BUTUAN CITY, Agusan del Sur — With the changing conditions on Earth, like the warming caused by trapped greenhouse gases, communities across the world have been working to become climate resilient.

What more for a country like the Philippines with its location making it like a magnet for typhoons.

In fact, Filipinos have been the unwilling “recipients” of an average of 20 typhoons annually, some of them attributed to climate change; for example, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) that barreled through parts of Eastern Visayas with winds unparalleled in recent history that toppled most everything in its path.

“Yolanda” hit land multiple times, first — and worst — in Tacloban City, Leyte, on November 8, 2013.

CARAGA Region

Presently in CARAGA or Region XIII, which is comprised of the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and  Surigao del Sur; and six cities, Butuan, Cabadbaran, Bayugan, Surigao, Bislig, and Tandag, the local government units (LGUs) of the municipalities of Jabonga and Kitcharo, Agusan del Norte; and Mainit and Alegria, Surigao del Norte, have started efforts at strengthening themselves and, perhaps, be future-proof from disasters.

To implement this plan, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through DOST CARAGA headed by Regional Director Dominga D. Mallonga has extended a helping hand to the two Agusan del Norte and two Surigao del Norte LGUs.

The partnerships of DOST CARAGA and Jabonga, KItcharo, Alegria, and Mainit come in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for a project titled “Building an Inclusive Sustainable and Climate Resilient Community in the Lake Mainit Basin through the Upscaling of Smart CEST Approach of DOST CARAGA.”

Dominga and Jabonga Mayor Jasmin F. Monton, Kitcharao Mayor Aristotle E. Montante, Alegria Mayor Rene G. Esma, and Mainit Mayor Crisanta G. Mondano signed the four separate agreements, respectively.

They signed the MOA on September 5, a highlight of the 2018 Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) held at Robinson’s Place Butuan on September 5-8 in the presence of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) Director Richard P. Burgos, and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-PAGASA) Director Vicente Malano, and others.

Signing as witnesses were Godoberto L. Amora, provincial director, Provincial Science and Technology Center-Agusan del Norte (PSTC-ADN), and engineer Noel M. Ajoc, chief, Technical Support Services.

DOST CARAGA Press Conference

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (2nd, left) briefs members of the local and national media at the DOST CARAGA Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) at Robinson’s Place Butuan, Butuan City, Agusan de Sur. DOST CARAGA Regional Director Dominga Mallonga is at left; DOST-PAGASA Director Vicente Malano, 2nd right, and DOST-STII Director Richard P. Burgos. (EKU) 

CEST stands for Community Empowerment through Science and Technology.  It is one of the programs of the  that addresses, among others, poverty alleviation in the country, particularly in the countryside through harnessing science, technology, and innovation (STI).

CEST seeks to empower the poorest and most depressed communities with STI interventions in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, disaster-risk reduction, and climate change adaptation.

The DOST chief has said time and again that he wants to cascade down to the rural areas the fruits of STI closer to the communities.

He said the government is determined to reduce inequality between the poor and the rich; create more new opportunities; and expand the potential for growth as a country leveraging science and technology (S&T).

In the MOA, “DOST CARAGA has identified the (four municipalities) as the beneficiary of the project and the latter has sought support and assistance from CEST to implement the same.”

The five parties have pledged full cooperation for the project’s “effective and efficient implementation.”

For the four projects, DOST CARAGA and the PSTC-ADN agreed to:

Facilitate the utilization of DOST-GIA (Grants-in-Aid) funds for the provision needed trainings and acquisition/procurement of all the equipment/materials (needed);

Source-out and tap experts within or outside of DOST System as resource person for the design, specification and installation of equipment;

Facilitate procurement of tools and equipment, provide administrative assistance and see to it that procurement/construction should be undertaken in accordance with standard government auditing rules and regulations;

Monitor, evaluate and document project activities and identify alternative courses of action to address problems met, if any, during the project’s implementation; and,

Be responsible for the recovery, in behalf of DOST/CEST, the equipment/facilities in case the project was prematurely terminated.

Funding assistance comes from DOST CARAGA and DOST Special Projects Division.

The project aims to promote science, technology, and creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity to create self-sustaining and inclusive development; promote rural and value chain development aimed at increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism; invest in human capital development, including health and education systems, and match skills and training to meet the demand of businesses, and the private sector; and improve the social protection program.

The project cost for Jabonga is at Php905,150; Kitcharao, Php827,150; Alegria, Php447,150;; and Mainit, Php547,150.

De la Peña said the the four projects were designed to develop a  resilient community along the Lake Mainit Basin and reduce poverty through S&T based livelihood through value adding of agricultural products, processing endemic fish species (pijanga) in Lake Mainit, value adding to moringa plantation products of poor farmers (moringa tea production), reducing malnutrition, improving education, environment friendly tourism, and disaster preparedness. (EKU)

(This is a developing story and is up for updates now and then.)