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“I was glad to know that the community project that addresses community development must be rooted in the basic needs of the majority and must be implemented through community cooperation and unity.”

This was the assessment of Lita Alcalde, the chairperson of Palaquio Bucay Women Organization (PBWO) and a participant in the 2-day Project Management Orientation Seminar conducted by the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) in coordination with Kakaillian Salakniban Tay Amin a Nagtaudan (KASTAN).

The seminar held in Palaquio, Bucay, Abra  on March 18-19, 2015 was participated in by 55 individuals, 35 of them women. Through the activity, farmers and women would be equipped with knowledge on basic development principles on how to manage community based projects.

The seminar was a joint request by farmers and women’s organizations in Barangay Palaquio – the Palaquio Bucay Farmers Association (PBFA) and PBWO – from CDPC in a meeting with their officers and the barangay council on February 7, 2015.  These people’s organizations want to empower the community towards genuine development by way of their collective action and unity.

The seminar, which involved lectures and workshops, surfaced the main problems faced by the community in Barangay Palaquio and the ways by which to resolve them. In the workshop on project management cycle, most of the participants brought out the underdeveloped situation of their community, citing government neglect, graft and corruption as the main reasons for their poor economy.

The major problem that cropped up was lack for irrigation and potable  water , with the farmers relying only on rain to till their lands. They said that if only irrigation services were available to them, farmers would be able to plant twice a year which would greatly help to lessen the months of rice shortage faced by the community. To address this and other community needs, the participants united as one to request from the local government the provision of free communal irrigation services, reforestation project, construction of a farm to market road, imposition of floor prices on farmer’s products and financial assistance.

The participants said they learned a lot from the seminar, expressing appreciation for the knowledge and insights gained from it. They realized that for community-based projects to be successful, these must address the basic needs of the majority. These further require the community’s participation, cooperation and unity from the start of project operation.  And for projects to continue providing service to the community, the members must have discipline and accept and defend the projects from any harm. The participants recognized that genuine social, cultural and political development can be achieved only over the long term, as it requires societal changes. Thus, on their part they resolved to strengthen their organization and alliance work with other organizations who share the same vision.

As an overall recommendation, the farmers and women asked CDPC for more trainings and education to increase their knowledge in community development. CDPC responded, saying they were “happy with the outcomes of the services we have been extending” and will continue to support them until they reach their ideal kind of place.

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