Municipal Government of San Fernando, Romblon
Best Practice Focus Area/s
Leadership, Strategy, Citizens / Customers
2013 and reintroduced in April 2020
This is a GBPR entry
As the world suffers one of the most serious health crises it has ever experienced, not to mention the financial, social, and economic burden it has caused many people, the Municipality of San Fernando, Romblon, thought of a win-win solution to help its people cope with and fight against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation which triggered former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to enforce the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon.
In furtherance of the Local Government Unit (LGU)’s Community-Based Agriculture Program, which started in 2013, the Municipality of San Fernando came up with Organic Agriculture and Clean and Green Program considering the COVID-19 crisis and consists of the following components: (1) Mandatory backyard and urban food garden for every family; (2) Training on current techniques for the sustainable backyard and urban gardening such as but not limited to self-watering bottle gardening, backyard pot gardening, etc.; (3) Use of organic fertilizers and pesticides; (4) Compliance with municipal waste disposal ordinance; and (5) Presence of sanitary toilets.
Background and Problem
COVID-19 hampered all planned activities in the world. With this, the Municipality of San Fernando launched a special initiative, dubbed: Bahay Ko, Garden Ko Food Production and Sustainable Livelihood Program, to help the residents cope during the pandemic by focusing on and promoting good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Lockdown or community quarantine was enforced in every province, city, or municipality to contain the virus and ensure the safety of the people. Protocols such as staying inside their homes, wearing face masks, and proper social or physical distancing were strictly observed.
Meanwhile, in San Fernando, the government’s dole-out livelihood projects gradually fade because of the government’s system of implementation. Governments require the community to organize themselves into a group. Funded every group as CSO or Civil Society Organization, and funding was based on their submitted project proposals. The projects will undergo bidding, and bidders will be invited to join. As a result of the bidding process, approved funding will follow, and procurement of materials shall be done by procurement personnel of the government. Groups were also expecting the lowest price as it was done through bidding.
The materials procured were undersized and substandard, resulting in the livelihood collapse. The group was informed of the approved budget for the livelihood in which the delivery of the amount they saw was the same as it was written. The budget was denied.
The San Fernando LGU revived the program and applied new innovations from the beginning until the end. The selected beneficiaries were the entire community of San Fernando in all barangays, and became empowered.
Solution and Impact
The idea of institutionalizing the Bahay Ko Garden Ko Food Production Program used the following methodologies and components: First is the identification of the Problems – the unexpected pandemic arrived at no certain time and caused chaos in people’s lives, such as job losses, economic bar down, health deterioration and loss of life. Next is data gathering to address the problem. They need to identify the root cause of the problem. They need to gather factors that contribute to the problem’s existence, which may include the time, damages, and area covered. Afterward is the identification of resources to be used in solving the problem. In gathering the data relative to the problem, the implementer can quickly identify the needs, such as funding, resource person/s, timeframe, and actions.
After that is the preparation for the planning activity, wherein the planning was based on the guidelines and protocols to be observed during the enforcement of community quarantine and in the new normal situation; then comes the setting of the meeting, wherein there was a thorough discussion of the issues and concerns on implementing the program. This is followed by identifying the goals and targets as a reference point or a number intended to be attained. Once this is done, this is followed by the creation of the committee, a self-constituted organization to handle and promote the project.
This will be followed by formulating the action plan, wherein they will identify the action plan. What comes next is the identification of the project’s target beneficiaries, and last is the setting of the target date of the implementation to carry out the specific program.
To enhance the program, plans were made, and two and a half million pesos (P2.5) were budgeted, and the Municipal Ordinance on Clean and Green Program was crafted, but, because of COVID-19, the public hearing for the approval of said ordinance was put aside.
Based on the monitoring, 99% of the households had participated in the project, and during home visitations, household members shared that they already had enough vegetables free of chemicals. They even shared their products as gifts, and some donated their harvest for free to barangays that were put on lockdown. Strong family ties were developed, and the stress of COVID-19 pandemic was diverted to the positive psychological impact brought by the activities of household gardening.
As part of the following steps is the enactment of the ordinance wherein the Local Chief Executive requested the Legislative body through the Sangguniang Bayan Members to formulate an ordinance intended for the Bahay Ko Garden Ko program. This ordinance serves as the municipality’s policy to reduce the incidence of hunger and malnutrition through sustainable backyard gardening at the household level. Another policy included in the ordinance was to promote ecological well-being by fostering and adopting organic gardening among the constituents.
Aside from these ordinances and issuance of the executive order is the idea to showcase the products/harvest through an annual celebration. The program is represented by all barangays and academies, with their products exhibited in their respective stalls. People may see the LGU’s capability to produce more freshly harvested crops for display and sale. Products are on a first-come, first-served basis accommodation. More displays, more sales, the products were all sold out four hours after the program.
The people’s initiatives, just by simply complying with the executive order of the LCE, resulted in the mass production of vegetables and led to more supply than demand. Some household farmers barter their products for fish or meat through the barter system.
To date, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) MIMAROPA recognized Bahay Ko, Garden Ko Program, as one of the Best Practices in the region in combatting the COVID-19 situation and pandemic.