Empowering Rural Women: Community Savings Group Leader joins online dialogue in support of UN Food Systems Summit 2021

In celebration of the International Day of Rural Women tomorrow, we honor Alma Bayawan and her dedication to empowering her community towards resilience by promoting sustainable livelihoods.

“As a leader of our Community Savings Group, I will share with my members the importance of planting more types of crops and use practical ways to increase our crop production and would increase income and most especially we will ensure that our families have food to eat,” Alma Bayawan, Uswag CSG Leader

Bilang leader sa among Community Savings Group (CSG), akong I share sa akong mga members ang importansya sa pagtanom ug pag gamit sa praktikal nga paagi aron mas modaghan among tanom ug makadugang sa income ug masiguro nga adunay makaon among mga pamilya, shares Alma.

Alma is the incumbent leader of the Uswag CSG in Barangay Illomavis, Kidapawan City. On September 9, 2021, she represented her community as she participated in the Food Systems Independent Dialogue, ‘Building Resilient Local Food Systems by 2030’ which was last spearheaded online by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR).

Alma joins the Food Systems Independent Dialogue: Building Resilient Local Food Systems by 2030 online via Zoom | © Photo by Roger Cabiles for Action Against Hunger

She provided her insights from the discussion, wherein she mentions, Natun-an nako nga dili lang dapat isa ka klase ang itanom sa uma, mas mayo nga magtanom pud ug laing klase nga tanom nga mohaum sa klima sa among lugar ug mosukol sa taas nga init o kanunay nga pag-ulan sama sa kamoteng kahoy o kamoteng balagon. Aside sa makadugang kini sa among income, aduna pud kami dugang nga kakuhaan ug pagkaon sa among mga pamilya.”

“I learned that I should not rely on a single variety of crop to be planted in the field, it is better also to plant other types of crops that will suit the climate of our place and could resist in drought or frequent rains such as cassava or sweet potato. Aside from increasing our income, we would also have additional sources of food for our families.”

The main objective of the activity is to solicit concrete actionable commitments from various stakeholders. These will be their contribution to the quest in ensuring safe and nutritious food for all, which is also in support of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.

© Photo by Roger Cabiles for Action Against Hunger

“Daghan kong natun-an sa akong pag apil gahapon sa virtual dialogue. Una, na meet nako ang uban nga participants sa laing lugar nga pareha pud nako usa ka farmer ug padayon nga naningkamot sa pagtanom aron maka income ug adunay makaon ang pamilya,” she said. Alma hopes to share with her fellow members the resilient strategies she had learned from the dialogue with her fellow CSG members.

“I have learned a lot from my participation in the virtual dialogue, I met other participants in other places who are also farmers like me and continued to grow crops to earn an income and have food for the family,”

Like Alma, we recognize the work of rural women ─ they are real-life heroines in the world’s food systems. “Uswag” means ‘develop’ and agreeably, rural women’s significant contributions to nutrition, food security, and climate resilience put their communities on the right path towards sustainable development.

© Photo by Louie Bullanday for Action Against Hunger

The Food Systems Independent Dialogue was convened by IIRR in partnership with the Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Security, Inc. (PhiLCAN), Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians, Inc. (PSND), PROLINNOVA Philippines Country Platform (PROLINNOVA), and Scaling Up Nutrition-Civil Society Alliance Philippines (SUN-CSA PH). Action Against Hunger is a member of PhiLCAN.

Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is a consortium project that offers durable solutions in terms of capacitating local governments and communities in mitigating the adverse socio-economic effects of disasters. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 4 is implemented by Action Against HungerPlan InternationalCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.

Written by Roger Cabiles, Jr. | Edited by  Joyce Sandajan.

MOVE UP team co-evaluates landslide simulation drill in Kidapawan City

KIDAPAWAN CITY — Action Against Hunger, under the MOVE UP 4 Project, served as one of the evaluators for the community landslide simulation drill in Sitio Embasi last September 16, 2021. The drill was facilitated by the local government of Barangay Perez, Kidapawan City in accordance with the 3rd Quarter Nationwide Earthquake Simulation Drill.

Aside from the Action Against Hunger’s MOVE UP team, representatives from the Philippine Red Cross, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) & City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) of Kidapawan evaluated the said simulation activity.

Sitio Embasi is one of the highly hazard-prone areas in Barangay Perez because of its steep location. The remote community was heavily affected during the landslide caused by the October 2019 Mindanao Earthquakes. This negatively impacted as many as 90 families who have been displaced since. To date, many of these families are still residing in evacuation centers since the relocation site organized by the Kidapawan City governments is yet to be completed.

The simulation drill began at exactly 9:10 a.m., kicking off with the community alarm siren and signaling the evacuation of about 30 families living in the area.
During the simulation, the barangay local government unit (BLGU) responded promptly to the ‘landslide victims’ who had fled their homes.
A triage and first aid station for casualties were also established.

Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Information Office

Meanwhile, the barangay social workers assisted in the evacuation of the families and then facilitated the distribution of food relief who were relocated to Datu Igwas Integrated IP School. Similar to actual emergency situations, the said school was turned into an evacuation center during the drill.

Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Information Office

One of the potential challenges raised during the activity was the evacuation of families with COVID-19 exposure—those who are undergoing isolation or quarantine. This is where members of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) were called in to assist in the evacuation. Their main role is to ensure that suspected, probable, and confirmed COVID patients will not infect others should an evacuation take place.

In photo: First responders act out a rescue situation during the landslide simulation drill at Sitio Embasi, Barangay Perez last September 16. 2021. (Photo courtesy of Kidapawan City Information Office)

The roles of MOVE UP and other evaluators at the scene were to measure and determine the community’s preparedness in the event of a landslide in their area. As a result, any gaps or areas for improvement noted from the activity were expected to be addressed in the barangay’s evacuation plans.

Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is a consortium project that offers durable solutions in terms of capacitating local governments and communities in mitigating the adverse socio-economic effects of disasters. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 4 is implemented by Action Against HungerPlan InternationalCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.

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Real Life Heroes – Lyndon Arbes

For  Lyndon Arbes, being able to spark change and making a lasting impact in society is both his pride and joy. The drive to help others in need emanates from a propensity to put himself in the others’ shoes. This, he shares, is rooted in his personal experience during his humble beginnings.

Now working as the Deputy Head of Project for our MOVE UP Mindanao project, Lyndon shares with us the lessons he gained from his 22 years of working as a humanitarian worker, or rather, as a real-life hero.

What is your role in Action Against Hunger?

I am currently the Deputy Head of Project for the Moving Urban Poor in Mindanao Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 4) project. My role for the project is to manage, coordinate, implement, monitor, and evaluate all the activities in Action Against Hunger in strengthening the resilience of the urban poor against human, natural and climate-induced hazards. We do this by building and supporting the capacities of communities on resilient livelihoods. The project also advocates for the inclusion of alternative temporary shelters, technical assistance on camp management, social protection, and/or risk-transfer modalities in local government disaster risk reduction management plans.

Photo courtesy of Lyndon Arbes

How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?

I have been in the development work and humanitarian for 22 years now.

What motivated you to become a humanitarian worker?

Coming from a poor family, I fully understand how difficult life can be. I empathize with communities, especially with our farmers and other vulnerable sectors, who have experienced devastating impacts of disasters—losing livelihoods over and over, or grieving over lost lives.

Being a development and humanitarian worker is a noble work and profession that provides me the opportunity to give back to the people in need. Through my work, I am able to help others improve their socio-economic condition, protect their lives and livelihoods, and enabling them to withstand and bounce back after disasters. Seeing their faces brimming with so much joy is what inspires me most.


Why are you making this sacrifice?

We are all human and everyone deserves help. We need to care for others the same way we care for ourselves, and our families.


Photo courtesy of Lyndon Arbes


What have been the challenges to your work?

Working in the development sector is sometimes a very complex process considering that communities we work with have different social, cultural, and political contexts. So, sometimes you need to be creative and innovative in the ways you advocate them. Adding to this challenge is the current COVID-19 pandemic which brings us certain limitations. But we make our maximizing our efforts now more than ever in enabling communities to be more vigilant in case of potential crises, while at the same time learning to exercise caution against COVID-19.

What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?

Working with farmers and the most vulnerable sector of our community has always been my passion. Seeing them transform their lives with smiles on their faces gives me a sense of fulfillment, and also my source of motivation.

What are you most proud of?

In my 22 years of working with humanitarian organizations, what I am most proud of is being part of a community that is helping improve the lives of many with the utmost sincerity and passion. I am proud to have this as my legacy.

Just recently, we were able to mobilize around twenty-seven community savings groups in Kidapawan City with total savings, social funds, and livelihood amounting to 1.5 million pesos. These savings came directly from all the members, which they managed to accumulate in less than a year. It makes me proud how a change in their mindset and attitude has allowed them to achieve this milestone—not only are they financially literate and independent but they are also more prepared and resilient.

Photo by Jan Azucena for Action Against Hunger

What climate change impact have you seen with your own eyes?

Climate change is real, and it’s been happening not only now but even way back. If you saw on TV that the glaciers are continuously melting which is resulting in rising sea levels, this means changes in our climate patterns are now being characterized by extreme weather events. The fact that El Niño and La Niña are becoming more intense is one of the many shreds of evidence that climate change is real.

How are you taking action against climate change?

Climate Change is a global issue but solutions can be started right at the community level. There are plenty of ways we can do to fight climate change. One is to simply reduce our own carbon footprints. We can also plant more trees and advocate for change—change other people’s attitudes and be more caring towards our environment.

Photo courtesy of Lyndon Arbes

Moving Urban Poor Communities Toward Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is an urban disaster risk reduction (DRR) project which aims to build resilience among urban poor communities in Mindanao. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 4—also known as MOVE UP Mindanao—is implemented by a consortium of partners consisting of Action Against Hunger PhilippinesPlan International PhilippinesCARE Philippines, and their local partner ACCORD Incorporated. Read more