The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to implement programs to strengthen community resilience to reduce the damages brought by natural disturbances and calamities due to climate change.
In Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, one of the coastal communities that was vulnerable to the rising sea level caused by global warming is Barangay San Roque in the municipality of Pilar.
During high tide, sea water reaches the community through an inlet – an indentation of a shoreline, usually long and narrow, such as a small bay or arm, that often leads to an enclosed body of salt water. Since waves, no matter how big or small, continuously creep towards the village’s banks, it erodes the land, leaving residents worried that the sea would one day claim their houses and properties.
However, the community members did not allow their fear to consume them. Through the help of the DSWD’s Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), the San Roque residents were able to construct a community project that will alleviate coastal erosion due to the rising sea water.
Kalahi-CIDSS uses the community-driven development (CDD) strategy which allows communities to gain control over decisions and resources. Through the program, community members actively participate to identify and prioritize their community’s concerns and allow them to design, implement, and manage solutions to their priority problems.
During the second cycle of the implementation of KALAHI-CIDSS in 2016, the residents of San Roque identified that their needed community project is a wharf that will serve as a barrier to the rising sea water. At the same time, it will also be used as miniport and fish landing area.
The construction of the 80-linear meter wharf with a budgetary requirement of Php1,273,000, commenced on June 9, 2016. Through the collaboration of DSWD KALAHI-CIDSS, the Municipal Government of Pilar, the barangay local government of San Roque, and community volunteers, the wharf was immediately finished on August 17 of the same year.
Aside from serving as a fortification against sea water, the wharf has also helped ease the transportation woes of residents since small boats and bancas now have a sturdy structure where they can dock and get passengers. Normally, these boats ferry the villagers to the open sea and to the shores of the town center of Pilar and other neighboring coastal villages. Most residents prefer to ride boats because the fare is much cheaper compared to land transportation.
“Ini man mosakay ang mga tao kay barato man dinhi ang pletehan sa pumpboat kaysa sa motor. Lisud man sa una dinhi. Sa una ang mga bata magkalapok man” (This is where residents access transportation because fare is much cheaper when riding a pumpboat than a motorcycle. It’s so hard here in the past. Students often get muddy [boarding a boat to school]), shared San Roque barangay captain Nilda Gonzales in an interview on April 14, 2021.
“Kami na ang nagplastar ani. Dako jud og tabang ang wharf kay depensa sa tubig” (We were the ones who put these all-in places. The wharf is such a huge defense against the seawater), Nilda added.
Aside from KALAHI-CIDSS, the residents also benefited under the DSWD’s Risk Resiliency Program (RRP) implementation in 2020. The RRP, through the Cash-for-Work (RRP CFW) on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation, and Disaster Risk Reduction aims to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable families and communities by providing cash assistance and involving them in temporary employment activities that address climate and disaster risks.
Under the said scheme, residents were paid to build a stone wharf and clear a pathway that connects with that of KALAHI-CIDSS’ project. The stone wharf also served as a barrier that protects an area that is also vulnerable to soil erosion.
As the lead agency in disaster response, DSWD will continue to ensure the implementation of programs and services that will encourage disaster preparedness and mitigate the impacts of climate changes, especially to vulnerable communities around the country.