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Armor from Disaster

Lanao del Norte —Lydia Encabo, a 48 year old plain housewife and a farmer of barangay Kawit Occidental, Kauswagan, a fifth class Municipality in this province, believes in disaster preparedness and that, a disaster resilient community is ready to face manmade disaster like war, where their town is known to be one of the conflict areas in the province.

She used to be passive on any civic or communal activities and gathering. “Ang akong kinaiya sauna dili gayod ko ga apil-apil o gapakabana sa mga kalihokan sa among barangay kay nagatuo ako nga wala lang gihapon kaayohan makuha nako (Before I was so passive that I do not want to get involved in any community activities because I believed that there is nothing positive I could get from it)”, Lydia said.

Most of the people in the community has the same attitude with Lydia, “Sa among lugar, kasagaran batasan sa mga tao parehas gayod kang Lydia, walay pakialam (In our community, many of the villagers have similar attitude towards communities like Lydia, who showed no concern)”, says Basilisa Ruelan, a former Barangay Chairwoman.

In 2011, Barangay Kawit Occidental was hit by the worst flash flood that washed out their houses due to the water overflowing from the river. That made Lydia realizes that there must something to be done in order to protect their life and properties in their barangay. “Tungod sa among experiensya sa 2011 nga grabe nga baha diin gi banlas tanan among mga balay, nahadlok na gayod kami ug dili na namo gusto mahitabo pa ug utro (Because of that sad experienced in 2011, where a huge flood destroyed all our properties, we are now already terrified and we do not want it to happen again)”, Lydia shared.

In 2012, the community began to open their eyes to change when Kalahi CIDSS-PAMANA was presented to their community. Lydia volunteered to lead the community by setting an example to everyone that spending time to community activities is an investment. She personally embraced and conveyed her neighbours the concepts and strategies of KC-PAMANA particularly in driving the community to development because she feels and see the positive impact of the program that truly address poverty and community empowerment.

Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – (Kalahi-CIDSS) is a flagship anti-poverty program of the national government that empowers communities to be involved in development through community-driven development approach (CDD). Using this strategy, it empowers ordinary citizens to actively and directly participate in local governance by identifying their own community needs, planning, implementing and monitoring projects to address poverty issues collectively.

Through the Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach, Lydia encouraged thirty two (32) volunteers to join her crusade in fighting poverty and community concern. “Nakita gayod namo ang sensiridad ug didikasyon ni Lydia modala sa grupo mao siya gayod among napili nga bag-o nga BSPMC chairmen (We feel the sincerity and dedication of Lydia to lead our community, that is why we chose her as our new BSPMC Chair)”, says fellow volunteer Rodelia Bendanellio.

The Kalahi CIDSS Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (KC-PAMANA) is a joint partnership of DSWD and Office of the Presidential Affair for Peace Process (OPAPP). The program also helped the community volunteers strengthen and enhance their knowledge in poverty alleviation to their society, how to protect the environment and disaster preparedness. “Tungod sa Kalahi CIDSS daghan ordinaryong lumolopyo sa among barangay ang nahimo nga mga matarong ug magpakabanaon nga tao sama nalang kang Lydia nga diin nangulo gayod siya sa pagpakita sa among kumonidad sa pagpakabana labi na sa among proyekto nga flood control, diin dako kayo ug tabang. Isa gayod siya ka empowered women (Because of Kalahi CIDSS, many ordinary residents in our Barangay are now becoming responsible and pro-active citizens, just like Lydia where she lead the volunteers in addressing community concerns in particular our sub-project: the flood control which is a big help to us. She is an empowered woman)”, says Venus Lozano, the current barangay chairman of Kawit.

That same year, with the hardship and active cooperation among the community volunteers practicing the so called “Bayanihan”, they completed flood control with a total project cost of P300, 000.00 which benefited the entire community from disaster, particularly flash floods.

“Ang kumunidad nga nagtinabangay makahimo ug lig-on nga panagang sa kalamidad (A community that works together builds a strong armor from disaster)”, Lydia Encabo concluded.

Written by: Luis T. Arquiza, DSWD

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July 2015