WWF-PHL, BPI Foundation help vulnerable communities through years of collaboration

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), through its social development arm, BPI Foundation, have forged a longtime partnership to address the effects of climate change in the country.

Joint projects between WWF-Philippines and the BPI Foundation, such as the Climate Change Risk Assessment Initiative (CCRAI), Sulong Pinoy, and Project PagSibol, were recently concluded and have successfully provided climate risk assessments and livelihood projects for vulnerable communities.

Launched in 2019, CCRAI, a multi-year study, provided an assessment of the vulnerabilities of the selected cities of Tarlac, Cabanatuan, Calbayog, and Tagum, proposed bankable and SDG-linked projects, and presented the data to BPI and local government units.

These cities were chosen as they are rich in natural resources but also prone to severe typhoons and flooding. Through CCRAI, the local government units now have access to the findings and thus can utilize them in formulating their Local Climate Change Action Plans.

The partnership between WWF-Philippines and the BPI Foundation also provided livelihood programs for various vulnerable communities.

According to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources MIMAROPA Assistant Director Roberto Abrera, fishers suffered post-harvest losses, or fish spoilage occurring as they transported their catch to the marketplace. In 2015, 25% of post-harvest losses were due to fish spoilage.

Addressing this, the Sulong Pinoy project was implemented  in 2020 which supported a total of 2,536 individuals from fishing communities in Bicol and Mindoro.

Lagonoy Gulf and Mindoro strait tuna fishers received 50 tuna coolers, 50 transponders, two reefer vans, and seven climate-adaptive food shed farming enterprises through the project.

“This is a big deal for our tuna fishers, who need to ensure the freshness of the tuna to gain a higher price in the market. Every extra peso that our partner fishers are able to earn can go a long way towards supporting them and their communities,” WWF-PH Project Manager Joann Binondo said.

To further address poverty by solving the problem of food security for the financially infirm, the partnership also launched Project PagSibol in the same year, which was able to establish 20 community-managed food shed enterprises in 11 low-income communities from Tarlac, Ormoc, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Surigao del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga, and Davao Occidental.

Through the initiative, a total of 499 individuals were directly engaged while 2,037 were provided with access to fresh and quality food. It also facilitated financial literacy sessions along with the creation of 10 functional Group Savings and Loan Associations (GSLAs) in these communities with a total of 1,568,000 pesos in savings.

“Our communities need to be able to take care of themselves. They understand this, and the pandemic has made this all the more apparent. These workshops are the first step in a long process towards helping our farming communities to stand up on their own two feet amid the current climate crisis,” WWF-PH Project Manager Monci Hinay highlighted.

The partnership continues to take on the challenge of aiding food and livelihood security through community-specific programs made possible by years of assessments. The Farm to Table for Fisherfolks project, which will run until 2023, with the goal of helping the local community in Halian, Siargao.

Though recognized as an emerging tourism spot with a marine sanctuary, the island barangay of Halian has limited access to appropriate technology to support livelihood and basic necessities such as stable and safe potable water sources.

With BPI’s help, facilities for fish drying and water purification will also be built to reduce fish spoilage and increase economic and health benefits for the community. Trainings on fish catch documentation and financial literacy will also be conducted to increase the knowledge and capacities of the members.

As the Philippines continues to grapple with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural hunger and livelihood insecurity remain as problems that need to be addressed.

WWF-Philippines and BPI Foundation continue to find solutions to #ChangeTheEnding for our environmental frontliners.