Sustainable livelihoods for farmers and fishers in typhoon Pablo areas need to be put in place now, humanitarian groups say

Davao City, Philippines (27 February 2013) — “Livelihoods recovery intervention by the government and other humanitarian actors for Typhoon Pablo victims in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley needs to begin now. Development plans for the regions should prioritize incomes and sustainable livelihoods for small farmers and fishers, prioritizing the needs of vulnerable groups such as women and IP’s” says Kevin Lee, head of the Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC), a group of local and international NGOs working for emergency response in a roundtable discussion held at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Initiated by the HRC, international humanitarian organization Oxfam, Ateneo de Davao University and Ateneo TropICS, the roundtable discussion entitled “Challenges and Opportunities for Building Back Better and Resilient Post Pablo Economy and Communities in Eastern Mindanao”, gathered government agencies, local government officials from Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, humanitarian actors, private sector and civil society groups to share recovery plans and strategies on building back resilient communities after Typhoon Pablo.

Typhoon Pablo devastated the local economy of the affected provinces, which mainly relied on single-long term crops namely banana for Compostela Valley and coconut for Davao Oriental. According to Lee, interventions are needed now since “banana and coconut farmers risk losing their lands because they have no resources to re-establish their livelihoods, and are forced to sell their land instead. In Compostela Valley, large packing monopolies are taking advantage of the situation and are renegotiating contract growing agreements that are unfair to local banana farmers, further increasing the poverty gap in the region. Diversifying the agricultural economy, creating industries to add value to primary products, providing small entrepreneurs, farmers and fisherfolk access to fair capital markets and implementing support mechanisms are all required to build back the local economy stronger”.

Dr. Lourdes Simpol, Director of Ateneo Tropical Institute for Climate Studies (Ateneo TropICS) presented her organization’s findings and recommendations for Post-Pablo recovery in eastern seaboard of Mindanao which focuses on food security, livelihood sustainability and local economy and industries. Other recommendations for LGUs is to facilitate recovery planning and updating of municipal land use plans and comprehensive development plans must include the standards of infrastructure and shelter and long term factors such as crop identification, market access, technology and development among others.

“Now is an opportunity for government to implement an equitable development plan, by strengthening the local economy communities will be able to cope better with future extreme weather events and global economic fluctuations” Lee added. “for example, it is crucial to put in place policies that would ensure fair contracts that benefits both Farmers and Banana growers, as well as the packing industry,” Lee further adds.

For Oxfam’s Humanitarian Programme Coordinator Paul del Rosario, local government units must practice inclusive and participative governance in determining the rehabilitation of basic social services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the community. “Local government units must incorporate disaster risk reduction elements in recovery planning and ensure that residents are provided options for resettlement in areas of low risk. Resettlement areas must also have provisions for access to basic and essential services as well as livelihoods,” del Rosario adds