The long-term project Improving Capacities of Bohol Farmers to Respond to Disasters and Climate Change, started in 2018, is conceptualize so that farmers who are the backbone of agriculture and the most vulnerable of the extreme weather condition could be capacitated and able to respond to the challenges confronting the sector. It is implemented by Farmers Development Center, Inc. (FARDEC), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP)-Bohol and Camillian Disaster Services (CADIS) International.
Bohol, in the Philippines, was hit by a destructive 7.2 magnitude earthquake on October 2013. It came in time when Bohol was not prepared to any occurrence of disaster and has a little knowledge on disaster response and rehabilitation.
Two weeks after the earthquake, another catastrophe raged the province in the form of super typhoon “Yolanda” as Bohol is located in the proximity of the Visayas Region.
Agriculture hardly healed. Rice and corn fields were shaken leaving several irrigation systems broken, while coconut trees which were expected to beef up the farmers’ income, also affected in bearing their fruits. The long dry season that followed refused to give space to the small farmers who were trying to recover.
The project has four expected objectives and outcomes, namely:
1. Increase in farm income for 300 farmer households;
2. Increase in access to basic health services;
3. Establishment of PO DRRM committee;
4. POs are able to engage with local government to raise community concerns.
To realize the expected outcomes, the project has the following components, namely,
1. Formation of Organizations as the venue for unities and undertakings in the barangays and communities;
2. Capacity Building on Land Rights, Sustainable Agriculture and Community Health in relation to Climate Change and Disaster Response;
3. Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CBDRRM); and
4. Lobbying and Networking
However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in March 2020 the Philippines entered a health lockdowns that put a pause on nearly all social and economic life.
The implementing staff of Central Visayas Farmers Development Center Inc. (FARDEC) was hindered from freely visiting our areas, and was compelled to temporarily halt our operations in Bohol and Negros Oriental for the whole year of 2020, including our planned interventions with our funding partner Camillian Disaster Services (CADIS) International in the Bohol island-province.
Finally, in January 2021, FARDEC and CADIS’ project in Bohol resumed, taking on a new flight through the invaluable assistance and resources of a new project staff. Despite stringent travel restrictions, it was possible to made a series of consultations with the stakeholders as well as with partner organizations.
Despite lacking the agricultural support, farmers’ organizations have found strength in one other, allowing for expansion among their members amid harassment and militarization in their communities, such as that in barangays Bayongan, San Francisco, Catoogan, and La Suerte.
Even during the pandemic and right after being hit by Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) in December 2021, FARDEC’s relief efforts also helped to reach out and formally touch base with Partner Organizations (Pos), monitor areas, and assess the situation and needs of these communities. More importantly, three new farmers’ organizations have been created out of the four ad-hoc groups developed during the last reporting period.
Especially relevant under a global pandemic, FARDEC provided due health workshops and discussion to four POs, one from each municipality and Community Risk Reduction Management Planning to eight Pos. These efforts including participatory hazard mapping and risk assessment greatly helped in curbing the effects of Typhoon Odette in the final month of 2021.