Fighting Poverty

Article excerpt

HUMAN Development Report 2001 focuses on the theme, Making New Technologies Work for Human Development.

In the Foreword, Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator notes that a critical foundation for success includes at a minimum, some combination of unshackled communications systems, sustained support for research and development in both the private and public sectors, education policies and investments that can help nurture a sufficiently strong skills base, and sufficient regulatory capacity to sustain and manage all these activities. In short, he says, the challenge the world faces is to match the pace of technological innovation with real policy innovation both nationally and globally.

In the local scene, one response to the challenge is a six-year project on fisheries resource management (FRMP) which addresses the critical problems of resources deterioration and growing poverty, It is now on its fourth year, and thus far, it has demonstrated some impact on the lives of a sector representing the poorest of the poor - the municipal fishermen. The key interventions in this project funded by loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) include resource management, income diversification and capability building in 100 municipalities in 18 bays and gulfs. Its counterpart funding comes from the Philippine government and executed by the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and participating government units. Aside from cost-sharing schemes, LGUs also enact a comprehensive fisheries ordinance, implement a municipal licensing system and a coastal resources management plan. FRMP, through its contracted NGOs undertake community organizing where they help the people identify their needs and resources as well as selfhelp initiatives specifically in livelihood development.

All the four key officials on top of the project management - DA Secretary Leonardo Montemayor, DA Usec Cesar Drilon, BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento Jr. and FRMP Project Director Marciano F. Carreon are in agreement that the ultimate goal of FRMP is the creation of alternative livelihood opportunities. As Montemayor notes, it is important to lessen the fisherfolk's dependence on the sea. Overfishing and the continuing degradation of our municipal waters continue, thus depriving the fisherfolk the catch needed for survival. Community surveys indicate that the average fisherman engages in fishing only about 4 to 5 days a week, or nine months in a year. To date, FRMP is marshalling all its learnings and resources towards the creation of an environment favorable to entrepreneurship. …