This Tuesday (8 September 2015), 18 barangays in Cagayan de Oro committed to a health and resiliency project supported by Johanniter International. The commitment took place during a Partners Meeting held at the Balay Mindanaw Peace Center in Bulua for the project “Community-based Disaster and Health Preparedness to Strengthen the Resilience of 18 Disaster-Prone Barangays in Cagayan de Oro City”.
“The money for this project comes from the people of Germany, and it goes to the people of Cagayan de Oro,” said Asuntha Charles, the country director for Johanniter International who was present during the commitment signing. “This is why we emphasize transparency and accountability. We are happy to be working again with Balay Mindanaw, which in our previous partnerships ensured transparency through the participation of local communities.”
“One thing I appreciated from past projects was that the communities made the resources bigger,” added Charles. Charles was referring to the community-based approach to project implementation which was a key to the success of previous partnerships between Johanniter and Balay Mindanaw. The projects had put emphasis on community counterparts. Counterparting not only helps extend and generate more resources, but is one way of ensuring community ownership in what is, in essence, a community project rather than a purely donor-driven one.
The project’s objectives include strengthening the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) councils of the 18 barangays, as well as upgrading four strategic health centers in barangays Tablon, Bulua, Mambuaya and Lumbia to improve access to primary health care. The project also aims to reduce dengue cases through information-education campaigns and the introduction of technologies that control dengue-carrying mosquitoes. For the health-related component, in particular, counterparting will be critical as each barangay has different needs.
All participating barangays signed the banner at the end of the activity, which symbolized not only their commitment to the project but to building the health and resilience of their communities as well.
The partners’ enthusiasm was understandable: Cagayan de Oro is located by the Bohol Sea, to which two major rivers and several streams flow. In addition, the South and the East of the city are mountainous. These special features make the city extremely vulnerable to floods and landslides.
“Forty-five to fifty percent of the total land area of barangay Macasandig is vulnerable to a Sendong-like disaster,” shared Punong Barangay Ernesto Edrote, referring to the 2011 Tropical Storm that killed over a thousand people with flash floods. Edrote’s barangay is located partially in the river valley to the East of Cagayan de Oro river, and partially along the slopes leading up to the mountain province of Bukidnon.
In addition to being disaster-prone, Macasandig is among the dengue-prone barangays which is seen to benefit from the project’s focus on dengue prevention and primary health care. Cagayan de Oro has registered the highest number of dengue cases in the whole of Northern Mindanao last year. In addition, the development of the health centers will capacitate more barangays to address minor illnesses, thus decongesting the city’s two public hospitals, the J.R. Borja Memorial City Hospital and the Northern Mindanao Medical Center.
“This is why there are no words to express our engagement with Balay Mindanaw except for thanks,” continued Edrote. “From the start, they have given continuing guidance particularly assistance in organizing of the BDRRMC and BDC.” The barangay has been a Balay Mindanaw partner since 2012.
The commitment signing marks the beginning of another partnership between the 18 barangays, the City of Cagayan de Oro, Johanniter International and Balay Mindanaw. It is, however, not without challenges.
“Health is certainly a difficult service to deliver,” said City Mayor Oscar Moreno in his message to the barangays. “DRR is another difficult service. Our strategy is to appreciate ourselves… to enhance our capacity as a result of this program.”
“Let us ensure that the project will be successful,” Moreno continued, “so that more development partners will be encouraged to come to Cagayan de Oro.”
The eighteen participating barangays are Balulang, Bonbon, Bulua, Camaman-an, Carmen, Gusa, Iponan, Kauswagan, Lapasan, Lumbia, Macasandig, Mambuaya, Pagatpat, Patag, Tablon, Tignapoloan, Tuburan and Tumpagon. All barangays were represented during the meeting by the Punong Barangay or their representative as well as BDRRMC members.