The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has awarded an assistance amount of P214,000 to be used as capital for rice trading by the fisher community group Nursiha (Nurcia, Sibahay, Habag) in Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur, under a livelihood proposal developed with the assistance of environmental group Haribon Foundation.
Composed of 28 volunteer fisher folks, Nursiha developed and submitted a livelihood proposal earlier this year under the guidance of Haribon, in collaboration with DOLE. Using DOLE’s project proposal template, community organizations such as Nursiha were taught how to make livelihood proposals for funding in November of last year.
“It is not easy to develop a project proposal if it’s only us so we are really thankful to Haribon, DOLE and the local government of Lanuza who helped us come up with a good document,” said Elizar Ortuyo, fisher leader of Nursiha who helps manage marine protected areas in Lanuza Bay.
The highest academic attainment of any of the members of the group is elementary education. After endorsements and processing of requirements, DOLE released the assistance funds for the rice trading business of Nursiha on May 9.
Members of Nursiha told Haribon that they are proud of the project, as they are the ones who conceptualized it, processed the requirements and submitted to DOLE. “This is really our work,” enthused Ortuyo.
Over four decades in community work, Haribon emphasized that true empowerment takes place when the welfare, access, participation and sense of ownership are acknowledged and enjoyed by beneficiary communities.
Ortuyo further remarked that without appropriate community consultation, their group would probably expect to get pump boats or fishing gears since they are fishers. “But we need the rice business not only as it is a basic family need but it will augment our earnings with this alternative income source,” said Ortuyo.
According to the foundation, community empowerment is a complex task but collaboration among various development actors makes the work towards better and more sustainable communities achievable.
Nursiha is one of Haribon Foundation’s partner community organizations for its SMARTSeas Project in Lanuza Bay or the Strengthening the Marine Protected Areas to Conserve the Marine Key Biodiversity Areas. Since 2011, Haribon has been helping to build the capacity of people’s organizations in sustainably managing its marine protected areas as well as providing livelihood assistance to partner communities, such as through the KAAMPAKA dried fish enterprise.
AMELITA TALOTALO/HARIBON FOUNDATION