This is an Entry to the Government Best Practice Recognition Awards
Empowered Lumad (Indigenous Communities): A Local Chief Executive’s Thrust of the Municipality of Carmen, Surigao del Sur
Local Government Unit - Carmen, Surigao del Sur
Best practice Focus Area(s)
One of the many best practices of the local government unit of Carmen, Surigao del Sur is called “Integrating Education and Good Governance through Agriculture in Sitios Gacub and Tabinas: An IP Community.” With the threat of insurgency (NPA) and being a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA), Sitios Gacub and Tabinasare the most vulnerable places for armed conflicts and natural and manmade calamities. They are often left out in many basic government services. Fortunately, the plight of these indigenous communities touched the heart of the newly installed Hon. Jane Valeroso Plaza, the Local Chief Executive (LCE). With her dedication and passion, she considered this a challenge and a mission to uplift their living conditions and accord them the much-needed government services; hence, classrooms and other infrastructures were built.
The expertise of the heads of the Department of Agriculture, DSWD, DENR, and the Philippine National Police were tapped in conducting the needs analyses to give authentic interventions for the Manobo community for them to be empowered. A multi-sectoral plan was then crafted to address the gaps. The LCE holds the record of being the first municipal mayor who went to the aforementioned sitios to conduct multiple fora to have grassroots knowledge on the Indigenous People’s (IP’s) needs and eventually mainstream education and agriculture practices in the IP’s midst. It must be noted that Sitio Tabinas is an upland GIDA about four hours away from the Poblacion with unpaved narrow roads that can only be traversed by walking or riding motorcycles locally known as habal-habal. Acculturation activities were conducted to empower IP communities
Specifically, the adoption of education into the system and agricultural innovations were employed for the IP to receive the services they need. Integrating education and agriculture in the IP community is not a new concept. It was enhanced by way of regular visitations and introduction of new ideas and strategies with the will to serve this marginalized sector despite the threats to security and safety in a GIDA-classified locality. Rapid appraisals through visitations started in the 4th quarter of 2016 while fora and the acculturation of education and agriculture started during the 4th quarter of 2017.
Background and Problem
The objectives are as follows:
- To deliver government services to the most vulnerable population – the IP
- To empower the IP community through proper education & livelihood – knowledge, skills, and basic products for uphill farming and
- To deliver health services regularly – immunization, prenatal care, a medical consultation, and proper sanitation.
The challenges the organization experienced are:
- Accessibility – the difficult roads especially during rainy days. (This challenge was later addressed by the LCE through the concreting of some areas towards the sitios.
- Armed conflict with the NPA – the constant presence of the army and the government in the area made the people see the sincerity of the government in assisting them and helping them improve their lives that lead them to ask the members of the NPA not to bother them anymore.
- Poor health service delivery – the regular visit of the health team together with the mayor led to giving of medicine, immunization of children, prenatal care to pregnant women, and also circumcision which prompted the community to allow the RHU team to do their job rather than having the NPA providing medical services. >Dilapidated school ready for elementary but no high school which prompted the NPA to inculcate a different ideology from the government – with the consultation of the LCE (one of her most significant contributions) is that IP integrated school was constructed and now fully operational to cater elementary and high school students. The learners don’t have to walk for hours to go to school in Sitio Gacub and also innovation lessens the cases of teenage pregnancy as girls can now attend classes in the community itself.
- Low income – the LCE envisioned Carmen to be an Agro-industrial center of Surigao del Sur and helped the community to plant root crops and grow lettuce that they can bring downtown and sell in the Food terminal that is also a project of the LCE. The circumstances that compelled the creation or adoption of the Best Practice is that the IP communities are underprivileged due to their distance from the central area of the town. They are sometimes neglected and the last ones to benefit from government assistance, and the presence of insurgents threatening the peace and order of the municipality is very palpable. This led the LCE to see for herself the real situation, act accordingly, and be able to find appropriate and authentic solutions.
Solution and Impact
Theory of Change – being an agent of change – (bridging leadership framework) the LCE set an example of sharing first her vision to her LGU staff and encouraging them to join the cause, also compelling other NGOs as well as the Philippine Army to go down to the community and deliver government services to the people, in return empowering them by opening their minds and being aware of government programs and services to improve their lives.
Agent of change – MLGP Steps:
- LCE visited the place
- Conducted rapid appraisals, consultations, and fora
- Organized and collaborated with agencies and NGOs to deliver services to the IP community
- Constantly monitor progress, especially the gains from agriculture programs if it has improved farmers’ lives 5. Formulate a multi-sectoral plan
The results and impact are as follows:
- Achieved Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) IP community – where every household has a CR. It also achieved the first ZOD municipality in the province and 3rd in the region – achieving this controls food and water-borne diseases as well as control parasitism in the area.
- Constructed an IP integrated school catering elementary and secondary levels – educate the IPs, increase literacy, and improve their economic situations for long term impact – through education, they now have bigger dreams to pursue and opening opportunities for them to improve their economic status.
- Health care workers successfully control the outbreak of measles and achieve zero home deliveries as all pregnant women opted for the facility or hospital-based deliveries having been aware of the risk and problems brought about by home deliveries.
- The IP community is now able to harvest not only crops but also lettuce to sell in the market.
- The IP community also built little fish ponds.
- The environment is preserved as protection of it is always emphasized in all the fora actively campaigning against mining.
- The IP are also given opportunities through different livelihood trainings like weaving abaca for bags, baskets, etc. and producing banana chips and ketchup. Their products are displayed during expos and bazaars.
- Peace is achieved as the community itself did not allow NPA to dwell in their area and the municipality recently signed the manifesto of Persona non Grata to the NPAs.
- The construction of a birthing facility at Sitio Gacub.