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Community-Based Approaches to Development
Province of Negros Oriental

For years now, the province of Oriental Negros has been initiating successful programs that have been benefiting and empowering its 1.2-million population. These programs have been so successful that the province has been consistently bagging awards and recognitions.

The latest of these awards is the 2005 Award for Continuing Excellence (ACE), the top recognition conferred by the Gawad Galing Pook, to recognize the local government unit’s (LGU) successful initiatives in addressing agricultural production, healthcare and coastal resource management concerns.

Encouraging the young to fish and farm

The youth in Negros, even those from farming families, have grown leery of tilling the soil. They have opted to seek factory or office-based jobs rather than farm. This trend has the potential of creating problems for the province. Thus, the Gulayan at Palaisdaan Alay sa Kabataan (GPAK) or Vegetable Farms and Fisheries for the Youth program was created to address this concern. It was launched in March 2002 by Gov. George Arnaiz and has helped increase agricultural production, and reduce poverty and hunger by maximizing the productivity of school gardens.

The program aimed to: provide schools additional income and supply of vegetables and fish for the feeding program; serve as vehicle for relevant education of children and their family; complement the government’s goal for food production to attain sustainable agriculture; and enhance the socio-cultural well-being of the people and the community.

Because of the clear benefits, the program was warmly embraced by the stakeholders—the schools, students, and parents. Thus, from a total of 1,456 hectares before GPAK was launched, the area devoted to vegetable farms increased by 139.31 hectares with the inclusion of idle school lots. This translated into a 9.7% contribution to the province’s total vegetable area and about 8.4% or 668 metric tons in production. The program also added 8% to the tilapia production in the province with the establishment of 23 ponds. In the last three years, the province’s total tilapia production was 49 metric tons (MT), with GPAK production accounting for 3.98 MT.

The availability of fresh vegetables and fish benefited the school-feeding program, minimizing school expenses by up to 40%. Most importantly, this reduced malnutrition among school pupils from 39.21% in SY 2002-03 down to 22.90% in SY 2004-05.

For the schools, the program generated a total of PhP1.670 million during the project’s first three years. The amount helped the schools fund the improvement of their facilities and other gardening needs.

GPAK also helped preserve and improve the environment through the promotion of organic vegetable production with the use of compost, vermin-compost and vermin-casts, and natural farming technology systems.

The program also helped promote people empowerment with the formation, strengthening and institutionalization of people’s organizations and community-based structures, such as the formation of the Young Farmers and Young Savers Clubs. It also strengthened and actively involved the Parents Teachers Community Association and barangay councils. Eventually, other organizations volunteered their services (such as the Karancho, an association of habal-habal or motorbikes for hire, which offered to haul compost and organic materials).

Improving agricultural service delivery

Another agricultural initiative, the Barangay Agricultural Development Center (BADC), launched in October 1998, aimed to: address the needs of the people in the hinterlands; minimize the problem of insurgency; and provide government services spearheaded by the agricultural sector. Its guiding principle is people empowerment and has elicited the active participation of small farmers. The program also hoped to increase farm family income by 15% from the 1997 level.
Among BADC’s innovative features is that it uses a multi-level approach to development; it serves as a training center for agriculture and fishery development, as well as a venue for convergence of government and non-government services in far-flung and under-served areas.

Its beneficiaries are 28 farmers groups with 1,221 members, 22 rural improvement clubs with 612 members and 26 4-H Clubs with 1,040 members.
The program has contributed to the eradication of extreme poverty. It has increased the average family income from PhP71,574 in 1997 to P94,077 in 2004. Agricultural productivity also increased. Rice production increased by 60%; corn production by 212% (5, 937.5MT from 1,900MT); and, vegetables by 26% (1,008.5MT from 800MT).

BADC also facilitated small farmers’ access to credit from financing institutions, such as Quedancor and the Land Bank of the Philippines. This helped increase entrepreneurial activities in BADC sites, made tabo or market days more frequent, and increased the number of auction markets. It also spurred infrastructure development in BADC areas, such as farm-to-market roads worth P7.75 million and BADC building worth P1.5 million.

All these contributed to the reduction of poverty by 32.11% in 2004 from the 1990 level. Moreover, the availability of more agricultural products contributed to the decrease in malnutrition rate from 28% in 2003 to 17.26% in 2004.

To promote environment sustainability, the program employed environment-friendly technologies, such as soil conservation, contour farming, integrated pest management, and natural and organic farming.
Economic empowerment for the women ensued. Women—who mostly comprise the BADC associations and Barangay Development Councils—learned new skills for income generation.
From only seven areas when it started in 1998, the BADC program has been replicated in 92 sites as of January 2006.

Enhancing Health Services

With the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991 came the devolution of health services to local government units (LGU). This caused setbacks in operations, especially of the hospitals.

The devolution caused a 52% to 87% reduction in the provincial government’s budget for hospital operations. And because the LGUs were not technically prepared to manage devolved health services, this led to the deterioration of hospital and public health services. Local chief executives also found themselves shifting from political administrators to health service and economic-enterprise managers.

To address the problem, Governor Arnaiz initiated the Inter-LGU-NGO Partnership in the Delivery of Health Services/ Institutionalization of District Health System in 1992. It was meant to improve the organization and management of healthcare delivery; provide adequate budget for health services; develop hospital facilities and equipment; and develop human resources and augment staffing.

The program entailed the establishment of the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital System. For fiscal flexibility, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) fixed hospital fees and authorized government hospitals to make use of their own income. It also involved augmentation of health personnel with the accreditation of visiting private consultants and hiring of contractual personnel and part-time consultants. Hospital teams were also provided medical training in selected national hospitals in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, the adoption of a Health Reform Agenda led to improvements in public health management and drug management and the development of the local health system and local health financing scheme.

The ensuing increase in income led to improved health facilities, equipment, additional staff, improved services and quality of patient care. It likewise helped lower the costs of diagnostic fees and other services, and reduced expenses through the pooled procurement and parallel drug importation. It also facilitated the creation of the Inter-Local Health Zone Common Trust Fund and the establishment of the Botika ng Barangay or the Barangay Drugstore.

The institutionalization of the district health system brought about the implementation of the “Peso for Health” program, which addressed financial issues. The program entailed cooperativism, which became the anchor of curative and preventive health-care programs and services. With the introduction of preventive and curative health practices, health expenses were further reduced. The district health-care system also became a means of community health-care financing. It engaged in the generation, mobilization and allocation of resources for effective, efficient and equitable provision of health services.

As a result, child and maternal mortality, morbidity and malnutrition declined: infant deaths from 11.92 per 100 live births in 1995 to 8.36/100 in 2002; maternal deaths from 83/100,000 in 1995 to 68.28/100,000 in 2002; protein energy malnutrition (second and third degree) from 6.5% in 1995 to 5.91% in 2002. The incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis also dropped from No. 7 to No. 10 in the leading causes of illnesses.

Gender issues were also addressed. For instance, through the establishment of pink rooms in hospitals for battered women and child-abuse victims, and the designation of blue rooms for men’s non-surgical sterilization and sexual dysfunction. Women were also deputized as family or barangay health workers and volunteers. In addition, the Negros Oriental Family Planning and Reproductive Health Advocacy Network and the Provincial Council of Women were organized.
For the safety of the environment, hospital waste was properly disposed, “No Smoking” signs were put up. The 4 o’clock habit Dengue Information Campaign was launched and the cleanliness of hospital surroundings was strictly observed.
Clearly, the Inter-LGU-NGO partnership resulted in the remarkable health improvement of Negros Oriental residents.

Involving Communities

Established in 1988 by the provincial government of Negros Oriental under the leadership of Gov. Emilio Macias II, the Community Primary Health Project aimed to address the basic needs of primary hospital care and comprehensive primary health care of underserved areas in the province, specifically in the mountains. The program is a community-managed, self-propelling 10-bed facility. It is run by the community through the Community Primary Hospital Board.

Its services include the provision of primary level hospital care, comprehensive maternal and child health care services, expanded program of immunization, control of diarrhea, control of acute respiratory infection, nutrition, family planning, TB control, health education, promotion of herbal medicine, training of indigenous health workers (hilot), outreach clinics (including Operation Tuli), fund raising and income-generating projects.

The program achieved a host of positive socio-economic and environmental impact, such as declining malnutrition rate, improved environmental sanitation with the construction of sanitary toilets, and better access to hospitals.

Four CPH projects were established by the provincial government in far-flung mountain barangays servicing 80% to 85% of the potential beneficiaries annually. The program’s success is apparent in the decrease in the number of total deaths, increase in the number of individuals availing themselves of basic health services and number of individuals or organizations providing support to the hospital.

For instance, the Kalumboyan Primary Community Hospital, registered the following from 1990 to 1993: the total number of patients served by the hospital increased from 2,056 to 4,735; increase in the number of fully immunized children from 45% to 100%; family planning acceptors multiplied; and, the crude death rate declined from 2.4 to 1.9.

Meanwhile, the Community-Based Resource Management (CBRM) program was launched in 1989 by Governor Macias. It aimed to: raise the income and living standards of the province’s marginal farmers, forest dwellers and small-scale fishermen; stop the land degradation and marine-habitat destruction; rehabilitate and regenerate forest, upland and marine resources; and organize, develop and strengthen the people’s organizations to transform them into self-reliant and sustaining communities.

To attain these aims, CBRM activities entailed agroforestry, such as micro-watershed development, on-farm and off-farm reforestation, livestock dispersal, upland fishpond development, and trainings on human resource development, leadership, ecology and other technical aspects of agroforestry.

Also among the major activities were the establishment of marine reserves, construction and installation of artificial reefs (using used tires), mangrove reforestation, the establishment of land-based alternative livelihood for fisherfolks, underwater surveys and trainings.

After experiencing CBRM, the stakeholders are now convinced that the way toward development is through the community’s efforts. The organized farmers and fishermen have been brought closer to their goal of “liberation with self-determination.”

The CBRM program increased productivity, improved cropping intensity and enhanced the living standards of the beneficiaries. The rehabilitation of marine resources benefited both the cooperators and non-cooperators. The program adopters reported huge increases in their income, while fish catch have also been improving. In addition, the project participants have also been encouraging others to adopt CBRM technologies and to protect and rehabilitate the environment.

The increase in the number of associations and active members that participated in the program is indicative of the success of the CBRM. From 74 associations and 2,278 active members in 1991, these increased to 144 associations and 4,647 members in 1993.

Increase in LGU participation is also indicated by the requests for more Bantay Dagat (or Coastal Watch) trainings, more fund allocation for additional staff, etc.

By employing various community-based, innovative and participatory programs, Negros Oriental has shown that progress is possible when there is cooperation among all the stakeholders. Government officials from other provinces and other countries like Indonesia have been paying a visit to Negros Oriental to learn the programs, and to replicate these in their own communities.


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