As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, most communities are affected by it. As if the world stopped, community quarantines were imposed by different Local Government Units; people started to lose their jobs. Livelihood across the Philippines is greatly affected by the pandemic.
This problem is not foreign to the small town of Bayabas. According to Bayabas Municipal Mayor, Maria Clarita G. Limbaro, the municipality is currently facing a crisis due to COVID-19. Marginalized sectors have insufficient income for basic needs, and there is an increase of displaced workers in the town.
The Municipality of Bayabas is a 5th Class Municipality in the province of Surigao del Sur. It has a population of 9,130 based on the data from the Municipal Health and Sanitation Office in 2019. Most of the Barangays here are coastal communities which are highly susceptible to disasters such as flooding, storm surge, typhoon, monsoon rains, earthquakes, and landslides.
Soil erosion is one of the problems of the municipality. Soil erosion is the movement and transport of the soil’s upper layer by different agents, particularly water, wind, and mass movement, causing its deterioration in the long term. The most effective way of minimizing erosion is to guarantee a permanent surface cover on the soil surface, such as trees, pasture, or meadow.
These problems were addressed through the projects implemented by DSWD’s Risk Resiliency Program-Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (RRP-CCAM), where the seven Barangays of Bayabas became its recipients. All the projects and activities under the program were aligned with the existing plans of the Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA), Municipal Development Plan (MPD), and the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP). They were coined as Sagip-Tubig, Sagip-ilog and Kawayanihan, Sagip-Wakatan, and Gulayan-Bayanihan.
Through the Sagip-Tubig Project or Watershed Rehabilitation, the beneficiaries supported the development and rehabilitation of the watersheds identified as a potable water source.
Sagip-ilog or riverbank stabilization thru Kawayanihan, on the other hand, is the planting of bamboo and other fruit-bearing trees along the riverbanks. This would help prevent soil erosion and flooding in the barangay.
The Sagip-Wakatan or Mangrove Reforestation helps prevent storm surge and serves as the spawning areas for the marine life to sustain the supply of aquamarine and fishery products.
Lastly, the Gulayan-Bayanihan or community garden will help sustain the vegetable and root crops supply of the community. This initiative shall address the food security crisis amidst of the pandemic in the municipality.
With the help of RRP-CCAM, the community was further educated about Climate Change, its effects, and the things they could contribute to mitigate and adapt to it. The beneficiaries were able to showcase “Bayanihan” or community participation by adopting community-defined projects.
“Before we decided the activities to be conducted, we were able to involve everyone in the decision making. It was an edge to involve all the constituents for them to become an environmental steward and collaboratively participate in creating the future of their children,” Mayor Limbaro said.
The Local Government Unit of Bayabas, the Barangay Local Government Units (BLGUs), the Municipal Social Welfare Officer, and potential beneficiaries sat down for a planning workshop to further analyze the needs of each barangay.
“Malipayon mi na daghan ang benepisyaryo sa CCAM, mas daghan ang atong na involve sa adbokasiya. Gawas nga nakatabang siya sa panginahanglan sa matag panimalay, makapaghat pa ni siya nga dili lang siya maghuna-huna ug unsay ilahang madawat kun dili unsa ilang mahatag para sa kinaiyahan (We are very glad that CCAM can accommodate a lot of potential beneficiaries. Aside from the financial assistance brought by the project, they would also think about the things they could do or offer to protect the environment),” Municipal Mayor Libaro added.
Before the implementation proper, potential beneficiaries had to attend an orientation about the project to establish a sense of ownership and responsibility for their newfound advocacy towards environmental preservation. It drove the beneficiaries to do more than they were required by helping each other and helping their community.
The various projects were turned over and accepted by the Sangguniang Kabataan Council, Barangay Council, and other existing organizations in their municipality, including women, fisherfolks, farmers, irrigators, and waterworks sanitation associations. They have committed to monitor the projects every month and allocate budget for its maintenance and sustainability.
Another means of sustainability mechanism in Bayabas is the exchanging of Bamboo culms during the payout. Each beneficiary committed and brought bamboo culms during the payout of their 10-day community work. This exceptional initiative was introduced by the LGU to gather at least 1,500 live and ready to plant bamboo culms for their Kawayanihan Growing as Riverbank Stabilization or Sagi-ilog initiative all over Bayabas. This project will help prevent soil erosion and flooding in the future.
“Dako nga tabang ang RRP-CCAM, dili lang kay natabangan ni sa amoang pang adlaw-adlaw nga panginahanglan, nakabalo pud mi unsaon pagpananom, ug ang pagpangandam sa mga muabot nga katalagman, ug sa pagpangalaga sa atong palibot. Natabangan sad mi sa amoang mga panginanglanon sulod sa usa ka bulan, tungod sa benepisyo gikan sa CCAM (RRP-CCAM is a huge help to the beneficiaries and the community, we did not only given monetary assistance but we were also educated on the things to do during disasters, and how to take care of our environment. The financial assistance brought by CCAM was able to aid our one-month consumption),” Larry Pious Murillo, the SK Chairperson and beneficiary from Bayabas, Surigao del Sur, expressed his gratefulness to the program.
DSWD does not only implement projects for the community but also ensures an increase of awareness and understanding towards its advocacies. The Municipality of Bayabas is just one of the few LGUs where RRP-CCAM brought a great impact on the community, sustainability-wise, and on the advocacy.
Let us continue influencing others on environmental preservation, BIDA Change!