DOST-Mimaropa promotes community empowerment in Buenavista

BUENAVISTA, Marinduque – The Department of Science and Technology-Mimaropa is transforming this underprivileged village in Buenavista, Marinduque into a productive and resilient community.

Barangay Yook is nestled between the coastal waters of the island and the dormant Mt. Malindig, offering extensive economic opportunities. However, for a long time, the people there have been suffering from poverty, malnutrition, and low basic literacy among children.

Four years ago, the local government of Yook started to go above and beyond to uplift their depressing situation. This led them to seek the assistance of DOST-Mimaropa for impactful interventions that do more than just providing stopgap solutions.

Yook then became a beneficiary of the agency’s Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program. CEST works to raise the living standards of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities by addressing pressing issues related but not limited to livelihood, health and nutrition, education, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and environmental protection and conservation.

Safe water for everyone

Finding safe drinking water was a daunting challenge for the people in Yook. Some fetch their daily water supply from the only spring in the area, some even just wait for the rain to come.

Residents of Barangay Yook can now get safe drinking water from the Solar-Powered Water Purifier by DOST-Mimaropa

“Ako, kasama ng mga anak ko ay naigib ng tubig sa bukal na 300 metro ang layo mula sa aming bahay tapos ay pinapa-kuluan para inumin. (Together with my children, we used to fetch water from the spring 300 meters away from our house then bring it to a boil to be used for drinking),” said Marivic Recaña, a resident of the barangay.

This poor situation was seriously putting the people at risk for water-borne diseases.

To provide easier access to clean and safe water and mitigate the risk of catching diseases, DOST-Mimaropa provided a solar-powered water purifier to the community that can produce at least 50 containers (of 5 gallons each) of water per day enough for the consumption of 30 households.

“Malaking bagay po ang water filtration system na ito kasi mas nakakasiguro tayo ngayon na malinis ang iinumin nilang tubig (The water filtration system is a big deal for us because we are now sure that our people are drinking reliable water),” said Gemma Perlas, the chairman of Yook.

Raising native pigs as livelihood

Working with the DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) and Marinduque State College (MSC), a total of 40 genetically improved native pigs or “Markaduke” were distributed to 20 beneficiaries in order to promote backyard hog raising in the community.

This project aims to develop a sustainable livelihood opportunity while honing the entrepreneurship skills of the community. Raising native pigs is also a way to enhance food security in the area.

“By providing them an opportunity to build their livelihood, we can empower them and eventually break the poverty cycle,” said Bernardo Caringal, the Provincial Science and Technology Director (PSTD) of Marinduque.

To date, nine (9) sows are already pregnant and are estimated to give birth this year. With continued propagation of native pigs and support from the agencies, Yook is positioning itself to be the major producer of native pigs in the province and in the region.

“Salamat po sa DOST-Mimaropa kasi nabigyan kami ng dagdag na pagkakakitaan (I am grateful to DOST-Mimaropa because we have another source of income now),” said Alejandro, one of the beneficiaries. “Hindi na po kami umaasa sa dagat lamang (We will not solely depend on fishing anymore).”

More opportunities with a healthier shore

The shores of Yook, declared part of the country’s marine protected area (MPA) by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), holds great economic potential.

The artificial reef installed in the coaster waters of Barangay Yook captured during one of the project monitoring sessions

To promote a healthy and productive marine ecosystem, DOST-MIMAROPA teamed up with the local government of Buenavista to deploy 37 artificial corals, that covers about 324 square meters of the Yook coastal waters, in November 2019.

These cube-shaped reefs are made of pH neutral cement and micro silica, designed to be conducive to coral and algal growth to attract fish population. It is projected that, in two years, half of the reefs will be covered with both soft and hard corals which will significantly increase marine productivity. Initial assessment showed that coral polyps and different species of fish are already visible in the artificial reefs. This means more opportunities will be available for local fishermen.

As a result, fisherfolks and the whole community are now motivated to actively participate in various conservation programs for the improvement of marine habitats and resources since the deployment of these artificial reefs.

The reefs are monitored on a quarterly basis by DOST-Mimaropa through its PSTC in Marinduque in coordination with the LGU of Yook and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Early S&T Interventions for Barangay Yook

This new set of interventions intend to sustain what DOST-Mimaropa has already started in Yook such as the provision of ceramic water filters for improved water quality, hydroponics for women’s livelihood, and solar energy system (SES) for a sustainable power supply.

Besides ensuring an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the poorest households in the community, installed SES at an elementary school in Yook managed to bring great relief to the evacuees when a typhoon struck in Marinduque since it provided enough power for their lighting and ventilation. For this, DOST-Mimaropa received recognition at the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) Innovation Awards under the Government Service Category for making significant strides in improving the quality of life of every Filipino people.

DOST-Mimaropa is a staunch advocate of strengthening grassroots communities through science and technology. The organization hopes that, with their interventions, they can uplift the lives of the people in the region, thereby, enabling them to contribute to the region’s socio-economic development.

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