Bohol, December 4, 2014. Forty-three delegates representing 21 non-government organizations and a funding partner, Heifer Philippines gathered together to hold the 16th annual conference of DISOP partners in the Philippines. The civil society organizations (CSOs) mostly came from the Visayas and Mindanao although there were representatives of two (2) CSOs from Luzon. Active and former partners of DISOP Philippines were duly represented. Five delegates represents Heifer Philippines, a funding partner of DISOP Philippines in implementing its development agenda. In addition, two (2) of the participants were current partners of Entraide et Fraternite (EF), another Belgian NGO who is active in the Philippines and mostly operated in Mindanao. Through the years, civil society organizations involved in the DISOP Philippines program is increasing. This is because DISOP Philippines always maintains contact with former partners for information exchanges, updates and knowledge sharing.
Highlighting the 2014 annual conference was the field visit to the beneficiaries of the host organizations of the event– the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation, Inc. (SWCFI) and the Pagtambayayong Foundation, Inc. (PFI). The visits were conducted in the municipalities of Carmen and Batuan, province of Bohol for SWCF partner beneficiaries. Then we proceeded to visit the housing project in Barangay New Lourdes, municipality of Cortes which were supported by DISOP and SELAVIP and implemented by PFI in partnership with the Alliance of Informal Settlers Organization (AISO) of the Social Action Center of Tagbilaran City, Bohol. In the conference proper, the active partners took turns in presenting their projects and what has been achieved in the first year of the 3-year program. Sharing and interaction among participants during the presentation of projects were dynamic and productive.
The conference also tackled administrative concerns of DISOP Philippines. Partners were made aware that the program in the Philippines for 3 years is consolidated into one and integrated into the overall program of DISOP. This means that every partner contributes to the achievement of the 3-year program even if the implementation of the project is separately undertaken by partners. Besides, the following were also discussed:
- The concept of the common context analysis – the purpose of this is because the Belgian government is receiving several context analysis from the Philippines for funding. So the government is trying to unify and get a common context analysis from the Philippines. So in one way or the other, the partners will be involved in the future and participate in the workshop/exercise to formulate the common context.
- Participatory impact assessment tools – measure of impact and very hard because there are several factors affecting impacts especially for the family. Kathleen presented the sample formulated tools in Belgium. They were impressed on the personal goals but not on the group goals because it is more like a duplication of the OCSA Tool.
- Possible tie-up with an International NGO Exchange (exchangevzw.be) especially for partners in the entrepreneurial programs.
- Possible external evaluator that will be commissioned by DISOP to evaluate selected projects in the Philippines.
The conference ended with impressions from the participants. Their various opinions were as follows:
- Share the information gathered and learned especially from the field visit.
- The synergy of the partners in a conference is a big help for exchange of information.
- The exchange/interaction from the youth learning centers that has evolved is impressive.
- The process of the conference and how it is conducted is also good.
- Grateful for the opportunity to attend the conference to learn from the PO visit and interaction from the partners presentations.
- How to integrate environment with livestock production especially with partners working in environmentally-sensitive areas to minimize the impact.
- In the future, Heifer Philippines cited the possibility of working with small islands like Camiguin, Capul and Dinagat.
To be decided but the partners suggested that it will not be on the months of November and December because it is typhoon months. The partners suggested the month of August for next year’s conference.