Environmental conservation is an often-forgotten aspect of reducing global poverty and providing sustainable income for coastal communities. Conserving the ocean has become an even more pressing issue now because of overfishing. However, one company is putting this at the forefront of their work. Rare’s Fish Forever campaign is working to end the unprecedented endangerment of our coastal waters and protect the families who depend on them.

What Is Rare’s Fish Forever?

Founded in 1995 by Brett Jenks, Rare is an organization with a focus on conservation as a means to protect the world’s most vulnerable people and ensure that the wetlands, forests and oceans they depend on continue to thrive. Fish Forever is a campaign that targets coastal revitalization and conserving biodiversity along coastlines through bottom-up solutions. Jenks says, “The aim isn’t to teach a community to fish; it’s to help ensure they can fish forever.” Ensuring a future for these coastal communities relies on sustainable fishing practices.

Rare’s Fish Forever campaign uses community-led initiatives to provide solutions to issues like overfishing and coastal mismanagement because it empowers local populations and incentivizes future compliance with new regulations. These local people work with all levels of their government to come up with solutions that fit their unique situation. Active in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Belize and Mozambique, Rare’s Fish Forever acts as a guide for communities while also providing tools the improve the data needed for these countries to make informed decisions.

Fish Forever in Mozambique

Mozambique is an African country with more than 1,500 miles of coastline, sustaining millions of people. Half of the population lives on the coastline in fishing communities. In fact, the economy is largely dependent on fisheries, particularly small-scale or artisan fisheries. Almost 85 percent of all fish caught in Mozambique are done so on a small-scale. Communities such as those in the Nampula, Sofala, Inhambane, Maputa and Cabo Delgado regions are good candidates for Rare’s Fish Forever solutions because they are home to most of the small-scale fisherman.

The country’s coastline is very diverse, second only to the Coral Triangle. However, due to climate change and unregulated fishing, the size of the fish catches has declined. In the last 25 years, small-scale catch sizes have declined 30 percent, and it is continuing to decline. Additionally, fisherman asserted that some species of fish had all-together disappeared. Climate change would only worsen these issues, so Rare’s Fish Forever worked with communities to come up with solutions to this threat. Together with Rare’s Fish Forever program, communities came up with four broad solutions to revitalize coastlines, protect biodiversity and ensuring sizeable fish catches for families.

  1. First, they decided to adopt government frameworks to better regulate fishing behaviors and make fishing more sustainable.
  2. Then, they built and strengthened community-based management of coastal fisheries.
  3. Thirdly, communities established fishing areas with managed access – places where fishing was prohibited or limited – and provided social and economic benefits to communities who abided by these rules.
  4. Lastly, they made environmental conservation more of the social norm through education and marketing campaigns.

All in all, Mozambique is on its way to recovery. With more than 100 organizations and institutions supporting Rare’s Fish Forever program, the country’s coastal waters and fishing communities are in good hands. That means a higher chance of conserving the ocean.

Rare’s Fish Forever in the Philippines

Coastal communities in the Philippines face the same sorts of issues as those in Mozambique. Looc Bay is a beautiful location that is home to many communities and attracts its fair share of tourists. Unfortunately, a combination of overfishing by local fisherman and environmental degradation from irresponsible tourism have caused a significant decline in the fish populations. This has only been accelerated by climate change.

The communities in the area have always been wary of external intervention. Their greatest worry when initially approached by Rare’s Fish Forever program was that coastal management would restrict fishing to a point that families could no longer sustain themselves through small-scale fishing. This distrust was fortunately misplaced.

Today, more than 4.4 square miles of coastal waters have been declared as Managed Access Areas and sanctuaries. These protected critical habitats require exclusive clearance, which is only granted to fisherman who comply with sustainable practices. To date, more than 800 fishermen have been granted exclusive access area, meaning that they are also faithful practitioners of sustainable fishing.

Jose Ambrocio, the Looc Municipal Councilor and chairperson of the Agricultural and Environmental Committee, has noted that “With Rare’s Fish Forever program, we are working to balance the economic needs of the people and the need to conserve the resources for the future generation.”

By challenging communities to develop their own solutions, Rare’s Fish Forever program is sustainable and empowering. Through this program, and programs like it, more sustainable fishing practices can be put into place, thus working towards a better future by conserving the ocean.

Julian Mok
Photo: Flickr

Measles Outbreak in the PhilippinesIn January 2019, a measles outbreak in the Philippines began, leaving more than 450 dead and over 33,000 cases to date. Fifteen years after the near eradication of measles in the Philippines, the disease has returned with a vengeance in the Southeast Asian nation. The vaccination rate for measles in the Philippines has declined steadily, from more than 80 percent in 2008 to under 70 percent in 2017.

Several factors have led to a steady decline in the vaccination rate over the last decade. The issue of accessibility affects many people in rural areas of the country, putting them at risk of contracting diseases that are easily preventable with vaccination. The Philippines consists of 7,000 islands and does not have a secure health care budget in place, rendering it nearly impossible to ensure that all citizens are vaccinated.

Increasing misinformation concerning the negative side effects of vaccines has led many people to become skeptical about vaccinating themselves and their children. This drop in confidence in vaccinations has been quite significant. A 2018 study found that nearly 100 percent of participants were in favor of vaccines in 2015, believing them to be safe and effective only four years ago.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone who is not regularly vaccinated is at risk of contracting measles. The airborne virus can spread extremely easily and remains in a room for hours after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. The measles outbreak in the Philippines has affected thousands of people, including many young children who were not given the proper vaccination. Children under six months of age are especially in danger of contracting measles, as they are too young to receive the vaccine.

Pregnant women or those planning pregnancy run additional risks if they are not vaccinated against measles. If a woman wants to become pregnant — and is vaccinated beforehand — she should wait at least four weeks before attempting to conceive. This ensures that the vaccine is functioning properly and effectively. If a woman is not vaccinated against measles and becomes pregnant, a variety of side effects can occur. Common reactions include premature birth, miscarriages or stillbirths, and babies born underweight.

What Can be Done?

Fortunately, the growth rate of the measles outbreak seems to be slowing. New cases decreased to a few hundred per week in May, while thousands were infected each week in February and March. The decline in new cases largely due to local health officials visiting communities firsthand and checking residents’ vaccination statuses.

For children under six months of age who are unable to receive the necessary MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, the best precaution is to limit contact with anyone who is not a primary caregiver. Infants aged six to 11 months should have one dose of the vaccine, while children over one year and adults should have two doses of the vaccine given at least 28 days apart.

A Bright Side to the Measles Outbreak in the Philippines

Despite the tragic number of families that have been affected by the measles outbreak in the Philippines, there is a bright side. Since the outbreak began in early 2019, more than five million people have been vaccinated against the disease. The Filipino government hopes to boost that number to 20 million by the fall, which would mean one-fifth of the country’s population would be newly vaccinated this year. By immunizing such a significant percentage of the population, the Philippines can restore faith in the healthcare system, and prevent further illness and death.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: NPR

Bamboo HousesOne young and ambitious entrepreneur is rising to the occasion in response to the Philippines’ problem of poverty with the invention of bamboo houses.

Poverty in the Philippines

Although the island’s poverty rate has recently fallen from 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015, it still saw approximately 22 million living below the national poverty line. That is over one-fifth of the population.

The creation of jobs outside of agriculture is helping lift the nation out of impoverishment. Unfortunately, constraints like inequality of income and opportunities, the effects of natural disasters and an increasing population prevent many families from achieving a higher quality of life.

Homelessness is something that many Filipino citizens contend with. The Philippines has a rapidly increasing population. In fact, it is estimated to reach 12 million by 2030. Currently, 44 percent of people residing in urban environments live in slums. Furthermore, 1.2 million children are homeless throughout the islands. Manila, the capital, holds 3.1 million homeless Filipinos. Of these residents, 70,000 are children. An imminent need for affordable and durable houses is upon the nation.

The invention of bamboo houses is an innovative solution to finally aid this country’s poverty and homeless crisis.

Cubo Bamboo Houses in the Philippines

A recent graduate from Ateneo de Manila University, Earl Forlales, has conceptualized a fast way to easily assemble affordable houses out of bamboo. Bamboo grows quickly and abundantly on the islands. It is able to be processed into sturdy building material. Forlales said he got the idea for what he’s named “Cubo units” from the structure of nipa huts. These are native houses popular in the rural Philippines.

“The Cubo unit itself is a standard three-by-four-meter studio meant to house two residents,” Forlales explained. “The prefabricated modules only take four hours to install on-site and would only cost roughly Php 4,200 (around $82) per square meter.”

These bamboo houses may be compact, but they are designed to last for around 50 years. Aside from the residential units, Cubo blueprints for daycare and community centers are also being designed. With the versatility of these designs, a small neighborhood will be able to be revitalized in a matter of days.

Today, Forlales’ Cubo units are closer to actual construction than ever before. The young entrepreneur recently won the United Kingdom’s Cities for Our Future competition, winning over 1,200 entries and walking away with enough prize money to help him jump-start his business. Now, Forlales has a website up-and-running for the company. Additionally, he is working to assemble a five-star team that will help his award-winning visions into reality.

Bamboo Houses: The Big Picture

Although Cubo bamboo houses were created with low-income Manila neighborhoods in mind, the designs are applicable to any region where bamboo can be grown. The potential of the idea has no limit and can help hundreds of disadvantaged families live comfortably where they had once been victimized.

Forlales’ vision is something to be admired. He is more than ready to set his plans into motion and begin construction.

“My ultimate dream [is a] Philippines with no slums…I really just want to do something that would impact peoples’ lives, and ideally that something would outlive me.”

Though it may be too early to tell, it seems that his bamboo houses may just set the new norm for living conditions in urban Manila. One idea will positively affect its residents for generations to come.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Global Poverty with Affordable HousingA home serves as protection from the weather. It is the place from which individuals, families and communities grow. Sometimes it is the only four walls where people can let down their guards and be themselves. It is where they can afford to dream. Yet, 1.6 billion people across the globe cannot afford a safe place to live. They may have some semblance of a house, but they do not have a home. Without adequate, affordable housing, global poverty projects can only go so far. Here are five incredible organizations fighting global poverty with affordable housing, from the ground up.

5 Organizations Providing Affordable Housing in Vulnerable Areas

  1. New Story: A Home in 24 Hours
    New Story is a San Francisco-based nonprofit determined to end global homelessness. Since 2015, the organization has helped build 2,200 homes across Latin America. But for New Story, this wasn’t fast enough. The nonprofit partnered with ICON, a construction technology company. This partnership created a 3-D home printer that can build a house in 24 hours for roughly $4,000. For 80 percent of Salvadorans who lack adequate housing and are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding, this technology could transform their lives. New Story and ICON plan to build the first printed community in El Salvador, bringing safe housing to over 400 individuals.
  2. CARE International: Rebuilding After Disaster
    In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed approximately 6,430 Filipinos and destroyed one million homes. Depending on the year, millions of people worldwide become homeless due to natural disasters. Despite such destruction, the only choice is to rebuild. CARE, a humanitarian organization operating in 93 countries, stepped in after Typhoon Haiyan to help Filipinos reconstruct their lives. Over the course of three years, CARE helped over 15,500 homeless families rebuild their communities.
  3. EarthEnable: Safe Housing From the Ground Up
    Fighting global poverty with affordable housing requires a different approach in each country. Though people may have access to affordable housing (defined as less than 30 percent of one’s income), that housing may not even be safe. The nonprofit EarthEnable focuses on the adequate side of affordable housing, making sub-standard homes more standard. Three out of four Rwandans and one billion people worldwide live in homes with dirt floors that house parasites and disease. These are conditions which cause diarrhea, respiratory illness and other serious health conditions. EarthEnable employs Rwandans and teaches them how to replace dirt floors with earthen floors, which are waterproof, sanitary and cost 75 percent less than concrete flooring. So far, earthen floors have been installed in 2,300 homes in Rwanda. This is yet another way that people are coming together and fighting global poverty with affordable housing.
  4. World Habitat: Advocating for Change
    World Habitat is an advocacy organization based in the U.K. charity that together global institutions, national governments, grassroots organizations and local communities to figure out solutions to affordable housing. Every year, the nonprofit hosts the World Habitat Awards, which highlight and celebrate innovative housing solutions. Additionally, the event gifts two winners with $10,000. It is imperative to be on the ground, building affordable houses and rebuilding after a disaster, but it is also necessary to raise awareness and foster housing collaboration across the globe. “There is no shortage of housing problems,” explains World Habitat founder Peter Elderfield. “What is needed are solutions.”
  5. TECHO: Cities that Benefit Everyone
    In 1997, TECHO was a group of students committed to eradicating poverty in Chilean slums. Over 20 years later, TECHO has mobilized over one million volunteers. In fact, TECHO has built 115,000 houses across Latin America. According to U.N.-Habitat estimates, 80 percent of Latin Americans live in cities Of that population, 104 million live in informal settlements or slums. TECHO’s youth-led, community-based approach has been extremely effective. The nonprofit works with individual communities to address their specific needs, whether it be better access to basic services, safe and adequate housing, land ownership support or all of the above.

Making Access to Affordable Housing a Human Right

Fighting global poverty with affordable housing requires solutions at all levels, from local communities to humanitarian organizations and national governments. These five organizations illustrate that adequate, affordable housing is at the crux of global poverty issues. Not only must affordable housing become a priority, but it must also be a basic human right.

– Kate McIntosh
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Philippines
As of 2015, 22 million Filipinos are still living in the depths of poverty. That equates to one-fifth of the population. Poverty presents itself in a vicious cycle affecting mainly the uneducated population who tend to live in large family units. These family units usually have only one head of the household who provides income for the entire family.

The Filipino government is actively trying to speed up its poverty reduction plan. Their long-term goal is to be able to provide more economic prospects, which in turn would help many of their citizens earn a higher and more stable income. A report by the World Bank shows how this economic growth helped decline the rate of poverty. Poverty in the Philippines dropped by 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015.

Key Programs to Help Reduce Poverty in the Philippines

Some factors that resulted in the drop in poverty are the expansion of jobs outside the agriculture sector, government transfers and getting qualified Filipinos to help through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. This particular program which is a government cash-handout project has helped reduce poverty by 25 percent.

Most of the Philippines are hit with massive typhoons and still have an armed conflict. These scenarios are a real struggle to the everyday worker who, even after a long day, still goes back home poor. Due to these factors, many citizens end up leaving behind farm work and go find work in manufacturing hubs in the urban areas of the country. These jobs outside the agricultural dome have accounted for two-thirds of the progress in reducing poverty in the Philippines.

One of the key strategies to help bring down poverty in the Philippines is providing birth control to the poor. In a radical move for the heavily populated Catholic country, the President made readily available birth control to nearly 6 million women who cannot afford it.

Providing birth control is a powerful tool for families who now have full control over family planning. The hope is by giving the women and family units more control, they will have fewer children. This, in turn, will mean that families can provide more responsibly.  This new policy will help the government reach its goal of reducing poverty by 13 percent by 2022.

The current Filipino population is at 104 million and continues to rise at an alarming rate of 1.7 percent each year. This new law will enable families to control how many children they want. It will also hopefully take down the population rate to 1.4 percent each year once the law is fully executed.

Government Hopeful About Achieving its Aim

Even though the Philippines have worked hard in the past to reduce their poverty and keep up with their neighbors China, Vietnam and Indonesia, they still have a long way to go. Marak K. Warwick of The World Bank believes that with a solid foundation there is a reason to be optimistic that the Philippines can achieve their goal.

The goal for the Philippine government is to create more jobs, improve productivity, invest in health and nutrition while focusing on reducing poverty. If the government is able to execute its plans successfully, it is capable of reducing poverty in the Philippines by 13 to 15 percent by 2022.

-Jennifer O’Brien
Photo: Flickr

Why Typhoon Mangkhut Hit Poor People the Hardest in the Philippines
On September 15, the Philippines was struck by a massive typhoon. Winds were blowing at 210 km/h, gusting up to 285 km/h. The most recent death toll was 81 with dozens still missing. The World Meteorological Organization has named the storm the “strongest tropical cyclone the world has faced this year.” As with most other natural disasters, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines hit the poorest populations the hardest.

Landslides

Deadly landslides occurred as a result of overflowing rivers. One of the most disastrous was in Itogen, a remote northern mining town. Emergency workers used shovels and their bare hands to recover the bodies of forty people from the debris. Of the victims, almost all are impoverished gold miners and their family members. Officers in the area told people to find safe shelter prior to the typhoon, but many stayed behind to work the tunnels where they perished.

In Naga, Cebu, landslides wiped out 30 homes in two rural villages, killing 18 people while 64 others are still missing. At least seven of the villagers were rescued after sending text messages calling for help. Too many farmers did not leave quickly enough because they were trying to harvest their crops before the storm or landslides destroyed them.

Authorities say that the typhoon was particularly damaging in the central northern mountainous Cordillera region (CAR), which is composed of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province and the cities of Baguio and Tabuk. Populations that live in these mountains are heavily indigenous and predominantly poor, with 17.1 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Most farmers who live there grow rice, and their margin of income is very thin at best.

According to an article in First Point: “Poverty has forced many to live on or near volcanoes, steep mountains and storm-vulnerable coasts, often leading to disasters.” So, it is the poorest populations that bear the brunt of the destruction.

Massive Flooding

The flash flooding that has resulted from Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines has been disastrous for rural farmers. Mangkhut swamped farm fields in the north, where much of the agriculture is located. Unfortunately, the typhoon came a month after severe monsoon rains that had already made these provinces vulnerable to disaster. Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol predicts a total of 1.5 million farmers and over 100,000 fishing communities will be impacted by the typhoon.

The flooding was so bad that rice fields in Iguig could be mistaken for the town’s river. Oxfam’s April Bulanadi said of the disaster: “While I was able to see some farmers desperately harvesting crops the day before the storm hit, it was clear many were not able to do so. This is heartbreaking because it was supposed to be harvest season next month. This will have devastating impacts on small farmers, many of whom are still recovering from Typhoon Haima in 2016.” Some farmers lost their lives in the floods, but those who left in time will still lose their income due to lost and damaged crops.

The Aftermath of the Typhoon

The only current solution is to support the recovery of the victims of Typhoon Mangkhut. Clean water and materials needed to build shelters for those who have lost their homes are being sent by organizations such as Oxfam. Getting through to the villages has been problematic since the airport was also hit by the typhoon.

Maria Rosario Felizco, Oxfam Philippines Country Director, said that “we must also anticipate that the survivors of Typhoon Mangkhut, especially small fishers and farmers who have lost their source of income, will need support far beyond the first few days of this response.” However, aid is not the only thing that the country needs. Changes also need to be made in order to prevent disasters like this from completely destroying the livelihoods of poor farmers.

Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines was tragic. For those living in poverty, the storm directly posed a threat to their lives, work and homes all at once. The typhoon was particularly detrimental to the country’s poorest citizens because of their location and the devastating loss they must now endure due to destroyed crops.

Evann Orleck-Jetter
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living conditions in the Philippines
The Philippines is a country that is home to over 100 million people, all of which reside in more than 7,017 country’s islands.

As of late 2015, it was estimated that 21.6 percent of the population in the Philippines lives in poverty. This percentage has been reduced from 26.6 percent back in 2006, and many other changes have been made to improve the living conditions in the country. Other goals are also set to reduce the poverty number further. In the text below, these goals and changes are described.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in the Philippines

  1. In the Philippines, bottom 10 percent of the population survive on the annual income of $1,641. The average annual income of Filipino families is about $5,000 a year and these families spent a little over $4,000 on needed expenses in a year. That is nearly three times the annual income of the poor families.
  2. Those with more family members are more at risk of poverty in the Philippines. They have to make more money to survive in a nation that is flooded with inflation, lacks income equality among different sectors and lacks jobs in general. An estimated four out of 10 people that are poor have jobs but they are usually paid less due to the lack of a proper education.
  3. Being a nation that consists of islands surrounded by water, the Philippines is always at risk for environmental threats and natural disasters. The country is prone to tropical storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and volcanic eruptions. Luckily, government officials have the help of USAID and different nongovernmental organizations that aid the country in efforts to reduce the impact of these disasters.
  4. In some areas, only about 30 percent of children complete their education. This can be mostly credited to a lack of financial funds in the household. Some children have to drop out of school to help the family financially by working in menial labor jobs. This prevents them from securing a higher paying job in the future.
  5. The country is currently going through a record high inflation crisis that is greatly affecting the cost of food. The Philippines has an inflation rate of 6.4 percent, the highest in 90 years as noted by Reuters. This inflation has caused the cost of food prices to rise by 8.5 percent. As an example, in order to afford 25 kilos of the cheapest rice, families must secure $60 of their monthly household budgets.
  6. The Philippines is one country that utilizes child laborers for some of its industries. While the Philippines hasn’t outlawed the use of child labor, it has taken moderate steps to ensure the safety of child workers in certain fields and completely abolishing the use of child labor in others. In 2017, the government made crucial changes to the employment and working guidelines of children in the agriculture sector.
  7. There is a large crisis on the island of Mindanao, one of the three largest islands of the country, where two feuding groups of people have left the island in complete disarray. The battles between them left communities damages and displaced many people that left the war-torn area or have had their homes destroyed. The effects have caused the island to become one of the most poverty-ridden areas in the Philippines.
  8. Those facing poverty conditions in the Philippines sometimes have no access to electricity, water and proper sanitation facilities, just a few of the basic necessities human beings need. They are also expected to have less access to things like health care and education, which plays a dominant role in one’s ability to get out of the life of poverty. Lack of education is often a large determinant in a household’s financial instability.
  9. The country has strict laws involving the incarceration of children. With the rising cost of food and the number of children suffering from malnourishment, many are turning to a life of drug-related crimes to make ends meet. These children are often caught and punished severely at the hands of the Philippines’ criminal justice system. Children often go through different forms of torture and endure lack of food and adequate accommodations.
  10. The government is implementing a long-term solution to tackle the poverty conditions people are facing. The plan is set to reduce poverty to at least 15 percent by the year 2022. The strategy is set to focus on creating new and higher-paying jobs, prioritize health care and help the poverty situation on Mindanao to open up valuable resources.

Poverty-reducing efforts have been made by the government to decrease the number of those that suffer from poverty in the Philippines.

In order to ensure the end to the vicious cycle, the country needs to consider education reform to better educate the youth of the country and keep them out of the corrections system.

They will also need to put an end to the feud in Mindanao if they have any hope in securing the funds to turn their poverty reduction dreams into a reality.

– Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Development in the Philippines
Southeastern Asian country of the Philippines faces many problems in the agricultural sector. This sector employs around 37 percent of people in the country, being a major source of income for many households.

Yet, this sector’s share in the country’s GDP has gone down over the years, showing a decline. The Philippines government is also decreasing funding on agriculture. Starting in 2011, agriculture only makes up about 4 percent of the national budget. This makes agricultural development in the Philippines questionable.

To make matters worse, the Philippines is notoriously vulnerable to natural disasters, facing around 20 typhoons each year. For farmers, one typhoon or tropical storm could be enough to wipe out the entire crop. Starting over with the work can be expensive and time-consuming. For example, coconut farmers need up to 10 years for their crops to grow. The lack of financial support coupled with frequent natural disasters leaves farmers in a compromising state.

As a result, 57 percent of agricultural households are impoverished. In comparison, non-agricultural households are three times less impoverished. This rate is even worse in agricultural-dependant areas, and reach up to 74 percent in Central Visayas.

Government’s Role in Agricultural Development in the Philippines

For these farmers, high poverty rates can be attributed to underemployment. Almost 70 percent of underemployed Filipinos work in agriculture, forestry or fishery. While many farmers and agricultural workers are searching for employment, the Government of the Philippines seems to be moving away from reliance on local farmers, turning to imports instead.

In 2016, the Philippines was the biggest rice importer in the world, with close to 2.45 million tons of imported rice. The lowered funding and employment of Filipino farmers put more than 12 million people who work in the agricultural sector at risk. Evidently, more support needs to be given to farmers in order to reduce poverty. Consequently, many poverty-fighting organizations target agricultural development in the Philippines.

IRRI and IPAC

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), for example, has developed a rice variety that can survive natural disasters, especially floods. With funding from the Gates Foundation, the IRRI hopes to increase rice yields by 50 percent in the next 10 years. Based on an Indian rice variety called Swarma, this climate-smart rice has an additional flood-resistant gene.

The rice was able to grow even after two weeks of flooding, whereas most rice varieties would not survive more than four days. This is a huge advancement that can attribute to the lingering agricultural issues in the Philippines.

The Philipinnes government is also working towards agricultural development by implementing the Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness (IPAC) Project. Funded partially by the World Bank, the project works on expanding the capacity of small farmers to make a living.

Through commercial agriculture and improved infrastructure, small-holder farmers can increase their incomes and slowly become more self-reliant. Developing irrigation systems in rural farming lands which is an important aspect of the project, makes farming more efficient for the people of the Philippines. The project plays an important role in reducing poverty, with 20 percent of the beneficiaries being poor farmers.

IFAC Projects in the Philippines

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has funded 16 projects that aid farmers from the Philippines. One project, Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (ConVERGE), helps Filipinos develop their farms into larger businesses by utilizing value chains.

IFAD provides investment and business plans to 55,000 farming households in the poorest parts of the Philippines. Through educating and guiding farmers, especially with the use of sustainable farming methods, IFAD hopes to increase their incomes and reduce poverty in the Philippines.

Through the combined efforts of organizations and the government, the issue of poverty among farmers in the Philippines is being addressed. Still, more work needs to be done in the field of agriculture development so that poverty rates in the country can begin to decrease.

– Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr

HIV in the Philippines
HIV/AIDS in the Philippines continues to be a growing epidemic with an average of 68,000 individuals currently living with HIV, and fewer than half of them are being treated with antivirals. The Philippines now has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Southeast Asia and in the world, reporting to have about 1,021 new cases of HIV/AIDS infected people in January 2018, with 17 percent of those newly infected individuals already showing signs of advanced infection. Luckily, the Philippines government is taking action to reduce HIV in the Philippines.

How the Philippines Are Addressing HIV/AIDS

In August 2018, a government organization called The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) signed a partnership with UNAIDS in order to fast track the reduction of the number of new HIV/AIDS infections within the country.

UNAIDS states that for the past seven years, annual, new HIV infections have more than doubled, reaching to about 12,000 in 2017. Because 80 percent of HIV cases are reported within 70 cities in Manila, LCP and local governments in the Philippines are taking direct action regarding this epidemic, pledging to eradicate this disease.

According to Laarni L. Cayetano, the National Chair of LCP, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Philippines is definitely an issue, stating it “‘needs urgent action among local governments, especially since key populations at risk of infections reside mostly in cities.'”

The Philippines are already beginning to address this issue by starting more innovative services to prevent HIV. Quezon City, for example, has continued to increase HIV funding since 2012 in order to build three clinics that now provide rapid, judgment-free HIV testing and counseling for those who are infected.

The Department of Health

The Department of Health (DOH) has launched a tri-beauty pageant, specifically a “Lhive Free Campaign,” in Quezon City in order to find ambassadors in the prevention of HIV/AIDS among youth. With DOH’s desire to reduce HIV in the Philippines, this campaign serves as a message to the people as well as provides free, early detection methods and free medications needed for those infected.

Beauty Queen and Actress Kylie Verzosa, who was crowned Miss International in 2016 and is currently a DOH ambassador, also supports this campaign and pageant. Although Verzosa is known for her advocacy on mental health, she also shares a passion to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS and promote its prevention. She sees HIV as a physical, emotional, and mental health concern, considering that depression and anxiety can be developed in an HIV patient struggling to live with this condition.

The DOH and World Health Organization (WHO) in the Philippines previously held free, anonymous HIV screenings in the workplace for more than 400 people, DOH staff members and walk-ins alike. They provided eight different stations located throughout the DOH grounds. This service not only helped to promote HIV/AIDS testing as a strategy to fight against this epidemic but it is also important, according to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque, for DOH staff members to know their own HIV status as they are encouraging others to seek treatment.

Other Groups Working to Prevent HIV/AIDS

Other departments and organizations are working to help decrease the HIV/AID epidemic in the Philippines. Dr. Edsel Maurice T. Salvana, the director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at The National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the University of the Philippines, reports that the NIH is researching and working on the molecular epidemiology of HIV viruses that appear to be drug-resistant. The NIH is also offering a variety of services for those infected in this country, such as HIV drug-resistance testing and genotyping, helping to end the further increase of the disease.

The Human Rights Watch also provided recommendations regarding the government’s approach to reduce HIV in the Philippines. The group suggests implementing further HIV prevention education within schools, providing access to condoms, destigmatizing the infection and reinitializing harm reduction programs that focus on injecting drug use.

The LCP partnership with UNAIDS serves as an opportunity and a push to help end the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country. As governments vow to reduce HIV in the Philippines, improvements in the health of the people the country will increase substantially. Advocating for and addressing this issue will not only encourage citizens to seek available treatments but it can also prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines in the future.

Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr

 

Disaster Relief in the Philippines
CARE is an international humanitarian organization that provides emergency relief and international development projects. Their mission is to save lives, fight against poverty, accomplish social justice around the world and help everyone to live in security. They also place focus on both women and children in several different countries who do not have equal rights and opportunities. CARE works in 94 countries around the world and supports over 1,000 humanitarian-aid and development projects fighting against global poverty.

CARE in the Philippines

This non-governmental organization has worked in the Philippines since 1949, and is known for responding to emergency disasters and providing preparedness and recovery. While typhoons and other natural disasters continue to affect the lives of many Filipino people, CARE’s disaster relief in the Philippines provides effective and innovative responses to emergencies.

CARE has responded to every typhoon in the Philippines, including Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) in 2012 and current Typhoon Mangkhut in 2018. One of the strongest storms, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, impacted around 17 million out of over 98 million people in the central region of the Philippines; this storm caused about 1.1 million homes to be damaged or destroyed.

CARES’ Disaster Relief

Regarding this storm, CARE immediately took action starting with providing aid to the Filipino people. After about a year, CARE provided emergency food assistance to over 54,000 households, feeding more than 9,000 children within their supported government school feeding program and training 500 community carpenters to rebuild destroyed homes. The program’s humanitarian aid in the Philippines has also involved and implemented an awareness of principles for building safer houses as well as identifying exactly what the most vulnerable in the Philippines need.

CARE has partnered with disaster professionals to respond to those affected by this typhoon; the organization also hopes to accomplish providing aid to 150,000 Filipino people who survived this emergency and natural disasters.

CARE continues to provide disaster relief in the Philippines and responds to every storm and disaster:

  • In 2014, just a few days after Typhoon Hagupit hit the Philippines, CARE immediately distributed food packages and emergency food rations to over 3,500 families who were affected.
  • CARE then initiated a fundraising request for $5 million in order to relieve and recover the needs of families as they plan to help families rebuild homes and income.
  • In 2017, CARE responded to the tropical storm, Tembin, that affected more than 500,000 people in the Philippines. CARE organized an emergency team and implemented needs and damaged assessments, providing relief assistance to those who were affected by the flooding.

This organization constantly continues their work in providing programs and teams to help relieve the Filipino people’s suffering during these storms and disasters. CARE focuses on providing disaster relief in the Philippines also promotes and desires to increase community resilience.

How CARE Provides its Aid

CARE provides its aid by amplifying the capacity of the people’s needs, adapting and predicting how certain disasters and issues are going to affect the population as well as discovering the causes of those in need of assistance. Due to this effort and dedication, CARE creates a better chance of implementing their humanitarian work while also adapting, protecting and reducing issues arising within the country.

CARE is currently responding to Typhoon Mangkhut, which is known to be one of the strongest storms to hit the northern Philippines in September 2018. CARE has immediately provided emergency response teams to Cagayan and they are continuing to assess damage and needs of the affected villages and towns. According to David Gazashvili, CARE Philippines’ Country Director, Care has “brought some supplies and shelter repair materials ready to be distributed to the affected families.” They are continuing to work with others responding to this typhoon to help assist the Filipino people’s needs.

Other Organizational Aid

Global Hand is a non-profit partnership that supports CARE and everything they do for the Philippines and other countries. The group also supports CARE’s desire to eradicate poverty and help those in need, especially families and those in need of aid and assistance.

Of course, there are other organizations such as USAID who have aided the Philippines during disasters. During the 2013 typhoon, USAID and the World Food Program had the ability to send 55 metric tons of nutritional foods to more than 20,000 children and 15,000 adults. According to USAID, the U.S. offered $20 million for humanitarian assistance for the emergency disaster in the Philippines.

CARE has always been there for the Philippines, never failing to be by the country’s side and help respond to emergency and natural disasters. While CARE also provides assistance in achieving equal rights for women and children as well as responds to sexual, reproductive and gender-based violence, CARE’s continued focus on disaster relief in the Philippines also helps end poverty. Their efforts in creating and implementing projects, programs and assistance will better the future and health of the Philippines.

– Charlene Frett

Photo: Flickr