Government processes work, including the strengths and weaknesses,” she adds.

She also voices her strong willingness to recommend the Kalahi-CIDSS program to anyone because she believes that it teaches the people about sustainable development.

The communities in Tubod haven’t felt that they are alone in their plight for inclusive development because of the overwhelming support of the local chief executive.

As an adage says, though values are taught, but most of the time they are caught. ###(Social Marketing Unit/DSWD Field Office Caraga)