DISOP Philippines

Institutionalization of Forest Management and Community Education in Region 8 (Leyte, Samar & Biliran Islands) (FCI-IFMACER)

Partner:

Foundational Center, Inc. (FCI) 35 Real Street, 6500 Tacloban City, Leyte Philippines

The current project of FCI is an expansion called Capacity Building of CBFM Associations in Region 8 or CBCARE and the original concept now covers all the six provinces of Eastern Visayas.  In each of the six provinces, a federation of five CBFM associations are now in operation. These federations are currently being assisted to capacitate their member-POs so they can competently help improve the quality of life of their farmer-members. Some 3,170 upland farmer-families have availed of the capacity building activities afforded to the federations throughout the region.

Integration of lessons learned from the previous project

  •  Creation of provincial Federation of CBFM associations. Among the most important lessons learned in the course of project implementation is the fact that the different provincial federations that were created have become a “potent force” towards real people empowerment of upland farmers in the CBFM areas. Through these Federations, local peoples’ organizations were able to pursue crafting of relevant policies that affect the everyday lives of members and directed their sights towards program directions of government agencies, NGOs, and of the local government units.
  • Involvement of more stakeholders. Also considered an important lesson is involvement of more stakeholders in the course of project implementation. This is made possible through the forging of memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the assisted organizations and partner agencies and/or institutions and private groups/individuals.
  •  The local presidents as field facilitators. A complimentary initiative was entrusting to the Federation presidents the crucial role of field facilitators for the CBFM program and which was quite a successful venture for FCI as most of the federations have institutionalized the conduct of periodic monitoring and instilled in their minds that sustainably managing the affairs of member POs is a key strategy to attain all CBFM planned activities.
  • Tsunami “groundworking”. A key activity that has become an important lesson in FCI’s approaches is what is now known as “Tsunami groundworking”. This approach is a three level consultation-meeting prior to any major activity, and where processing of inputs and outputs are undertaken thereafter. This groundworking technique is very effective as it has encouraged people to actively participate in collective actions on common issues/needs and in searching for beneficial positions on the issues. The activity begins with a surfacing and discussion of the community’s concerns, interests, and positions, and usually ends with agreements on how to constructively handle possible diverging positions and problems during the succeeding meetings.
  • Project data generation and processing. In like manner, processing of any post-activity intervention has also become a valuable lesson for all project staff. Done individually or in groups depending on availability of people, this activity is an effective tool in surfacing the feelings and thoughts of people about the activity and to draw lessons from them. Because of this, the community facilitators no longer need to wait for the transition phase for conducting community evaluation and reflection activities as this has become an integral part of the organizing processes.
  • Reorientation and briefing sessions. Also worth mentioning is the conduct of reorientation-briefing of important concepts and principles, short meetings to analyze documents coming from the field, as well as regular follow-up and coaching of officers and parents in the target communities. These “repetitive and tiresome” activities greatly helped community people to internalize their roles and responsibilities, and to better understand the project as a whole.
  •  Difficulty of seeking competent resource persons. On the downside, the smooth implementation of training activities has been hindered by availability of competent resource person/s who have the passion and commitment to sustain the needs of beneficiaries. As a resolution, the Project has targeted that seeking the services of a resource person or teams of competent individuals will have to be made at least six months prior to the target date of conduct of the activity. This will allow enough time for the contracted individual or team to conduct all preparatory activities and ensure the participation of all possible stakeholders in the proposed activity.

Context analysis

 Since 1998 when FCI took off as catalyst for capacitating local farmers and poor families in CBFM sites, community residents has developed knowledge regarding local ecology, embraced the many uses of different plants and animals, and learned ways to manipulate the forest in order to optimize its availability for sustaining their families. The last two decades saw an accelerated pace in terms of the relationship between local people and the surrounding environment. The growth in population, local market needs, new technologies, and improved access has opened the gates for exploitation despite improved stewardship of the CBFM holders.

Because of this, FCI realized the need to transform the ways in which people must manage their environment where community residents become active participants in conceptualizing and operationalizing any development initiatives. Since then, FCI has been at the forefront in the conduct of trainings and seminars focusing on the basics of forest resource conservation, protection, and management, introduction of livelihood and income generation options, and formulation of relevant policies, systems and procedures that will guide them as forest protectors. FCI has also prioritized the organization of local people into association and which were later integrated into federations at the provincial level. With this setting of the foundation and the vision for a better quality of life for rural communities made clear for all beneficiaries and stakeholders, the need to institutionalize conduct of continuing education through training and education has become apparent.

FCI has selected this project because of the emerging demand for helping rural youth become productive citizens. The CBFM “pioneers” are now in their advance stage and the forest requires successors to sustain what has been initiated. Through the consultation and series of dialogue made last year, the local associations demanded the setting up of learning centers that will capacitate young people to assume the role of “second-line leaders” in CBFM areas. After all, community development through education is apt for the Filipinos.

The proposed project that involves setting up of learning center using an alternating system pedagogy has good chance of success because education is highly valued by the Filipinos; in fact, it is seen as a bridge towards progress. Moreover, education is currently one major concern of most government agencies headed by the Department of Education (DepED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Further, the experience of FCI in pursuing forest protection and management has been reaping success among upland farmers and the lowland community residents. Because of this, the concept of community-managed education and inherent concern for the environment is now being looked upon as the new model for sustaining rural development particularly in the CBFM areas not only in the Eastern Visayas region but throughout the country.

Way how the context analysis was made

Late last year (November 2012), some federation officials conducted a series of consultation dialogue to discuss plans for expanding the coverage of the existing project and to tackle issues related to youth involvement in the CBFM context. Thus, the Project team identified potential CBFM peoples’ organizations in the six provinces and this led to the conduct of series of PO-based consultation and orientation on the concept of community education as it relates to environment protection and conservation.

Review of problems, issues & concerns. During the month of April, the team used the “tsunami groundworking” technique wherein people were visited at least three times in their communities with the ultimate goal of enlightening them of the identified issue/s and thereafter guiding them towards pinpointing the most appropriate solution sets to their problems. A review of existing problems and analysis of internal and external situation provided them an account of what factors to consider in crafting their next activities. This provided them the foundation in crafting the group’s strategic development plan and the initial year’s operational plan.

Consolidation of strategic plans into one. Last May, all CBFM Federation presidents and CEFFA parents’ associations were gathered to consolidate their groups strategic development plans and to formulate a unified strategic plan that will guide them in pursuit of their aspirations in the next five years. In like manner, the tutors were also gathered to capacitate them of the task ahead once the learning centers are made operational.

Stakeholders’ Summit. In the first week of June, the Project team facilitated the conduct of a stakeholders’ summit which practically gathered in one roof all the presidents, representatives of students, parents, community facilitators including heads of government agencies as TESDA, DTI, non-government organizations, including local government units. The activity has resulted in the forging of memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the individual parents’ associations and the host of support agencies and key stakeholders. This defining moment was crucial as the beneficiaries were given assurance by key partners (such as TESDA, DTI, NGOs, etc.) of their technical support and cooperation.

Practically all organizations visited were positive in terms of accepting the relatively “new” concept of forming the rural youth through a PO-managed education system. Because of this, the parents including members of CBFM-POs decided to organize themselves and form the responsible parent association who is then tasked to manage the proposed community learning center called CEFFA. As of this writing, a total of seven parents’ association have been identified by FCI as partner for the collaboration of CBFM-CEFFA empowerment initiative. This project, when implemented, is expected to institutionalize training and education in the target rural areas.

Short analysis of the political, economic and social context

The government has provided the framework for local development by enjoining local government units to align their plans and programs and seeking the support of private institutions in the realization of the various development ideas. The on-going program such as that of the DepED’s  Alternative Delivery Mode (ADM), the DENR’s National Greening Program (NGP), the DSWD’s Conditional Cash Transfer or 4Ps are proof of  the effectiveness of this development approach.

This is a good model for the implementation of the proposed project because what is needed at the moment is to strike a balance by strengthening multi-stakeholder cooperation to promote public-private partnership towards improving the provision of services to local rural families and the youth. Under this framework, implementing agencies and local government units will be continually enabled to undertake initiatives by providing technical and capacity building support in all aspects of project development and implementation in the target sites.

As to the social, economic and political aspects, the proposed project involves empowering women and youth, increasing political voice through “good advocacy”, ensuring equal access to public services, and increasing security of property rights among the rural poor. These goals are intended to increase the individual’s human capabilities and advance the means towards a productive life.

The project, aptly called Institutionalization of Forest Management and Community Education in the provinces of Leyte, Samar & Biliran Islands” is consistent with the government’s priority programs concerning education and environment. It is believed that rural development can be facilitated by educating the people in the community with greater focus on the youth sector to ensure that second-line leaders and successors of family-based enterprises can be produced in the shortest period of time. Further, the social problem of too many unproductivity youth and young adults is a serious threat that can only be properly addressed through relevant education. Truly, the youth is the backbone of the 21st century.

 

Relevance of the project

Description of the problem and reasons why it was chosen to work on this problematic

Among the many problems identified, one is common in practically all CBFM sites. Almost all of the residents in project sites are poor as they have insufficient income, they do not have access to health care and education and most of the youths and adults in the areas are dropouts who are unschooled, unskilled and unemployed. The proposed sites are backward, underdeveloped, agricultural communities. Moreover, majority of local residents are unemployed and do not have the necessary employment and entrepreneurial skills. The CBFM-CEFFA complementation project is believed to be a key strategy as this involves the forest conservation areas and will also implement an alternative education that focus on the rural youth to help them develop their employability and entrepreneurial skills in the target sites.

In poor communities, it is a common fact that parents have lost their desire/interest to send their children to school. As a result, the youth do not have competencies to compete in the world of work and this has greatly contributed to the absence of productive activities of people in the target community. While the CBFM program provides the backdrop for improving the quality of life in the locality this has not been explored by the local constituents. In fact, majority of the youth would rather spend time in cheap internet shops than attending high school. As young adults are not able to finish at least a high school education, the family suffers difficulties in sustaining their needs due to limited income. The serious consequence results to lack of food of majority of rural families, proliferation of unproductive youth (Tambay), and abject poverty of community residents. The CBFM-CEFFA empowerment initiative is expected to play a key role towards overturning the dismal situation in the target localities.

Geographical location of the project

The Philippines is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, its capital city is Manila and is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It is divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 138 cities, 1,496 municipalities, and 42,025 barangays. The proposed Project is to be located in the Eastern Visayas region.

The Philippines’ rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. Endemic species include the Tamaraw of Mindoro, the Visayan spotted deer, the Philippine mouse deer, the Visayan warty pig, the Philippine flying lemur, and several species of bats.

Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70% of the country’s total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999. Many species are endangered and scientists say that the Philippines faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the 20th century. According to Conservation International, “the country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation.”

 

The proposed Project sites

Eastern Visayas or Region VIII is composed of two main islands, Leyte and Samar, connected by the famous San Juanico Bridge. It consists of six provinces and seven cities, namely, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar, Southern Leyte, the cities of Ormoc City, Baybay City, Maasin City, Calbayog City, Catbalogan City, Borongan City and the highly-urbanized city of Tacloban, the regional center. These provinces and cities occupy the easternmost islands of Visayas: Samar, Leyte and Biliran.

Eastern Visayas directly faces the Pacific Ocean. It lies on the east central part of the Philippines archipelago. It is bounded by Philippine sea on the east and north with San Bernardo Strait separating Samar island from southeastern Luzon: Camotes sea and Visayas sea on the west: Bohol sea on the south with Surigao Strait separating Leyte island from northwestern Mindanao. It has a total land area of 2,156,285 hectares or 7.2% of the country’s total land area. As of 2010, it has a population of 3,912,936.

Climate. There are two types of climate prevailing in Eastern Visayas under the Corona system of classification: Type II and Type IV. Type II climate is characterizes by having no dry season but a pronounced maximum rainfall from November to January. Samar Island and the eastern part of Leyte Island fall under this type of climate. Type IV on the other hand has an even distribution of rainfall the year round and a short period of dry season that can be observed starting February up to May.

Culture. Waray-Waray is spoken on the island of Samar, Biliran and north-eastern Leyte. A Samar language, distantly related to the languages of the region, called Abaknon is spoken in the island of Capul in Northern Samar. Cebuano is spoken in western, central, and southern parts of Leyte and in Southern Leyte.

Tinikling, the Philippines’ national dance is folkdance that originated from the region. But the most popular cultural dance among Warays is the Curacha, danced during feast celebrations and special gatherings. The Leyte Kalipayan Dance Company, a local cultural group, held highly successful performances around the world.

Waray people are music lovers whose folkloric music are mostly ballads in form, famous of which is “Dandansoy” while “Iroy nga Tuna” (Motherland) is a patriotic song.

Economy. Primary sources of revenue are manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and services. Mining, farming, fishing and tourism contribute significantly to the economy Manufacturing firms include mining companies, fertilizer plants, sugar central, rice and corn mills and other food processing plants. Tacloban is the hub of investment, trade and development in the region. Other industries include mining, rice, corn and sugar milling, coconut oil extraction, alcohol distilling, beverage manufacture and forest products. Home industries include hat and basket weaving, metal craft, needlecraft, pottery, ceramics, woodcraft, shell craft and bamboo craft.

Education. Eastern Visayas is home to several state universities, including the prominent University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV Tacloban College). The region is also home to the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP), located in Catarman, Northern Samar, which holds the most number of baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate courses among universities in the region. The Visayas State University is located in Baybay City.

The Eastern Visayas State University is Leyte’s state university with five extension campuses. Southern Leyte State University with five extension campuses is the only state university in the province of Southern Leyte. In Biliran, Naval State University is the province state university. For Eastern Samar, the Eastern Samar State University is the only state university of the province with a single extension campus while Samar State University is Western Samar’s state university with two extension campuses. For normal education, the Leyte Normal University specializes in education courses.

Transportation. The region’s Leyte and Samar islands serve as main link between Luzon and Mindanao by land transport. A total of nine airports, are strategically located in different parts of the six provinces that comprise the region. Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City is the main gateway by air to the region. There are seaports in Tacloban, Catbalogan, Calbayog, Borongan, Ormoc, Bato, Maasin, Sogod and Naval.

Energy. The region is the top producer of geothermal energy supply in the country. The province of Leyte hosts the biggest geothermal plant in the Philippines. Still, geothermal exploration is on-going in the nearby province of Biliran. With abundance of river system, the region has potential in hydroelectric production. Being coastal facing Pacific Ocean, the region has location being eyed for wind power generation. The strait of San Juanico between Leyte and Samar islands has been declared as potential source for water current and tidal energy sources.

 

Description of the target communities and final beneficiaries

The target communities are located in CBFM areas teeming with activities related to farming and small family enterprises. Generally, majority of the families in target sites are poor and have limited resources to warrant a modest living standard. Among the more important activities aside from securing the family’s livelihood and food sustenance is forest protection and management. There are now organized groups in the project sites: the CBFM-POs which is composed of upland farmers whose primary responsibility is protecting, conserving, and managing forest resources, and the CEFFA parents’ association whole immediate task is the establishment of community-based secondary learning centers to cater to rural youth.

Among the final beneficiaries include poor farming families and rural youth. The generally poor households have limited income opportunities owing to a lot of factors surrounding their everyday lives. Among others, major constraint to agricultural production is the high cost of agricultural and fishery inputs. In terms of capital, there are several microfinance institutions and agencies providing livelihood funds but the poor credit worthiness and bankability of farmers and individuals render them disqualified to avail of the needed capital. High interest rate is also a deterrent. Most households in the target sites lack the entrepreneurial spirit, thus are not keen about engaging in business.

As to the rural youth, participation rate, completion rate, dropout rate, and NAT achievement rate were short of the targets set for 2010. The biggest shortfalls are in the secondary participation rate and the NAT Achievement rate, which are 11.79% and 19.75% below the targets, respectively. Dropout rate both in the elementary and high school are also way below the targets. Thus, majority of youth do not have the competencies to become employed or self-employed.

 

Did the identification and elaboration of the project made in a participative manner?

The high poverty incidence ( 32.1 to 60%) in Eastern Visayas is obvious because poorest 20 municipalities are located in the three Samar Island provinces. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), poverty incidence has increased in four of the six provinces as of last year’s first semester survey. A minimum wage earner in the Eastern Visayas receives P7,800 monthly, below than the per capita poverty threshold of P8,989 set by the NSCB. Underemployment has been a problem even among youth. In fact, more males than females are underemployed. Truly, Eastern Visayas is still far from attaining the 2011 MDG target of 26.3% where the magnitude of food-poor population cannot even meet the basic food requirements.

Because of the deteriorating situation and the apparent demand for solutions from among the generally poor families in the target sites, community leaders and development workers have initiated consultation meetings and similar activities. These small group discussion and meetings, usually presided by officers of the CBFM peoples’ organizations, were made in a participative and “bottoms-up” manner. Believing that there is strength in unity, the families gathered and organized themselves into association. With technical assistance from a community organizer, these groups of parents formulated their strategic plans to guide their officers and members. Use of participatory planning exercises became standard procedure to ensure ownership of whatever decisions and undertaking they may have arrived. In all the target sites, stakeholdership was also strictly observed. The people realized they cannot achieve their vision of improved productivity all by themselves. Thus, aside from the DENR and local government units at all levels, the proponent organizations embraced such agencies as DepED, TESDA, DTI, DA, ATI, as well as those of the church and the business sector.

 

Synergies

The government, through the DepED, TESDA, DTI, DENR, DAR, DA, DSWD, among others, has been at the forefront in its advocacy for people to create a healthy environment and to fully support the campaign for “education for all” in order to improve employability and productivity particularly in rural areas. This is apparent not only among government line agencies but with political groups/partylist that include as mandates the universal call for young people to acquire education and for everyone to be supportive of sustaining a healthy environment. Local government units at the provincial, municipal and barangay level are also trying their best to become active participants in this relevant undertaking. Thus, committees and special groups have been created and these can become partners of the organizations and parents’ associations in target sites.

On the economic side, the target locations are teeming with poor households there is an urgent need to help them create opportunities for improving their situation. While the CBFM agreement is still active, the local peoples’ organization has been very careful in their desire to utilize forest resources and this made them miss the golden opportunity to set up their own family-based enterprises with support from the CBFM peoples’ organizations. With project interventions targeting not only the upland farmer-members of organized groups but to also involve the youth sector and other families in the target areas, productivity and improvement in the family’s income generation activities will be given utmost focus.

The Project is believed to be a key strategy that will help address the growing social problem of the youth sector and of their respective families and the communities where they belong. When properly implemented, the peoples’ organizations including the responsible association of parents can be assured that young people will have easier access to a relevant education through the CEFFA learning centers that will be owned and managed by community residents. Unproductivity among youth and the lack of opportunities of family members will become a “thing of the past”.

 

Synergies:  Local actors: Local civil society and public authorities, including decentralised

  1.  CBFM Peoples’ Organizations: to protect, conserve, and manage forest resources
  2. CEFFA Parents’ Associations: to operate and manage the youth learning centers
  3. CBFM & CEFFA Federations: to ensure participation and involvement of member-association in plans/programs for forest management and community education
  4. Barangay LGUs: to guide the proper allocation of resources to ensure improvements in the welfare of our local people
  5. Municipal LGUs: to direct efforts in protecting the environment, reducing climate and disaster risks, promoting good governance and ensuring peace and stability
  6. Provincial LGU: to provide financial and technical assistance in support of priority development goals and objectives of municipal and barangay LGUs
  7. DENR, DepED, TESDA, DTI, DA, DAR, DOST, DSWD, DOLE: to ensure that mandated program and projects are properly and adequately implemented in target communities, groups, and sectors
  8. Non-government organizations (NGOs): to provide capacity building and ensure participation and involvement of local communities in the development agenda of the government

 

Description

The local actors in this initiative include all assisted peoples’ organizations and parents’ association in the target localities. They are composed of upland farmers, fisherfolks, and ordinary parents of youth intending to enrol in the CEFFA, as well as the federation of CBFM organizations, and the federation of all CEFFA parents’ associations.

The local government units at the barangay, municipal, and provincial levels are expected to play key roles as providers of financial and technical support to the individuals, organizations/associations, and the federations. The Special Education Funds (SEF) may now be utilized as most BLGU officials are not aware of how to make full use of this resource. Similarly, the municipal LGU may be tapped to create a committee that will prioritize the provision of all support possible to properly implement initiatives of the proposed project. On the other hand, the provincial local government units have resources that are aligned with the major needs of people in the project sites. They are expected to create more opportunities by tapping their existing national and international networks and linkages.

All government agencies whose mandates include enhancing productivity through the creation of jobs and employment opportunties, improving delivery of basic socio-economic services, and pursuing positive economic growth, environment protection, and community education initiatives carry a vital role in the implementation of this three-year Project.

 

Analysis of the ways used to strengthen their capacities

The past engagements of the Project virtually provided the key beneficiaries and stakeholders’ opportunities for strengthening their capacities to improve participation in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of community initiatives, and in the delivery of services. This was made through the various capability building activities, trainings and seminars facilitated by the Project.

Among others, project beneficiaries were afforded formation and training on values education, organizational development and management, livelihood and enterprise skills development, as well as business planning and creation of group enterprise projects. Of equal importance were the conduct of such activities as stakeholders’ conferences that motivate government key officials to pursue their mandates and in effect made their presence felt at the community level. The numerous meetings and community-based dialogues were instrumental in the realization of small wins and successes by people in rural areas. The forging of memorandum of agreement (MOA) and similar documents are indeed the product of painstaking efforts created by the synergy of the beneficiaries and stakeholders in pursuit of the aspirations and dreams of the rural communities.

 

Foreign or international actors

  1.  Plan International: provides support to ensuring a world where children needs and interest are met and bringing them into adulthood with lifelong skills
  2. World Vision: provides funding support for community development initiatives in poverty-stricken localities
  3. GIZ (German Technical Cooperation): provides technical support to upland farmers and holders of tenurial intruments in forest areas
  4. CODESPA: advocates of community development initiatives in poor communities
  5. AIMFR: provides all possible technical and financial support to existing Federation of CEFFA associations throughout the world
  6. Asia Forest Network: supports the role of communities in protection and sustainable use of natural forests
  7. Community Forestry International: assists rural communities to stabilize and regenerate forests by providing support to resident resource managers
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