All the villagers could do is watch in horror as the only wooden bridge in their community gets pounded by logs and debris carried by raging waters from the mountains time and again during the rainy season. Every time this happens, they are stranded in their village, cut off from the rest of their town.
This horrifying scene is common to the village-folks, since their barangay, Ban-as in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, is situated across a flowing river, below steep mountains. Consistent pounding by debris during heavy downpour for years has made the wooden, makeshift bridge dangerous to cross after its structural integrity has been compromised due to wear and tear throughout the years.
After years of hoping for their condition to improve, the people of Barangay Ban-as were elated that a government program would address their problem. Through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), they were able to build a spillway bridge project.
Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the poverty alleviation programs of the government implemented in rural communities. Employing community-driven development (CDD) as a strategy, the program trains and engages communities together with their local governments (barangay and municipal) to choose, design, and implement development projects to address their most pressing needs.
Since Kalahi-CIDSS encourage citizen involvement in local planning and decision-making, residents of Barangay Ban-as chose the spillway bridge project, which they deem as the most significant project that would address their biggest problem in the community.
The construction of the 23-linear meter spillway bridge (with 300 meters concrete pathway), which cost P4.3 million, was completed in 2015.
Unlike common bridges, a spillway bridge is designed to allow debris just to float over the bridge during flashfloods; thus, ensuring that the structure will not be damaged by large logs. When flood waters recede, the bridge would then be passable again.
“Kalahi-CIDSS has helped our village a lot. Because in the past, people had a hard time; since our bridge is only made of wood and bamboo, so when the water level rises up, it is hard for residents to cross to the other side going to Lianga’s commercial center to buy food.” Juvy Sarceda, a Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteer, said.
“Now that this Kalahi-CIDSS project has arrived, whenever flooding occurs, residents can cross the bridge going to school and to the commercial center again when the floodwaters recede,” Sarceda added.
The community no longer fears during the flood season that they might lose their bridge. Before, they would pray that no serious damage would be caused by flash floods to their bridge, especially if debris and logs would flow down from the mountains. It is already 2020, yet the integrity of the project is still intact and the project is still serving the community, as it should be.
“Before, we would always hope for the best when there are floods, since we fear for the bridge to get damaged, especially that the materials were light. But now, we are confident that after the water would recede, the bridge will be intact and still passable” Jeffrey Pedrozo, Brgy Ban-as councilor, said.
“Now that we have this spillway bridge, we are very much grateful since tricycles, motorcycles, and even small trucks can now directly cross the bridge going to our homes. I am thankful to DSWD, especially Kalahi-CIDSS program for giving our barangay this [spillway bridge] project,” Pedrozo said.
With the assistance from the Kalahi-CIDSS program, communities and local government units have built farm-to-market roads and bridges, school buildings, health stations, day care centers, common service post-harvest facilities, and many others small-scale projects that are responsive to community-identified needs.
Both Sarceda and Pedrozo hope that the government would continue to implement projects in the rural areas through DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS, saying that such projects are a huge help to the community.