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Prepared and Equipped for Climate Change

Prepared and Equipped for Climate Change

The community used to rely on their pathway, made up of inferior bamboo and wooden materials, to get around and about the neighborhood at Barangay Darumawang, Lala, Lanao del Norte. It was a challenge for the community, who, while treading the narrow pathways, deal with the dangers of falling on to the muddy waters below because of the integrity of the materials used for the pathway.

The community, situated between the coast of Panguil Bay and waterways comprising the rich fishing grounds of the Municipality of Lala, thrives on fishing as their main source of livelihood; a reason enough for the community to adapt to their environment, no matter how perilous and hard it is living in a barangay surrounded by water.

Lala is considered to be one of the region’s top sources of seafood products (crabs, shrimps, bangus, etc.) – a blessing the people of Lala associate to the richness of their waters. For the majority of coastal communities and barangays located in and around rivers and fish pens, living near their source of livelihood is necessary, as to protect their fish cages and be as near as possible to the river’s mouth connecting to the Panguil Bay, the area most likely to be rich in marine life.

Fermin P. Buray, Barangay Chairman of Darumawang, Lala, Lanao del Norte shares the challenges people of Brgy. Darumawang face every day. “Ang among pagpuyo dinhi tubag kini sa kalisod. Kasagara sa among mga ka-barangay gikan sa mga pamilya nga nabuhi sa pagpanagat. Sila usab, mao may namat-an, mao pud ilang gisudlan nga panginabuhian”, Chairman Buray shares. (Poverty is the reason why we live in this condition. Majority of the residents here come from fishing families. Since it is the life they have been raised to, they themselves take the craft of fishing as their livelihood.)

The people of Darumawang do not have qualms on their living conditions. They say that it is their own choice to live in their community, all because they still believe that being in Darumawang is better than migrating to another barangay where they will then adjust to living conditions – adjusting to another environment for their livelihood.

“Wala kami problema sa abot sa panginabuhian dinhi sa among barangay. Ug walay sud-an, mangisda lang mi sa among palibot. Lisod na ug mamalhin kami kay kasagara area sa uban barangay aduna nay nanag-iya sa mga fish pond – aduna nay naka-angkon sa mga nindot nga plastar nga pwede panagatan,” Chairman Buray adds. (We do not have any problems in terms of our livelihood here in our barangay. You could just fish anywhere if you do not have viand for the day. It would be hard if we move to another place because most barangays are already occupied by other fishermen. Fish ponds and strategic fishing grounds are already owned by other fisher folks.)

Danger is part of the everyday lives for the people of Darumawang. Every step they took was a risk they take against chance. They stopped counting how many people have taken the 6 feet or so plunge to the waters below since incidents are too many to count already. But the narrow wooden pathways post a serious threat to the younger children in their community. Kids have smaller feet, too small that it gets stuck between planks, causing kids to fall on the water below.

The community also have problems with unpredictable sea-level rise, a common problem brought about by climate change. Add to that surging, strong waves brought that shake and wobble the elevated footpath, one could only imagine how hard the conditions the community face.

“Ang lisod lang gayud kay delikado na ang among agianan kay kawayan ug kahoy lang baya among latayanan. Tubig ang ilalum sa among mga balay mao kinahanglan taas among panimalay ug ang mga agianan. Sa panahon nga mosulod ang mga bata sa skwelahan, maluoy mi kay maglisod sila ug latay sa agianan labi na sayo sa buntag nga daghan sila magka-tabo sa gamay nga agianan. Daghan na pud bata nga nahulog diha sa tubig,” Buray said. (The only downside of living in our barangay is the walkways around the community. It is made up of Bamboos and wood planks, and we have to live with it since we do have water all over the place, under our homes, so we have to elevate our houses and our walkways. During school days, our children have a hard time traversing the walkways especially early morning when a lot of people are using the narrow footpaths. There are already a lot of kids who have fallen into the waters below.)

If only a solution was possible to address the problems of Barangay Darumawang. If only there was a way to ensure safety for all the people of Darumawang.

The solution came through a Community-Driven Development Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). Through the Anti-Poverty Program, sub-projects that would address the most pressing problems identified by the community (through a barangay assembly), will be funded and implemented by the community.

Marlito C. Canton, Barangay Sub-Project Management Team – Chair, knew then and there during the Municipal Orientation of the said program that this was the solution to their problem. During the 2012-2013 Kalahi-CIDSS Cycle, the community left nothing to chance as they were all active in participating in the activities comprising the Community Empowerment Activity Cycle (CEAC).

“Nakita namo nga dakong tabang ning maong programa sa kalisod sa among barangay mao nga kaming tanan mi-suporta sa mga aktibidades sa Kalahi. Walay pagduha-duha, ang among lataayanan mao ang napili nga maoy among sulbaron pinaagi sa PSA (Participatory Situational Analysis). Wala gayud kami nagdahum nga maapil mi sa ma-priority para makakuha ug pundo. Mao nga adtong nag implement na mi sa pag-himo sa sementado nga footpath, tanan gyud ang nitabang,” Mr. Canton said. (We saw the huge opportunity the program had in solving the problems of the community that was why all of us supported all activities of Kalahi. There was no doubt the pathway was the major problem in our barangay that is why it was ranked first during the conduct of the PSA. We never thought we would be prioritized for funding, that is why during the implementation, all of us helped in working on the cemented footpath in our barangay.)

Barangay Darumawang was able to complete 556.4 linear meters of concrete elevated footpath, 4 feet elevation from the ground and water below and, 1.3 meters wide, inter-connecting homes, establishments and institutions around the community. This was a feat achieved by the community. The community stood as one in solving their most pressing problem, ensuring safety for everyone.

With the sub-project, safety issues, and the lurking challenges of climate change will be addressed. The sub-project, an adaptation of sorts to secure the people in the community, was a success brought about by the community’s resilience to the challenges of life.

“Kami nga mga pamilya nga nabuhi sa gasa sa kadagatan, lisod mobiya ining gigikanan sa among panginabuhian. Ug wala miabot ang Kalahi-CIDSS sa among barangay, moabot ang panahon nga maghinay-hinay ug kahurot ning mga lumulupyo aning among barangay kay dili na maantos ang kalisod sa among pagpuyo, labi na karon nga dili na masabot ang kondisyon sa kadagatan ug sa panahon. Apan salamt sa Kalahi, nahatagan kami ug bag-ong paglaom nga makapuyo nga prodaktibo ining among barangay,” Mr. Canton gladly said. (Our families have lived enjoying the gifts of the sea. It is hard for us to just leave our source of livelihood. Without the help of Kalahi, some of us would one by one leave our barangay because of the hardships we face due to the conditions of our situation, especially now that the seas are unpredictable and the weather conditions are erratic. Thanks to Kalahi we are given a new hope to live productively in our barangay.)

Written by Marko Davey D. Reyes, DSWD

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May 2014