In October 15, 2013, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Philippines, affecting several provinces in Region VII. The quake left 227 persons dead, 976 injured and over 3 million people affected across the region. The damages to structures, roads, bridges and other public facilities amounted to over Php 2 billion. Among those that were severely affected by the earthquake was the Province of Bohol. It incurred over Php 1.3 million of damages and also recorded the highest number of casualties and injured persons according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). In order to support the province in its rehabilitation and recovery efforts following the earthquake, and later on the impacts of super-typhoon Haiyan, the Center for Disaster Preparedness, with support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), led the two- year implementation of a project entitled “Towards Resilience and Development for Bohol Communities in the Aftermath of Earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan,” which focused on the recovery and rehabilitation of the communities affected by the 2013 earthquake and super-typhoon. The undertaking began in November 2014 as a 6-month project focused on awareness-raising and capacity-building in community-based disaster risk reduction and management (CBDRRM) of affected communities in the Municipality of Antequera, Bohol.
The activities conducted in phase one of the project were designed to complement the capacity-building workshops and prepare for the sustainable livelihood interventions of the second phase. The activities consist of capacity-building and awareness-raising trainings and orientations, such as participatory post-disaster needs assessment workshops, CBDRRM workshops, development of an early warning system (EWS), contingency planning workshop, community drill, and psycho-spiritual support exercises. The DRRM-related trainings enabled community members to learn basic concepts in DRRM, community risk assessment, early warning system (EWS), and DRRM planning. The outcomes include the formation of a Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (BDRMMP), EWS, contingency plan and barangay hazard map. A simulation exercise was also conducted to test the effectiveness of their EWS and contingency plans for typhoons and earthquakes. Phase two of the project focused on the promotion of economic and livelihood sustainability; hence, its components included sustainable agricultural production (the setting up of a demo farmer field and school, workshops and skills-based trainings with a lens on organic approaches to farming, vermicompost production and organic composting), alternative livelihood production (along with hog dispersal), cooperative development, and social enterprise.
The project was also able to organise two community organisations to help the people sustain the initiatives – the Mag-aso Organic Farmers Livelihood Organization (MOFALO), which is a community association, and the Sto. Rosario Organic Farmers Association (SOFA). These organisations were provided with documentation for them to be acquainted with the process of running an organisation. The partners for this project included community members, including farmers (both men & women) and municipal and barangay officials.
One of the significant achievements of the project was the partnership established between the farmers’ organisations and Barangay Council members of Sto. Rosario and Mag-aso. The strong collaboration between the two groups was evident in the different project activities, which involved capacity-building on DRRM and agriculture, organic farming, livestock dispersal, and a cooperative store. Each of the farmers’ organisations in the covered areas has a set of officers comprised of purok (zone) residents and Barangay Council members. They are members of other existing community-based organisations, which relate to women, senior citizens, farmers, savings, and loans.
At the municipal level, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Antequera has demonstrated staunch support by being open and receptive to the goals and activities of the project. The Municipal Mayor showed commitment to the project by being present in the major activities when invited. The LGU also provided free transportation for the beneficiaries from the covered villages to attend trainings and workshops organised under the project.
Furthermore, two LGU departments were also closely engaged in the project, namely the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) and Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO). The MDRRMO participated in the CBDRRM orientation workshop while the MAO provided seedlings and chickens to the two farmers’ organisations.
Apart from the local government, the project was able to mobilise partners from the national government, academia, and non-government organisations to extend assistance and collaborate with the farmers’ organisations in the covered communities. For capacity-building, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) was engaged to provide training on charcoal briquettes production for the beneficiaries in Barangay Mag-aso.
Representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also played a commendable role in assisting the beneficiaries to improve their bookkeeping and documentation skills through a training on entrepreneurship. On the other hand, for the provision of seedlings, the University of the Philippines Los Baños National Seed Foundation and the People’s Fair Trade Action Center (PTAC) were tapped.