Davao City (DSWD XI) –  To combat the prevalence of undernutrition among children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to expand the implementation of its communal and backyard gardening project among its partner-beneficiaries in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Davao Region.

Communal gardening is one of the projects of the DSWD to empower communities and promote good health among poor Filipino families. It aims to help address the nutrition concerns of beneficiaries by encouraging families to cultivate backyard or communal gardens.

“The DSWD has always been strong in its stand to capacitate poor Filipino families towards self-reliance. This is why we continue to incorporate knowledge and skills enhancement training in the Family Development Sessions (FDS) of Pantawid beneficiaries to enable them become productive members of society and provide them support for self-sufficiency,” said DSWD Regional Director Mercedita P. Jabagat.

Aside from its effectiveness in combating the prevalence of undernutrition among children, the project also provides great opportunity for locals to organize and collectively work together for their community’s development and transformation.

For beneficiary Elvie Carcueva of Barangay Dalisay, Panabo City, communal and backyard gardens help in eliminating malnutrition and hunger. Gardening brings unity among Pantawid beneficiaries, community and barangay residents. Because of the Gulayan sa Barangay, the community is able to appreciate the importance of eating healthy food and the benefits they derive from it.

Malipay pud mi nga magkatapok kay samtang ga-atiman mi sa mga tanom, kini nakapalig-on sa among panaghigalaay ug adunay pagtambayayong ang tanan (We are delighted too to come together since as we tend to our plants, we also strengthen our friendship and everyone’s cooperation is noted),” Carcueva said.

“On top of my husband’s salary, the garden gives additional income for us, that is why my husband and children also help me maintain our vegetable garden during weekends as part of our family bonding,” Emma Bayot of Barangay Bolton Malalag Davao Del Sur said.

“Sa pirmiro namo nga pagtanom, nagsugod ko sa baynte ka semilya sa pechay. Nagakuha pud ko sa sementeryo og mga tetra pack aron matamnan (I started off with 20 seedlings of pechay. I also gather from the cemetery tetra packs which I recycle into pots),” Marina Monton of Tibungco, Davao City shared.

“Ang naka nindot sa amoang gulayan kay nag ka unite mi mga beneficiaries nga bisan og naa mi sa daplin sa dagat dili rason nga dili mi maka tanom og mga gulay (Noteworthy in our garden project is that we are united that our proximity to the sea should not be a hindrance for us to grow vegetables),” Monton said.

The urban container gardening was established in 2013 with three Pantawid families in the seaside area of Tibungco. For them, it provided additional income and better nutritional values for the whole family.

Monton said her husband Baltazar repacks the seedlings they buy and sells it to fellow Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries at Tibungco Public Market. Their children also help and gardening has become a kind of family bonding especially on weekends.

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides cash grants to partner-beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers, and attending the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS).

FDS is conducted by DSWD and partners from non-government organizations, private sector, and civil society groups. FDS topics include effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development, home management, active citizenship, electoral education, among others.

To date, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program benefits 255,300 families in Davao Region. (DSWD)