PHILIPPINES – I am now in my second week of my fourth trip to the Philippines following the typhoon of Nov 8th 2013. I spent the week in Tacloban, Guiuan and Dulag. It was quite exciting – 10 months after the super typhoon – to be able to see some of the livelihoods that World Renew is helping to rehabilitate that are helping people get back to normal and to stand on their own feet.
Rehabilitation of Fishing
While several other organizations have also provided fishing boats to Haiyan survivors, World Renew is finding those who have been overlooked and tries to fill these gaps.
In Paon barangay in Estancia, for example, we’ve identified 30 fishermen who still needed complete boats from us. In other barangays, fishermen have received boats or funds towards a boat from other organization, but this only provided them with the keel and wooden boat. They did not receive an engine, propeller, outrigger, anchor, nets, or needles to repair nets. World Renew has provided these inputs for 60 out of 109 fishing families in Panay, six fishing groups in Tacloban, and are planning to provide them to fishing families in barangay 6 in Guiuan.
For all families that receive fishing materials from World Renew, we require that they be registered as fishermen before they receive fishing gear. This complies with the governments concern about overfishing. We also require them to belong to the fishing association, so that they can link into government opportunities. Some barangays belonged to an association previously but it needed revitalizing, others never belonged, and needed help forming a new group.
Secondary Fishing livelihoods
In addition to providing boats and gear to fishing families, World Renew is also supporting secondary fishing activities such as seaweed farms and fish cages. These activities provide an additional source of income for fishing families and can be crucial to helping them earn enough to meet their families’ needs.
I had the fun adventure of going by boat out 2 kilometers to visit the 50 hectares of seaweed farming that we helped start up. For this project, we distributed 2,000 kgs of seaweed seedlings and the nylon lines and floaters so that families could set up 4-5 lines each, 80 plants to a line which can yield 10kgs of seaweed in 45 days. If these families sell the fresh seaweed they can earn around 30 cents per kg, if they sell dried seaweed it can generate $1 per kg. One seaweed farmer in 45 days could make $50.00 extra with very little work.
The fish cage is an even more lucrative operation. We are providing 36 of them, co-owned by 4-5 fishermen. Each cage is like a fish hut or farm, with underwater nets that spread out to 45 x 45 feet. The fishing families who use the fish cages usually raise grouper, which is a more expensive fish. Depending on the weather, one fish cage (hut) can net 25 – 35 groupers which they harvest twice a year. In a year they can net a gross revenue of up to 1 million pesos. Divided by 5 fishing households, this provides each of them with up to $4,500.
Fish farming like this does take work. The fishing families take turns feeding their grouper 6kg of food every other day, guarding the cage and diving down to check for diseases. When they find an infected fish, they separate the sick ones from the healthy fish and treat the sick ones with ointment or medicine.
The last part of my adventure at sea was that after stopping in the rain to observe all of this, water got into the motor and the engine would not start again. Thank goodness we went with 5-6 staff and so took 2 boats. The other one ended up towing us. At the top of this page you can see a picture of my boat being towed back to shore.
In the photo to the right, I am attending the 1st meeting for fish vendors, 18 women whose husbands do the fishing, but also one man and woman whose business is to buy and sell fish. They all needed tools to clean and process the fish to be taken to market. World Renew is providing them with knives, metal basins and styrofoam coolers.
Rehabilitation of Agriculture
Besides supporting livelihoods in coastal barangays, World Renew is also responding to needs of inland communities that primarily relied upon farming as their source of income. The problem is that most of these families farmed coconuts before Haiyan and all the trees were torn out or destroyed by the storm. You can see this damage in the picture I took in November 26th, not long after the typhoon. Even if we planted new trees, it would take 7 years before families could harvest new coconuts. To help these families more quickly, World Renew is embarking on an intercropping venture, growing vegetables in between the coconut trees. We have provided families with tools to clear the land and seeds to plant. They are now starting to grow cash crops.
I visited some of the 11 farming groups we provided vegetable seeds to. 65 farmers have already planted string beans, squash, peanuts, bitter gourd, honeydew melon and watermelon, while for 32 other farmers, the cucumber and Chinese pechay is still growing in the nursery.
Rehabilitation of Small Businesses
Having surveyed the communities to find out what assets people lost in the storm, we have also decided to help with other small businesses. In the inland barangays of Cantahay and Dalaragan for instance, we are providing the inputs for 38 people to restart their barbershops, or shell craft making, rug and door mat making, motorcycle spare parts shop, PD Cab repair shop, and concrete hollow block makers. We have other communities still being organized into groups and accepting proposals, so there is more to go, but I am very excited that they can get closer to having their livelihoods back, as the government or World Food Program stopped distributing food aid about 3-4 months ago. This is really needed, and I am glad World Renew is there for the long haul to restore communities.
Senior Project Manager
World Renew International Disaster Response