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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Carigara farmers getting back on their feet

When Typhoon Yolanda left the country, it left a trail of devastation. It swept away loved ones, homes and the source of income of many Filipinos, especially in hard hit areas of Leyte and Samar. Despite the vast amounts and different kinds of international and local aid given, the national government’s reaction has been slow. Now, three months after the disaster, not much has changed.

Barangay Canlampay, for example, is a farming community in Carigara, Leyte. According to Guillermo Panal, Canlampay’s Barangay Captain, when Typhoon Yolanda struck, 95% of the homes were totally damaged, brought down by a combination of strong winds and weak construction materials. Their sources of income were affected as well, with the winds damaging and uprooting the coconut trees and the floods engulfing their fields.

Today, the community is still dependent on relief goods for food. There is no clear rehabilitation plan or action from the higher government. All they have received are 10 blankets and tarpaulins for the whole barangay of 903 individuals. They still await when promises of gaining electricity and the rehabilitation of the coconut trees would be fulfilled.Delia Darantinaw, president of the Municipal Farmers’ Association of Carigara (MUFAC), is critical of the situation.

“It would have been more difficult for us to recover from the tragedy if we depended on the national government alone. Our association has taken the lead in rebuilding what we had lost. Through empowering the community, pushing them in taking an active role in planning and implementation of programs, and reaching out to non-government organizations for support”, she stated.

The MUFAC is busy trying to implement their irrigation and vegetable garden programs to help the community produce their own food again. Preparation of the plains is in progress. Fast growing vegetables, such as gabi or taro and sweet potato, are encouraged to be grown in home gardens to help the community get by without having to eat only relief goods. Helping out each other is what the organization stresses, especially in times of disaster.

However, Darantinaw said they need farming tools, animals and seeds. They have repeatedly asked the local government of Carigara for assistance but the municipality has yet to heed their requests for these. They appealed to organizations and individuals to help them get back on their feet through supporting their sustainable agriculture rehabilitation plans.

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