(News Feature) How DSWD’s SLP helps typhoon 'Yolanda' survivors in E. Visayas stand up againby Leilani S. Junio

November 19, 2015 11:27 am 

MANILA, Nov. 16 — Two years after super typhoon "Yolanda" devastated Eastern Visayas and several other areas of Central Philippines, survivors of the catastrophe continue to demonstrate resiliency and have become agents of development in their communities.

Dahlia Atok, 53, of Barangay Concepcion, Ormoc City, Leyte, was one among those who lost their houses and livelihood in November 2013.

However, this unfortunate event did not dampen her spirit. She was confident that help would come eventually.

She was right, after all, as personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under Secretary Corazon J. Soliman came to their village to lend a helping hand and bring her the message that there is a ray of hope and chances to rebuild.

Dahlia then received PhP10,000 from the DSWD for the repair of her damaged home.

And the assistance did not end there.

She was also given livelihood opportunities starting with a six-month training on organic farming under the DSWD-Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

SLP is a program that provides income opportunities for the poor and vulnerable sectors being assisted by DSWD.

It is a community-based capacity building effort that seeks to improve the program participants’ socioeconomic status.

It is implemented through two tracks: Micro-enterprise Development and Employment Facilitation.

Under the Micro-enterprise Development, beneficiaries are given skills on entrepreneurship or in managing small business and the qualified ones are granted no collateral and interest-free loans if they have the skills for small business.

Through the Employment Facilitation Program, the beneficiaries are given training through partner government agencies and private organizations.

With this facility, beneficiaries are given jobs based on their acquired skills.

Today, Dahlia has not only rebuilt her family’s damaged home, but also their lives.

Love for farming

Dahlia became a beneficiary of the Bangon Mini Farm Project under the DSWD-SLP in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and other stakeholders.

Through this project, farmers like Dahlia can continue their agriculture business, such as organic farming and organic swine and poultry production.

Under SLP’s Enterprise Capital Assistance, Dahlia was given PhP10,000 worth of farm materials to help her start her new organic farming venture. She and several other beneficiaries were also taught to improve the condition of the land and increase quality production by putting compost, mud pressed sugar cane, and organic fertilizer from the Leyte Agricultural Corporation.

As of Oct. 28, this year, SLP has assisted 447,730 families from the "Yolanda"-affected regions of Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and MIMAROPA, comprising 58 percent of its overall 2014-2016 target of 778,549 families.

MIMAROPA stands for the island provinces of Mindoro Occidental and Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

“Masaya ako dahil ito talaga ang gusto ko, ang mag-farming. Ngayon, kumikita na kami ng PhP1,000-PhP2,000 kada linggo depende sa mga klase ng tanim na inaani at ipinagbibili namin (I am happy because farming is really what I like to do. We now earn PhP1,000 to PhP2,000 weekly from the different crops that we harvest and sell),” Dahlia proudly shared.

Dahlia utilizes integrated and multi-cropping planting of ornamental plants, herbs, and vegetables in her 1,000- square-meter farm land. She also engages in swine and poultry production, and plans to construct a small fishpond in the area.

Dahlia said the farm is really a big help since her husband, Johnny Atok, 49, was paralyzed due to stroke nine years ago, and has suffered four more strokes since then. He used to be a forester at the Kawayan Municipal Office.

Hence, to augment their income, she started farming in 2006.

They have five children — three have finished college already while the other two are still studying.

During weekends, the three children already out of college come home to work in the farm.

Her other two sons — John Oliver, 19, a third year college student taking up animal science at Visayas State University (VSU), and John Vincent, 17, a second year student pursuing agricultural engineering also at VSU — are also working in the farm when not attending classes.

Dahlia said that farming keeps herself busy which also serves as therapy for her husband.

As a lead farmer, Dahlia has extended the project’s technology and shared the blessings of her farm by hiring two beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who are student workers.

Every weekend, the students work as her partner-farmers with a daily salary of PhP160 each.

“Ngayon, nakatutulong na ako sa iba, naisi-share ko pa ang bagong teknolohiya ng organic farming (I can now help other people, and also share the organic farming technology),” she enthused.

Aside from being a beneficiary of the SLP, Dahlia is also among those qualified to become part of the Cash for Building Livelihood Assets (CBLA), another component of the SLP for "Yolanda" survivors.

Under CBLA, she receives PhP260 per day for a maximum of 15 days in exchange of working to help restore community facilities such as mangroves, day care centers, drainage canals, and markets, among others.

In Ormoc City alone, a total of 120 farmers have availed themselves of the CBLA.

DSWD continues to extend technical assistance to beneficiaries such as financial management and the establishment of farmers’ associations and a cooperative.

DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman has said it is good to know that two years after "Yolanda," survivors like Dahlia continue to demonstrate resiliency and have become agents of development in their own communities. (PNA)

SCS/LSJ

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