By Reine Kathryn Rala (CRS) and Christopher Quiza (CCFI)
Typhoon Nona brought significant damage in Northern Samar communities affecting around 200,000 people in mid-December of 2015. Situated on the front line of Pacific storms, the province of Northern Samar in the Philippines is annually threatened by typhoons and has been hit by at least one destructive storm in each of the last three years. Amongst those lives and livelihoods sources affected was that of Ruben Fortuno’s family, his wife and daughters, of Brgy. Barobaybay in Lavesarez Municipality.
“I am very happy that CRS project has reached our village after the typhoon. I think people in my village will be happy with the help,” Ruben said.
The community of Barobaybay in Lavesarez Municipality is one of the select communities where adaptive community transformation (ACT) project is providing capacity building on disaster risk reduction and management, livelihoods opportunities from options aquaculture, crops and livestock, as well as forming and strengthening savings groups.
“The fact that the project is here to extend help, our hearts are touched. It gives us further motivation to stand and counter life’s problems as well as smile every day. We feel excited when trainings are held,” Ruben shared.
Ruben is one of the aquaculture beneficiaries and selected mangrove crab as a sub-commodity. He participated in the training on typhoon-resilient practices on mangrove crab fattening facilitated by fisheries technical staff of ACT Project. Aquaculture beneficiaries are trained also on making mounds for crabs considered to be typhoon resilient.
Participation in series of aquaculture training is a pre-requisite before beneficiaries receive cash grants of $150 distributed in two installments. The cash grant intends to support realization of the individual production plans particular to types of commodities selected by beneficiaries. The cash support will be used to procure input enlisted in the production plan as well as support production activities related to enhancing the livelihoods option beneficiaries have chosen.
During the simulation of aquaculture fields for training in mud crab fattening, Fisheries Officer–Romeo Sultan, provided hands-on coaching to Ruben, on how to accurately plant mangrove trees as typhoon-resilient practice in aquaculture production.
“Through your help, it will help me provide support to my family as nowadays it’s very difficult to earn. I may have a small rice farm but it is not a guarantee that my family can eat sufficiently; we still have to wait three to four months before we can harvest. I must do something else for them. I think being a beneficiary in this project will help me gain skills and knowledge to improve and sustain our livelihoods in mangrove crab fattening.”
With support from United States Agency for International Development/Office of Foreign Development Assistance (USAID/OFDA), ACT project is being implemented by Catholic Relief Services in partnership with Caritas Catarman Foundation, Inc.—a local church-based organization based in Northern Samar. The project aims to provide intervention to 2,820 households (as direct beneficiary) in select 30 barangays in 5 municipalities of Northern Samar. The project intends to effectively prepare communities and respond to natural disaster as well as reduce the effect of typhoons on livelihoods of vulnerable households.