• In the last two decades, storms and monsoon rains have brought floods, sickness, and a standstill in business activities in Balangiga, Eastern Samar every time floodwaters rise.
• Using community-driven development (CDD) approach, residents addressed this problem by constructing a network of canals to channel floodwaters towards the sea.
• CDD not only empowered local communities to address flooding and improve their health, but also created jobs for local residents, thus lessening poverty. But the real gain, residents say, lies in community’s as well as the local government unit's improved capability in local governance.
BALANGIGA, PHILIPPINES, July 15, 2009—Liza Hilaria, a 31-year-old mother of four, remembered her apprehensions when news of Typhoon Feria hit the news. In the municipality of Balangiga in the province of Eastern Samar, storms and monsoon rains have, for the last two decades, brought floods, sickness, and a standstill in business activities every time floodwaters rise.
Things have started to improve when, using a community-driven development (CDD) approach, residents began constructing a network of canals to channel floodwaters towards the sea. Liza said drainage within her immediate vicinity has just been completed. “But will it actually work during heavy storms and typhoons?” she wondered.
Typhoon Feria indeed brought strong winds and heavy rains but the drainage worked and the town did not go underwater, as it used to. “Now we are free from the scourge of the floods, thanks to KALAHI-CIDSS,” Liza said.
KALAHI-CIDSS is a community-driven development program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) funded by the World Bank.
KALAHI is an acronym for Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan or “linking arms against poverty”, while CIDSS stands for Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services. The project was designed to strengthen local communities' participation in barangay (local district) governance, and develop capacity to create, implement, and manage development activities that reduce poverty.
KALAHI-CIDSS trains villagers in project planning, technical design, financial management and procurement, thus building a cadre of future capable leaders at the local level. The project also provides villagers with opportunities for accessing information, expressing their opinions, and influencing local governance. Communities are thus empowered to choose projects that address local challenges.
Residents of Balangiga, one of the poorest towns in Eastern Samar, implemented 26 projects under KALAHI-CIDSS from 2003 until 2006 with a total cost of P18 million. Fourteen involved the construction of drainage and flood control. The rest went into day care centers, street concreting, school buildings, potable water, and sanitation.
Barangays prioritized drainage and flood control since floods affect 60 percent of the population during the rainy season, explained Marciano B. Deladia, Jr., CDD Municipal Area Coordinator for Balangiga. "When floods come, nobody can do business. In some villages, children can’t attend classes since schools and the streets are under water," he explained.
Balangiga has 12,000 residents. Most are dependent on rice and coconut farming, as well as, fishing. Residents say that without drainage, knee-deep floodwaters stay for days causing water-borne diseases among children, especially skin problems like abscess, scabies, and impetigo.
For Balangiga Mayor Viscuso de Lira, KALAHI-CIDSS provides the platform for communities to unite and solve their own problems, but he admitted that the project was not without hitches in the planning stage. People in the communities argued hard about priorities, and some projects were delayed due to right-of-way issues. Nevertheless, the Mayor thought CDD was a powerful development tool.
“We look at CDD as a learning process. The more we do it, the more we learn from its processes. And the people have realized that if they do it themselves, if they work collectively, there are greater chances that community projects are sustained,” he said.
The approach was so effective that local government units under the DSWD’s Makamasang Tugon (MT) program adopted it. Balangiga joined the piloting in September 2008.
Meaningful community participation, transparency, and enhanced accountability make CDD a winner in local governance. This harmonized planning process netted P12.5 million more in priority development projects for local communities, about P7 million of which came from grants from MT and the rest from counterparts by residents as well as LGUs. The funds will be used for additional drainage facilities, daycare centers, farm-to-market roads, potable water, and sanitary toilets.
Mayor de Lira said the projects not only empowered local communities to address flooding and improve their health, but also created jobs for local residents, thus lessening poverty. But the real gain, he stressed, lies in community’s as well as the LGU’s improved capability in local governance.
“Planning and programming is no longer a hit-and-miss activity. We know how to do participatory situational analysis, we have a system of prioritizing development projects, and we have an efficient and transparent financial management system,” the Mayor said.