Sarangani, Davao Occidental (DSWD XI) – Surviving the daily grind was a struggle for the townsfolk of Barangay Laker in Sarangani, Davao Occidental.

After all, not so long ago, residents, especially students, teachers, and farmers had to travel by foot or horse, braving the bumpy, slippery, and muddy road in order to go to school or transport products to the nearest market. Basically, to the young kids and to the older people who are trying to make a living, even getting to where they need to be posed a glaring challenge.

“Before, we spent so much time travelling since getting to our barangay required two trips. First, by a 30-minute boat ride from the sentro (poblacion) followed by a hike or a horseback ride along slippery, bumpy, and muddy roads all the way to our barangay,” said Royeca J. Palbe, 34, a Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteer.

Today, the challenge of their once dangerous roads is behind them. Now, the community volunteer is proud to showcase the new roads in their barangay which they built through Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). This program even empowered the community by including them in the whole planning, execution, and process.

Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the programs of DSWD that uses the Community Driven Development (CDD) approach to empower local communities to undertake their own development projects by actively and directly partaking in local governance. The locals are a vital part of every project because they help identify their community needs as well as take part in implementing projects that will address these needs.

Challenges, blessings

The municipality of Sarangani has a total grant allocation of Php 11, 645.000.00 per cycle.

“Through the Kalahi-CIDSS process, barangays are given the opportunity to present project proposals during the Municipal Inter- Barangay Forum Participatory Resource Allocation (MIBF-PRA). The people will then vote for projects deserving to receive funding, using a set of criteria that they themselves have formulated,” explained Merlinda A. Paragamac, DSWD Promotive Services Division Chief.   

While this system is great news for barangays that have been prioritized, it also means that there are communities that may not be chosen for a particular cycle. Due to budget limitations, communities are taught to be smart about which projects to prioritize. Usually, the projects which are chosen benefit the most people, and also contribute to the general economic welfare of the community. This is a learning curve for most people, though.

“Sa cycle 1, wala mi na prioritize maskin naningkamot mi. Among gipakita among sitwasyon pinaagi sa pag drama aron makita nila among kahimtang sa una. Among gi comply ang mga dokumento ug gitrabaho ang tanan. Pero wala gihapon namo nakuha ang proyekto (During cycle 1, we were not prioritized despite our best efforts to get the fund. We even re-enacted the situation in our community so they would understand. We completed all the documents and prepared everything but we did not get the sub-project),”Palber recounted.

She added,the community pondered that maybe their efforts were not enough because they failed to get the sub-project that they’ve been longing for. Eventually they understood that not all “needs” could be addressed right away, with the limited funding and the challenges of other areas. In the end, they were able to view the situation with a fresh, optimistic resolve.

“Our Barangay officials and the Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinating Team encouraged us to never give up on our dreams.”

Palbe shared that participating in the program had its challenges but it provided the townsfolk of Barangay Laker with better opportunities when they were ranked as number one among six prioritized barangays that were granted funds for the sub-projects they proposed during the second cycle of implementation.

Gitun-an nako ang proseso sa programa, gihatag sa ako ang katungod sa mga time sheet, Employment Record sheet, og logbook. First time gyud nako ni makat-unan. Mura ko og nag skwela og usab. Sulod sa tulo ka tuig, natun-an gyud nako ang proseso (I learned the process of the program. I was given the responsibility to take care of the time sheet, Employment Record sheet, as well as the logbook. It’s my first time to learn something like this. It’s like I’m back in school. In three years, I learned the process).”

“The community volunteers are happy to have it. An improved road makes transport easier and now that they engage in the CDD process, they feel that they can better support themselves.”

On the implementation of the sub-project, they used the Community Force Account (CFA), a sub-project implementation arrangement where the sub-project is directly implemented by the community. The community procure the materials, hire local manpower and other needed resources to complete the sub-project.

The Community Force Account (CFA) not only contributes to generate additional income for rural families but it also allows skilled and unskilled workers from the barangay to construct the community project.

“Daghan mi og natun-an, hilabi na ang mga trabahante. Ang lima ka sitio naay rotation. Pag sugod sa trabaho nagpatawag og meeting. Sa sugod nag lisud mi sa materyales kay gikan pa sa layo nga lugar. Ang pagtrabaho naa man mi tanan naka monitor. Pag naay problema magpatawag mi og meeting aron masulusyonan dayon. (We learned a lot, especially the laborers. All sitios rotate for the project. We called for a meeting. We had difficulty at first since our materials were procured from a far place. We monitor our project and when problems arise, we meet to find solutions),”said Dondon M. Malina, 42, part of Project Preparation Team (PPT).

The concreting of community access road was funded by DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS at Php 2,494,402.00 with a Local Counterpart Contribution of Php 78,614.00.

Hopeful community volunteers

Because of the improved condition of the road, the cost of transporting their goods has gone down by almost half.

“Before, I would sell copras at Php 35.00, now I could offer it at Php 20.00 Everyone truly benefited in this project,” Malina added.

At present, the municipalities undergoing the LGU-led cycle are Braulio E. Dujali, Baganga, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Lupon, Malalag, Montevista, San Isidro of Davao del Norte, and Sta. Maria with a total grant allocation of Php 173, 980, 750.00.

The townsfolk have improved their lives through Kalahi- CIDSS. It did not only give them a valuable resource, it also helped strengthen their leadership and camaraderie as a community.

“The municipality benefited largely from the program, not only because of the sub-projects but also the process that promotes transparency and empowers communities.  As a response, we will ensure that the process is sustained while the resources will never be put to waste,” Palbe emphasized.

The Kalahi-CIDSS project, through the collective effort of community volunteers, now provides safety to students when going to school and to farmers transporting their products. The road that imposed danger is now eliminated since the program and the people busted the bumps. (DSWD)