PIA Press Release
Monday, January 09, 2012
Feature: Tuguegarao City’s One Barangay, One Livelihood Programby Purita S. Licas
TUGUEGARAO CITY, January 9 (PIA) -- Cora (not her real name), now 45 years old, recalled a time in 2005 when she asked, with a heavy heart, her two children to temporarily quit from attending secondary school due to financial difficulties. The children protested but Cora’s decision prevailed.
Today, the two children hope to finish their tertiary education degree.
Carlos (not his real name), felt like he had lost all hopes of starting his own meat products business after his wife suffered a miscarriage on their second child in 2007. Frantic to make both ends meet, he went from one job to the next without thinking even of rest.
Today, Carlos manages his own meat products he distributes to various outlets. He plans to start his own meat stall by mid this year.
Cora and Carlos are but two of the more than 6,000 households who are reaping the success of Tuguegarao City’s One Barangay, One Livelihood (OBOL) program, a national awardee in the League of Cities’ Best Practices.
Before the program was conceptualized and finally implemented, the city faced the challenges of economic growth. Then City Mayor and now Congressman Randy Ting admitted that the city did not have a strong poverty reduction strategy for livelihood and employment.
“To make matters worse, Tuguegarao City attracted many poor migrants in search of a better life. Many ended up as tricycle drivers adding to the problem of unmanageable population and aggravated the city’s already congested traffic situation and air pollution. Ting said.
Like any growing city, Tuguegarao had its own share of poor families with malnourished children and debilitating elderlies who cannot send their children to school for lack of food and fare with various problems that come stumbling one after the other, if not at the same time.
Often then, and sometimes up to the present, members of such families are involved in crimes and vices to sustain the families’ need for food and clothing.
The program came up with a database of poor households and provided them with basic livelihood and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, starting working capital and equipment through soft loans and community assistances.
In only three years, the program benefitted thousands of households and increased the income of the city’s poor households from 10,000 pesos to 60,000 pesos per annum, and reduced the number of poor households from 11,416 to 5,121.
The local government unit said that while the program was designed primarily to create employment opportunities, it also developed 21 local products that have become trademark souvenirs of Tuguegarao City.
“It increased the city’s economic activities and the amount of spending money in circulation, contributing to the city’s vibrancy, and converted the city’s poor households from socio-economic dependence into productive and active participants to the building of the city’s being the premier Ybanag City,” City planning Officer Maria Fe Villania said.
She added that the working partnership with TESDA, PLRC, DA, DTI, DOT, DSWD, DAR and various schools ensure a continuing funding, research and development.
Because the city government had no reliable source of user-friendly technology and was highly dependent on regional line agencies, Tuguegarao invested 960,000 pesos and worked with the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) to establish the Tuguegarao City Technology and Livelihood Development Center.
One of the problems faced by the program was the culture of dole-outs from the previous livelihood programs of the national government, where the beneficiaries expected to receive benefits without repayment.
But the LGU, community training and employment coordinators and other program managers were very firm about repayment.
After the initial program’s successes in terms of sales, profits and return orders, the dole-out mentality became a thing of the past.
“They now abide by policies and adhere to agreed schedules of repayment with sense of price that they now contribute to community development and employment generation,” LGU officials said.
The program was cited as a showcase of good governance and poverty reduction, principles and practices. It was noted that on the other hand, the beneficiaries have access to information, while the local officials ensured their livelihood security.
As of this writing, poor household income is a minimum of 7,000 pesos monthly from all sources. This is a dramatic increase from 30 pesos daily income.
In reciprocation, the urban and rural poor are now very active and have become committed partners of the city government for all programs available.
“This is our way of empowering marginalized people and for them to enjoy decent lives. We’re very sincere in this program,” Ting said.
As the program continues, the numerous Coras and Carloses always look forward to a more improved standard of living as they continuously embark on more productive activities provided by their city government.
Five years ago, then Governor Edgar Lara convinced of the program’s success, gave incentives to identify target municipalities wherein the concept of the program based on Tuguegarao’s experience can be made available at the provincial level. (PIA2)