Environment and Rural Development Program
Title: Environment and Rural Development Program
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); Department of Agriculture (DA)
Overall term: 2005 to 2015
Despite economic growth, the proportion of the population of the Philippines living below the poverty line is rising – it exceeds 50 per cent in some rural areas. The continuing degradation of natural resources is threatening the livelihoods of the rural poor, a situation further aggravated by increasing food prices. Furthermore, frequent natural disasters cause damage to crops and property, placing an even greater strain on poor rural population groups. Typhoon Haiyan, for instance, destroyed the livelihoods of many people on the islands of Leyte and Samar in November 2013.
According to government estimates, a quarter of the population (some 25 million people) live in forest areas without any secure land use rights and with highly inadequate social services. The prevailing inequalities, especially the lack of legally secure access to land, give rise to serious disputes within society and repeatedly lead to armed conflicts.
The government departments and institutions responsible manage natural resources in a manner that focuses on sustainability, disaster and conflict prevention. The population produces sufficient food to make the country less susceptible to the high world market prices for foodstuffs.
The project focuses on the Visayas region in the western Philippines, in particular the islands of Leyte, Samar, Panay and Negros. In collaboration with representatives of the provincial government, the project is working on activities concerned with land use and development planning, disaster risk management, community-based forest management, and coastal zone management. Through the promotion of agroforestry practices and the formation of alliances for the use of marine resources in accordance with the guidelines and standards of a standardised fisheries ordinance, the rural population can generate higher incomes and produce more food. The project is working with representatives of government departments, local authorities and civil society groups to devise strategies and action plans to conserve natural resources.
Immediately after Typhoon Haiyan, the project provided emergency aid in the form of seeds, fertilisers, solar lamps and materials to repair fishing boats and equipment. Subsequently, the project has been helping affected communities to draw up and execute reconstruction plans. The partners are preparing new hazard maps and revised land use plans, and the project is providing engineering expertise for the reconstruction of schools and town halls.
Over 90 per cent of the community and target group representatives surveyed confirmed that policy-making and the management of natural resources have improved. Other communities and development partners are now adopting the tried-and-tested approaches.
In order to improve spatial planning in the Philippines, particularly in rural areas, an approach called SIMPLE (Sustainable Integrated Management and Planning for Local Government Ecosystems) has been developed and successfully implemented in various pilot regions. In mid-2014, the spatial planning authority (Housing and Land use Regulatory Board, HLURB) adopted new guidelines on land use planning that incorporated many elements of SIMPLE and drew on lessons learned from its application. The project is supporting HLURB in rolling out the system across the country.