DISOP Philippines

Programs for Advancement and Growth in Good Governance, Sustained Improvements in Resource-Based Livelihood and Balanced Environment (PAGGSIRBE)


Dinagat Island Development Foundation, Inc. San Jose, Province of Dinagat Islands, Philippines

DIDF is a non-government non-profit organization who started serving the disadvantaged communities of Dinagat Islands since its incorporation in the year 2001. At present, there are already 37 barangays that were provided development interventions in the areas of livelihood and agriculture, environment, water systems, linkage-building, and institutional development services in general. We had been partners with Government for projects implemented in Dinagat Islands (DAR, DOLE, DSWD, DOST, DA, BFAR & LGUs) and received support from PhilGERFund, AusAID- PACAP, LWR, and DISOP-Phils.

Historic of the Relationship with DISOP 

DIDF’s first partnership with DISOP was in the year 2008 for the project entitled “Melgar Bay Development Project for Grassroots Coastal Communities – Phase I” (2008-2010) and the second and current partnership is for the project entitled “Melgar Bay Development Project for Grassroots Coastal Communities – Phase II” (2011-2013).

Integration of lessons learned from the previous project

Lessons learned from previous projects:

  • Trainings provided should be matched with appropriate financing scheme. Close working relationships between and among organizers, technical service providers, and financing partners is a must for the target beneficiaries get the most from the project.
  • The value chain approach encourages more participants in economic activities because even small producers and traders can participate. Social enterprises for the organization is also better using the value chain approach as it can help members join resources to a good market for their products.
  • Savings mobilization is always a good strategy for individuals and POs leading them out of poverty.
  • Sustainability plans must always be formulated and integrated at the start of the project implementation. Example: The leaders and managers of the POs are always replaced so that we need to identify second line persons who can be trained and exposed to the duties and responsibilities as early as it is practicable.
  • People in the community in general are more likely to remember projects with some physical ‘infrastructures’ such as water systems and marine/mangrove sanctuaries.

How do we integrate the lessons learned to the proposed project?

  • Arrangements will be made with the financing institution that will handle our credit fund so that they will put priority on the loan applications of the persons that we trained; also, we will focus our trainings on the industries that we are supporting.
  • We will focus on the products value chain support for the PO members.
  • Savings mobilization shall be a generic strategy for all POs and projects to be assisted.
  • Sustainability planning will be done in year one and monitored regularly.
  • We included more water systems and protected areas establishment in this proposal.

Context Analysis

The formulation of the proposed project plan was started in a planning by the DIDF Board of Trustees and Management team in late December 2011 where  the DIDF Strategic Development plan entitled ‘The DisCIPLES’ was reviewed and prepared for presentation in the June 2012 DIDF Anuual Meeting.  The 5 – year DIDF Strategic Development Plan entitled ‘The DisCIPLES’ was approved by the majority of active members in attendance. Institutional goals were then set by the management and the Board.

When the Foundation decided to submit a proposal for Phase III engagement with DISOP, a two-week activity was undertaken to  involve all the stakeholders of DIDF including the representatives from the selected partner LGUs—Dinagat and Basilisa – the project areas. The undertaking was simple and anchored on the careful assessment of the development potentials and needs the selected barangays in the municipalities, the data collected from municipal officials and the reviewed capacities of DIDF.  Therefore, the results became the primary reference for the plan which defined the realistic engagements of DISOP in the province especially the management of various development projects that would be initiated by DIDF in the future.

The design of the activity was anchored on the basic question “what can realistically be done in the Province of Dinagat Islands given the socio-cultural, economic, political and environmental conditions and current capacities of DIDF in the next five year?” Therefore, the Board of Trustees decided that the objectives of the strategic planning should be the following:

  1. Improved their understanding of the different conditions of the covered communities particularly on the agriculture, livelihood, environmental and governance and others which would stand as the basis for analysis of the overall conditions of the covered communities;
  2. Revisited and confirmed the overall Vision-Mission-Goal statements of DIDF in relation to the organizational structure, management approaches, programs, organizational strategies, and projects;
  3. Identified realistic development projects that are aligned with the DIDF programme strategies and to the development programs of the local government;
  4. Determined new development initiatives that would further define the sustainability of DIDF; and
  5. Designed a 5-year strategic plan through a write shop including the implementation plan with indicative budgets and other requirements.

After two weeks of work, the team came out with the final outputs as follow: (i) a systematic   and realistic analysis of the different conditions of the covered areas; (ii) a logical framework; (iii) a problem and objective tree diagram, and (iv) a 5-year operational plan and indicative budget of all the components. The BOT, the Management Team together with the other stakeholders decided to name the entire strategic Plans as Programs for Advancement and Growth in Good Governance, Sustained Improvements in Resource-Based Livelihood and Balanced Environment or PAGGSIRBE.


Description of the Overall Geographic Context

Since the inception of Dinagat Islands as a province, many of its socio-cultural, economic, political and environmental conditions present a unique challenge to development. Compared to other budding provinces in Mindanao, in almost all aspects, its development requires strategies and approaches that need to respond to its special circumstances.  The LGUs and the CSOs have already provided attention on the circumstances but all of these appear to be a burgeoning challenge for those that are concerned about the progress of the province. DIDF on the other hand, is continuously looking for the “best mix” of development endeavors that are cost-efficient, effective, high impact, relevant and sustainable.

The partnership of DIDF-DISOP has already developed strategies for operations in several barangays under different development projects including MBDP GrassComm Phase I.  Through time, it was observed, however, that while there are differences in the progress of the different barangays, there are also many commonalities not only in terms of the progress but mainly in the strategies and approaches in responding to poverty.  As a learning experience, DIDF thought of focusing the development initiatives and geographic areas to be more effective in the use of the limited resources.  Hence, the Board of Trustees (BOT), management staff, and its stakeholders decided to develop a strategic plan covering only two municipalities with the end result of extending the development impact to the entire province in the future.

Existing Conditions of the Province

Conceptual and ocular survey of the different conditions of the communities particularly the environmental, social, economic, political, and cultural are crucial factors in the formation of program ideas.  The present conditions of the province provided a clear understanding of the life of its constituent communities and how the limited resources affected the lives of the people in the context of the poverty and standard of living. The results of the analysis presented various scenarios especially the potentials, opportunities, problems and needs.

Realities presented that the province is relatively endowed with rich natural resources but the living standards of many people are still in the sticky conditions of poverty.  The overall picture is often inconsistent because poverty, unemployment, ill-health and inadequate educational services in 75% of its Barangays have been misreported in the midst of the swamp of problems experienced by the people in the province.  This situation is now threatening the overall development of the province.  The pockets of environmental degradation; improper solid waste disposal; illegal marine resources exploitation; poor levels of agricultural production; and lack of sustainable livelihood coupled with the poor choices of livelihood enterprise; and the low influx of foreign aid and development assistance.

The different barangays are vulnerable as well.  Their progress is still dependent on the IRA and trade flows.  Actions by the LGUs so that the farmers and fisherfolk are given the opportunity to sell their products to a bigger market in other neighboring provinces like Surigao City, Cebu or Leyte are very inadequate if not non-existent. Thus, the motivation of the farmers to produce more and varied agricultural products has decreased even with the most salable products.

Most of the barangays are coastal and located in flood and landslide prone areas and they are also highly vulnerable to disasters.  While such hazards and risks are not confined to the province alone, for a province that is 85% landslide susceptible (DENR, 2009), a couple of typhoons and heavy rains may destroy a significant portion of its denuded mountains that may cause massive loss of human lives. Inadequate and safe inland and water transportation system in most of the barangays, is also a major problem. While Dinagat is identified for such environmental risks, the province still has no capability to detect changes in its meteorological conditions. Post disaster management measures have also been inexistent. In fact, the province does not have updated facilities and equipment that would help detect climatic changes and help manage vulnerability.  Inaccessibility and availability of potable water is prevalent in over 60% of the settlement areas.

The province falls under climate type II characterized by no pronounced dry season but with a very pronounced maximum rainfall period from November to January. It has a total annual rainfall of 2,830.60 meters from the 204 rainy days. Temperature ranges from a low of 23.9 degrees Celsius in January to a high of 33.06 degree Celsius in September. The average annual minimum and maximum temperature in 2004 measures to 25.30 degrees Celsius and 31.06 degrees Celsius respectively. As of 2006, the average annual humidity is 81% and the average wind velocity is one (1) meter per second.  With these meteorological conditions, they are also visited by two to three major typhoons per year.  Earthquake are not very common but they were affected by the latest earthquake. In March 2012, the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that struck Dinagat Islands left the province with about 60 damaged houses and several casualties.

Economically, the performance of the different municipalities has been generally unsatisfactory in spite of the production of minerals such as nickel, gold and chromite.  Critical investments on education and health services are rather neglected at the expense of investments to improve the economy and social development of the province.  This has even challenged the capacity for the fishery and mining sector to produce and invest in mechanisms to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the people.

Realities of the Priority Areas: Municipalities of Dinagat and Basilisa

Historically, the Municipalities of Dinagat and Basilisa—which from hereunto be called   “target area”, have a lot of commonalities in terms of development since they are the growth areas of Dinagat islands even when the island was still an integral part of Surigao del Norte. In terms of land area, the municipality of Dinagat has a total area of 3,287 hectares while Basilisa is 9,268.36 hectares based on the data taken from the Municipal offices. Both program areas have a total of 12,555.36 hectares which is 13% of the total land area (96,745.85 hectares) of the province.

Both program areas also have similar characteristics in terms of demographic, socio-cultural, economic, political development because most of the Barangays in both areas are geographically coastal thus, accessible to other growth areas from the capital town–San Jose and Surigao del Norte the nearest economic growth areas. However there are 27 barangays in Basilisa while only 12 barangays in Dinagat where 15% of the Barangays are located in the uplands.

Important Demographic Conditions

As of 2006, the PPDO reported that the Municipalities of Basilisa and Dinagat have a total population of 41,184 as shown in Table 1 below. This is contained in 6,393 households with an average size of 6 persons. It was claimed during the assessment that the men are more than the women population. Hence, many people claimed that the population in the target municipalities has increased over the last five years. Although there were people who claimed that there was an increasing trend, they did not exactly know the reasons of the increase.

When probed further, it was found out that over fifty four percent believes that the increases over time was caused by migration from other places to the province of Dinagat Islands as shown in Table 2 below.

Although there was also an increase caused by birth due to early marriages and families not using any planning methods, the increase was just smaller in number compared to the increase through migration. This increase was also explained as caused by influenced by relatives and friends who found that the forest and coastal resources in Dinagat and Basilisa can also support a family and it is peaceful.  It is noteworthy, that some respondents (Rs) were saying that the increase in number might not be the exact figure because this was only used for the data base needed in the CBMS to justify the population size of the province.

It is also important to note that the older persons and the under 6 children are only 10% of the total population in both target municipalities. The youth and children also compose about 10-20 % of the total population. The distribution of the population by age group is within the normal pattern except the distribution which has slightly higher in number of females than males.

When the respondents (Rs) were asked about the critical problems related to the population, almost all the respondents (Rs) claimed that there were problems as shown in Table 3 below.  The data confirms that migration has been common. Outmigration for those seeking employment while in-migration for those influence by friends, relatives and families to stay in the target municipalities. Just below fourteen percent (13.63%) felt that there were problems both in the health facilities and services, and family planning. There were also respondents (Rs) who mentioned about the lack of employment because of the lack of capacity (4.54%) and there were several women who are not engaged in productive employment (4.54%). The data is indicative that the growing population has to be organized to respond to the critical issues.

Disadvantaged and Unserved Sectors In The Community

With regards to the most disadvantaged and undeserved sector in the communities, the Rs identified that the women, youth and farmer Rs in that order of the priority, are the most underserved and disadvantaged sectors. It is rather surprising that the only very few Rs felt that the older persons and children are also undeserved sector. It is also undertandable that many activities are focused on the fisherfolk sector because most of the people are engaged in fishing but it was observed that the services for this sector is still not enough for the communities to rely on for a more sustainable livelihood.

Most of the Rs confirmed that there are reasons why the women, farmers, and the youth are the most disadvantaged and undeserved sectors.  Table 5 below reveals that about 36% of the Rs claimed that these sectors lack livelihood and financial support from the LGUs and other agencies especially the women and the farmers.  About 18% of the Rs also felt that the government has not given priority to the children and youth in terms of development programs. The local officials interviewed also confirmed these reasons are true but they explained further that the budget of the LGUs is limited because the IRA is also small and most of these are for infrastructure and payment for services in the operation of the LGUs.

Other reasons forwarded were: no proper management among the women groups, children are neglected by working parents, and lack of participation in community activities.  The later reason was also confirmed with the other POs in other communities because they felt that having development programs was hindering their daily income generating activities.  It was also observed in many of the previous activities that participation in development activities are always high in the beginning of the project then it slowly fades down up to five to ten persons per meeting or activities.  When probe further what are the reason for non-participation, the people always claim that they have other important things to do.

Furthermore, the lack of livelihood and financial assistance from the government can be needs to be further studied because in many cases, the livelihood and financial assistance that the Rs were saying are those that are dole outs. The government does not offer a free assistance scheme anymore for livelihood because experiences reveal that this scheme is not sustainable. Therefore, the government is now offering soft loan to insure that the capital are properly managed.

Educational Capability

Educational capability is the level of knowledge, attitude and skills acquired from formal schooling often measured by educational levels from kindergarten up to post graduate degrees which are practiced in their specific field of endeavor.  When the Rs were asked about the percentage of the population who had basic elementary education, over half of Rs believes that between 60-80% have completed elementary education.  About 30-40% has completed high school and only about 5% have taken a 2-year or 4-year college courespondents (Rs)es.  There were many Rs who claimed that that are very few people have gone for Masteral degree.  All these data were also confirmed by the data taken from the municipal development plan of Dinagat and Basilisa for 2010-2013.

Although most of the people in both target municipalities have gone to formal schooling, they still cannot be considered educationally capable since most of them have not been practicing what they have learned in school.  In fact, some of them have also forgotten how to write their names and basic sentences.  Generally the people who have gone to school only a few have practiced what they have learned in school.  It is likewise interesting to note that among the school age groups (6-21 yearespondents (Rs) old), the Respondents (Rs) perceived that more than half are in school at present as shown in Figure 2 below.  Although exact data were not available during the time of the assessment, it was reported by the Respondents (Rs) that there are many school age groups that are not presently in school.  There are two major reasons for this: (i) the parents have low financial capacity to send the children to school and (ii) there are not very many opportunities that the school age children can access to be able to attend school.

This means that there are still a lot of school age children who are not in school and very little opportunity has been provided for them to access different types of educational opportunities.  Perhaps the level of capability on education can also be explained by the performance in the delivery of educational services in the community as shown in Figure 3 below.

Almost sixty percent (59.1%) of the people believes that the performance in delivering the educational services in the community still needs improvement.  Only 13.6% feels that it is already good.  They rated the delivery of services that way because of reasons that the financial support provided to the students is not enough for the food, school expenses especially for high school and college; and many schools lacks school facilities and supplies such as computers, classrooms, books and other reading materials as shown in Table 6 below.

There were also a few Rs who noticed that there are also not enough responsible and capable teachers, and poor accessibility going to school because of poor roads, and campus of the school is isolated. Overall, it can be mentioned here that the latter problems can be tolerable but the lack of school facilities and supplies and financial support should be considered as a factor that affects poor performance of both the educational service providers and the students.

Health Services

Another important social service is the provision of the health services among the different sectors of the communities.  It was reported by the different Respondents (Rs) that health services are provided to children, youth, adult women and men and older perespondents (Rs)ons.  However, they claimed that only about 30-40% of the each sector are being serve by the health services. About forty one percent (40.9%) thought that the health services needs improvement while five percent (4.5%) believes that the health services are excellently provided.  While many of the Rs believe that the health services needs improvements.  Instead of pointing onto the causes of the weaknesses, the Rs suggested the following:

  1. Provide additional supplies of medicines and make these available when it is needed;
  2. Provided health facilities & equipments (birthing & dental facilities, health centers, and mobile service-ambulance [land/sea])
  3. Have permanent health personnel (Doctors), midwife, BHWs) and provide quality health services.

Satisfaction of the Current Living Conditions

Although the level of satisfaction on the current living condition is a relative measure for the quality of life of the people in the community, it is important indicator to determine the level of motivation and interest of people in pursuing different development endeavors. Among the Rs, an average of 56.34% believe that the family members are not satisfied with their present living conditions while the rest are satisfied as shown in Table 7 below.

For those who mentioned that several community sectors were satisfied with their living conditions, it was found out that they had a regular source of income from different livelihood.  It can also be interpreted that the sectors that were perceived to be not satisfied with their present living conditions are those sector that have not received attention or sufficient services from the local government.  Therefore, the tendency is for these groups to feel that their living condition is a bit difficult. In fact, it was reported earlier that these Rs would like to have livelihood engagements and financial support from the local government.

Moreover, when the Rs were asked about how many percent are well-off, moderately well-off and not-well off in their community, they responded that are about 15%, 46-60%, and 31-45% people that belongs to such categories respectively. Meaning, the people in the selected municipalities are moderately well-off and are not necessarily poor because only 4.5% mentioned that many people are not well off.

Table 8 below shows the factors that contributed to the current well-being of the people in the selected priority municipality. The conditions of their well-being at the moment may be classified as improving and has stagnated because of many reasons.  Most of the Rs believes that the lack of job opportunities because of insufficient knowledge, skills and capabilities. Many respondents were also seeing the government program (DSWD-4Ps) as one contributor of their present well-being.

There were also a number of Rs who claimed that the people were provided agricultural and aqua-fishery inputs and livelihood engagements and budgeting was introduced especially the ways to provide for the needs of the family.  There were also alternative livelihood trainings that were provided to the project beneficiaries hence it became the take-off point for the development of their current well-being.

Governance System

In the political milieu, the municipality is headed by an elected mayor together with 12 Municipal councilors. The Barangays are headed by the Chairman together with 12 barangay councilors.  Currently the political classification of the municipality of Dinagat is 5th class while Basilisa is classified as 4th class municipality. This means that these municipalities have not yet fully complied with the basic standards and requirements of a municipality as defined under the Department of Interior and Local Government. This is not a major concern of both municipalities covered but it is a significant factor in the acquisition of financial resources for the national governments and overseas development assistance.

The LGUs of both Dinagat and Basilisa have been serving its constituents for several years now.  There were several local leaders who also eventually became local chief executive of the municipalities that are covered by this strategic concept.  Over the years, there were programs that were already implemented however the effectiveness and efficiency are still being determined.  The people in these municipalities are still trying to access for support from the local government for their livelihood engagements. When the people were asked about the performance of the local government units most of them still believes that the performance still needs improvement as shown in Table 9 below.  Quite a number of the respondents believe that the performance is acceptable and already good enough. It was observed that the local government has several programs for development but they are mainly for infrastructure and not focused on the livelihood of people. Many of these programs are intended to make the services more accessible to the people in the community. (Please See Table 9 In Annex D.)

The perception of the people is based on the benefits that the people received over the last few years. Their experience was able to formulate some suggestions on how they are able to improve the services of the local government as well as the private sector and the non-government organizations. Most of the suggestions are focused on the provisions of technical and financial assistance so that the people are able to establish sustainable livelihood engagements.

The overall observations from several social, economic, political and environmental aspects of the municipalities covered in the formulation of the strategic concept fall on the following needs and problems:

  1. Demographically, the population of these target areas are increasing and the pressures on the local resources are also intensifying which has resulted to different types of livelihood engagements including illegal activities like charcoal making, lumbering, unacceptable fishing practices, and small scale mining;
  2. Outmigration of women to look for job opportunities because the job opportunities in the locality is limited to ambulant vending and farm or fishing labor;
  3. The most disadvantaged and undererved sector in terms of development initiatives are the women, youth and farmers.
  4. There are many school age children who has not enrolled in formal school because of the lack of opportunities to access support to improve the educational capability;
  5. There is a lack of livelihood engagements in the priority municipalities;
  6. Many of the families are not satisfied with their current well-being because they do not have stable livelihood engagements or employments; and
  7. The government has not provided enough technical and financial support in the barangays covered by the priority municipalities.


Relevance of the Project

The very low family income in the target communities impedes these families’ way out of poverty. Here, poverty is manifested in ways such as that

  • More children work in hazardous conditions such as small-scale mining, fishing without safety gears, charcoal making, firewood gathering for sale, cutting of trees including manual transport of sawn lumber, charcoal and firewood from the forest, birds nest gathering, quarry of sand and gravel. These children are supposed to be in school but they either dropped out or unable to continue because of insufficient support from home.
  •  Some families resort to illegal activities such as poaching and illegal fishing, illegal logging for construction, charcoal and firewood, illegal mining of gold and chromite, illegal quarry of sand and gravel because they cannot find employment that would satisfy at least their basic needs. More of these individuals were not able to have proper schooling or technical trainings to make them qualify for employment.
  • More adults remained dependent on their core family for basic needs. They are generally physically and mentally unfit to work. In some stages of their lives they were malnourished and sickly because of food shortage at home.
  • More families live in unsafe, unhealthy, and insecure environment/situation. They are exposed to dust and noise from mining operations. Many are located in areas prone to landslides, storm surges, and flooding. They do not own the land they till or where their houses are built. Their garbage is not collected/not properly disposed and houses badly need repairs. They have no investments for the future and depend on loans to meet extra or unexpected needs of the family.
  • The cycle of corruption and impassive response of the community to important issues and concerns remain powerful. Many families are unmindful of their civic responsibilities, awareness is low, and participation in community actions is also low. More parents/guardians neglect moral and spiritual guidance at home so that individual members are easily corrupted and bribed especially during elections and transacting business with the government.


The local actors that are expected to work with us are the following:

  •  BLGUs of the 15 target communities. The barangay councils are direct participants in the establishment of protected areas and water system projects in their respective areas. They will be providing cash counterpart contribution to the project and will become a party to the stewardship contract for the protected areas and water system projects. Initially, they are to participate in the orientation on the final project design, in the formation and planning activities for the establishment, operation, and maintenance of the water systems and the protected areas.
  • MLGUs of Basilisa and Dinagat. The municipal governments will be providing cash counterpart contribution to the project and will become a party to the stewardship contract for the protected areas and water system projects. The legislative branch shall also authorize thru an ordinance the protection of specific mangrove forests and eco-parks in the barangays within their jurisdiction. An orientation on the final project design shall be conducted for them separately.
  • The Congressional Office of Cong. Arlene Bag-ao. The project proponent shall submit a request for local counterpart contribution. The Congresswoman shall also be informed on the details of the proposed project.
  • Department of Science and Technology (DOST) provides technical and materials assistance to livelihood projects.
  • Department of Labor and employment (DOLE) provides technical and materials assistance to livelihood projects.
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provides financing to livelihood projects thru Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
  • Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provides technical and materials assistance to livelihood projects and marketing of products.
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provides technical and materials assistance to natural resources conservation projects.
  • Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) provides technical and materials assistance to fishery projects.
  • Department of Agrioculture (DA) provides technical and materials assistance to agri-fishery projects
  • The Melgar Bay Federation of Farmers and Fisherfolk is expected to actively participate in the local industries that would be supported by this project.

The local credit cooperative who will manage our credit fund shall focus on the needs of our project beneficiaries in the project area by matching their financing with the technical trainings that we are providing to the POs.

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