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Del Carmen, Siargao Island and the realities of adaptation

by Danica Supnet

Denise, Janssen and I represented ICSC in a field visit to Del Carmen in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte to take part in the appraisal of the municipality’s proposal to the People’s Survival Fund (PSF). The institute is the non-governmental representative to the PSF board, which was also represented in the appraisal team by colleagues from the Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO) of the Department of Finance and the PSF secretariat under the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

Their PSF proposal, a climate field school for farmers and fisherfolks, is one of the first full ones submitted to the board, and the appraisal is part of the last steps in getting its final approval.

Del Carmen is a fifth-class municipality and one of the pilot local LGUs of the CCC’s Ecotown program. The town slowly developed their own climate change adaptation plan which covered agro-fishery and mangrove protection, disaster risk reduction, social tourism, and health.

Our team joined the very first appraisals of proposals by local governments to access the money to empower their communities to adapt to climate impacts. This is because ICSC is the civil society observer of the board for the People’s Survival Fund.

Their next target component is food security in the face of climate impacts. As Mayor Coro remarked, “we keep on preparing for disaster, but not for food security.”

The Surigao State College of Technology is the implementing partner of the municipality. It will host the climate field school that will serve as the training ground for farmers and fisherfolks on climate-resilient agriculture and agro-fishery.

To learn about climate change adaptation, the LGU has collaborated with national government agencies and learned from the experiences of non-government organizations and universities around the country. But Mayor Coro said it was still not enough to just localize these learnings. He reiterated that, at the end, it is the economic value of their climate change adaptation programs that enable them to become a habit of his constituents.

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The farmers and fisherfolks we spoke with are aware of the slow-onset impacts of climate change and how it greatly affects their livelihoods. In fact, they are looking forward to the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills through the training.

At first I thought that Del Carmen’s proposal is quite ambitious, but their stories underscored the realities that make the proposed climate field school very important to them. They are working towards an adaptation strategy that would sustain what they started. And as Mayor Coro told us, we must continue to challenge the norms, because we have nothing to lose.

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