Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

Black Gold of the Sea

Harnessing science to revive Philippine fishing communities

Dr. Lota Creencia is a professor and a scientist at the Western Philippines University (WPU) in Aborlan, Palawan in Southern Luzon. She conducts research geared toward creating sustainable sources of livelihood for coastal communities and protecting marine life.

Several years ago, she noticed the unsustainable rate at which fisherfolk collected a local species of abalone nicknamed "black gold of the sea", a shellfish with high market value. Dr. Creencia started an abalone hatchery in WPU to protect the population of abalone in the wild so that the fishermen will have a sustainable source of livelihood.

In 2015 and 2016, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program awarded Dr. Creencia research grants worth US$173,900 (PhP9.3 million) to support her study on improving abalone production. She used the funding to hire research staff, improve the hatchery facilities, and procure lab equipment.

Through her research, she developed sustainable processes and later trained the local fishermen to grow and harvest abalone in the sea. Three years after Dr. Creencia received the first grant, more than 50 local fisherfolk engage in abalone farming without harming the abalone population and habitat.

Click here to read Dr. Creencia's full story. June 8 is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate our oceans and collaborate for a better future.

Dr. Lota Creencia with other fellow scientists at the Western Philippines University.

Dr. Lota Creencia with other fellow scientists at the Western Philippines University.

USAID trained local fishermen in Western Palawan grow and harvest abalone in the sea.

USAID trained local fishermen in Western Palawan grow and harvest abalone in the sea.

USAID advances electronic payments in CDI cities

The local government of Zamboanga City in Western Mindanao, with technical assistance from USAID’s E-PESO Activity, now disburses quarterly incentives and allowances to government workers and volunteers via electronic payments (e-payment).

More than 8,000 workers including teachers, policemen, jail and fire personnel, barangay intelligence network members, health workers, midwives, nutrition scholars and other volunteers used to receive these allowances in cash. Disbursing these volume payments in cash poses risks, takes too much time to prepare, uses a lot of manpower resources and is prone to errors and inefficiencies. Lining up to receive it is also inconvenient and time-consuming for recipients.

USAID/E-PESO provided technical assistance in the setup of an e-payments technical working group for Zamboanga City, and helped draft the council resolution that legally mandated and enabled the local government to disburse payments and collect real property taxes and fees electronically. USAID/E-PESO also helped facilitate and supported the development of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Zamboanga City and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for the issuance of the reloadable visa-enabled cash cards to the beneficiary workers.

Because of USAID/E-PESO’s interventions in Zamboanga City, the local government was able to save 97 percent of their usual manpower costs compared to when they still disbursed payments in cash. This translates to a US$5,000 (PhP267,200) savings annually for the city government. It also resulted to lesser errors. This intervention also increased financial inclusion in Zamboanga City, as the beneficiaries are now able to conveniently receive their incentives and allowances electronically. They can also now purchase goods, pay real property taxes, and pay local power and water utilities using e-payment through their cash cards.

"We appreciate the efforts and assistance of the USAID/E-PESO in helping Zamboanga City establish e-payments for the disbursement of workers' incentives and allowances. It contributed to the increased safeguarding of these funds, and the convenience of our claimants," said Romelita Candido, City Treasurer of Zamboanga City.

The USAID E-PESO Activity partners and collaborates with the Government of the Philippines and the private sector to achieve a 10% share of electronic payments (e-payment) usage in the country by 2020 to help spur broad-based and inclusive economic development. USAID/E-PESO also provides research, advisory services, partnerships facilitation, and technical assistance to local government units of cities under the USAID Cities Development Initiative (CDI) to support the expansion of e-payment ecosystems in these areas.

USAID/E-PESO continues to provide assistance to counterpart partner local governments in adopting e-payments and increasing usage. It has enabled e-payments for local government transactions in the cities of Quezon, Valenzuela, Zamboanga, and Cagayan de Oro. It is currently working with the cities of Legazpi, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran for the launch of their e-payment facilities this year.

Harlene Villanueva (right) counsels a mother on family planning while being observed by Adelaida Quizon, a midwife from Lipa City District Hospital in Batangas and member of the Provincial Supportive Supervisory Team.

Harlene Villanueva (right) counsels a mother on family planning while being observed by Adelaida Quizon, a midwife from Lipa City District Hospital in Batangas and member of the Provincial Supportive Supervisory Team.

Supportive supervision boosts competence of health workers

Harlene Villanueva is a midwife at Cuenca Rural Health Unit in Batangas, Southern Luzon. Since undergoing the Department of Health’s Family Planning Competency Based Training Basic Course, she has been counseling men and women who desire to either limit or space childbearing.

“There were times, however, when clients would ask questions that I could not answer right away. I usually just refer them to either our doctor or nurse who can better address their concerns,” Harlene shared.

These were the sentiments expressed by Harlene when the Provincial Supportive Supervisory Team of Batangas visited her and her fellow midwives to coach them on how to improve family planning service provision. With the coaching and mentoring, Harlene received technical updates on family planning from the visiting supervisors and her knowledge on family planning was reinforced.

Coaching and mentoring are integral parts of further developing the skills of health service providers after they undergo training. The Province of Batangas, with support from USAID's LuzonHealth Project implemented by RTI International, organized a Provincial Supportive Supervisory Team for Family Planning composed of selected program managers and service providers trained in supportive supervision. The team is tasked to conduct supportive supervisory visits every other month that include coaching and mentoring of health service providers assigned in barangay (village) health stations, rural health units, and district hospitals.

Recently, supportive supervision has also been linked to the conduct of diagnostic workshops which are now being used as an alternative process for the certification of health service providers. Through diagnostic workshops, the skills of trained health service providers in various areas of family planning service provision are assessed. Those found competent are endorsed for proficiency certification, while those who need further improvement in certain areas are scheduled for succeeding supportive supervisory visits. By doing this, service providers are assisted in improving their skills and building their confidence further as they provide quality service until they are ready for certification.

Since April 2018, the Batangas Provincial Supportive Supervisory Team has conducted supportive supervisory visits to 20 family planning-trained health service providers. To date, nearly 900 health service providers in USAID-assisted areas in Luzon, including Batangas, have been trained in supportive supervision. In Batangas, the sustained practice of supportive supervision is expected to further improve the quality of family planning services being provided by its 335 family planning-trained providers to benefit some 99,000 women with unmet need for family planning.

USAID/Philippines Environment Office Director Jeremy Gustasfon (2nd from left) talks about USAID’s energy-related initiatives in the Bohol province.

USAID/Philippines Environment Office Director Jeremy Gustasfon (2nd from left) talks about USAID’s energy-related initiatives in the Bohol province.

Tagbilaran City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso (right) welcomes USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Carrie Thompson at the city hall.

Tagbilaran City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso (right) welcomes USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Carrie Thompson at the city hall.

U.S. government officials interact with partners in CDI cities

USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Carrie Thompson of the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment visited Tagbilaran City in Bohol province, Central Visayas on June 7, 2018 to interact with partners and beneficiaries of USAID. She was accompanied by USAID/Philippines Environment Office Director Jeremy Gustafson and Economic Growth Specialist Emil Francis de Quiros.

Ms. Thompson paid a courtesy call to Bohol Vice Governor Dionisio Balite and Tagbilaran City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso. She joined the ceremonial installation of a water meter in Barangay Manga with officials of the Tagbilaran City Waterworks System (TCWS). USAID's Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project introduced reforms in the operations of the TCWS and facilitated a partnership between the TCWS and Maynilad Water Services Inc. For ten years, the TCWS had no capital outlay and was operating at a loss, and consumers complained of intermittent water services. The technical assistance provided by USAID/SURGE and Maynilad resulted in improved practices in determining non-revenue water through a district meter area approach, ring-fencing of the waterworks account to determine assets and liabilities that revealed huge unpaid bills, crafting a business plan for TCWS, building the capacity of water meter readers, and enhancing the billing and collection system. With improved operations, the TCWS’s water bill collections increased by 34 percent, from US$224,800 (PhP12 million) in 2016 to US$303,500 (PhP16.2 million) in 2017. This prompted the city government to invest in upgrading old water meters and pipes in three other district meter areas, and share lessons learned to other government-run water systems in Bohol province.

Ms. Thompson also interacted with public and private sector partners of the city government and USAID/SURGE, and learned how USAID/SURGE assisted the city government in improving its business permits and licensing system (BPLS). The streamlined BPLS resulted in US$22.4 million (PhP1.2 billion) worth of capitalization from new businesses, following the annual business registration period in January 2018.

On April 19, 2018, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim visited Iloilo City and paid a courtesy call to Mayor Jose Espinosa III. Mayor Espinosa expressed his gratitude to the U.S. government for helping boost the local economy and resilience of Iloilo City. For the past two decades, USAID, through various projects, made an impact in the city’s economic growth, education, health, environment and urban development.

U.S. Ambassador Kim also interacted with key leaders of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. (ILEDF), the Iloilo Business Club and heads of universities during a lunch meeting. Narzalina Lim, chairperson of ILEDF, talked about the accomplishments of USAID projects that contributed to the city’s competitiveness and positive business climate. U.S. Ambassador Kim commended the business community for its commitment to Iloilo City's growth.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III.

Facade of the Iloilo Science and Technology University in Iloilo City.

Facade of the Iloilo Science and Technology University in Iloilo City.

USAID/STRIDE Chief of Party Dr. David Hall at the Research Hub.

USAID/STRIDE Chief of Party Dr. David Hall at the Research Hub.

Research Hub to spur industry-academia research collaborations in Iloilo

In May 2018, the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISATU) in Iloilo City in Iloilo province, Central Visayas, unveiled its US$841,900 (PhP45 million) five-story research facility which houses several research laboratories and R&D support offices. The building, called the Research Hub, is ISATU’s latest move to address the need for more meaningful partnerships between the industry and academia in Iloilo province.

The Research Hub features co-working spaces where researchers, business experts, and other sectors can meet and discuss emerging technology research to enable active sharing of knowledge and information among the different stakeholders. ISATU President Dr. Raul Muyong said the building was intended to serve not only ISATU but also the other sectors of the community.

USAID through the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program has supported the development of ISATU’s capacity to work with industry partners through different initiatives. ISATU has been part of USAID STRIDE’s Knowledge and Technology Transfer Office workshops which help universities establish an industry-facing office to initiate and manage industry-academia partnership activities. The university also received US$374,200 (PhP20 million) worth of in research grants that encouraged scientists to conduct research with industry partners.

“When industries come to this building, they’re going to feel comfortable and at ease. They’re not going to feel threatened because they can see things happening that are relevant to them. They are going to feel that what this has is something they can work with,” explained Dr. David Hall, Chief of Party of USAID/STRIDE.

Representatives of the industry and scientific communities also expressed optimism that the newly inaugurated building will spur more scientific research in the region.

“Usually, new ideas come from the industry because we know the market, but we need someone with technical background who can help us develop the best products for the people,” said Jan Sollesta, Maridan Industries Vice President of Production.

Since 2015, ISATU has received five USAID-funded research grants that has helped address a range of issues, from food security to product development, affecting both local communities and businesses. Three of these studies were conducted in collaboration with industry partners while the other two were done in consultation with local community cooperatives.

ISATU aims for its Research Hub to lead to more research collaborations with tangible benefits. Dr. Carmerlo Ambut, ISATU Vice President for Research and Extension, noted that the building is a testament to the university’s strong commitment to pursue research. He also emphasized that one of the main functions of the building is to successfully enable technology transfer.

“Two years from now, we should have our own success story to tell,” said Dr. Ambut .

Baliwag Water District (BWD) General Manager Artemio Baylosis (3rd from left) and General Santos City Water District (GSCWD) General Manager Arn Gellangarin (4th from left) sign a Memorandum of Understanding for BWD to assist GSCWD in the establishment and operation of a septage treatment system.

Baliwag Water District (BWD) General Manager Artemio Baylosis (3rd from left) and General Santos City Water District (GSCWD) General Manager Arn Gellangarin (4th from left) sign a Memorandum of Understanding for BWD to assist GSCWD in the establishment and operation of a septage treatment system.

Improving sanitation services for healthier communities

For years, General Santos City has worked toward reducing pollution and addressing septage problems of its communities, and more importantly, of the Water Quality Management Areas—areas that include watersheds and river basins—which the city is a part of.

In an effort to foster an expansive, resilient and sustainable approach to development, USAID's SURGE Project assisted the city government and the General Santos City Water District (GSCWD) pursue partnerships for better septage management.

Early this year, USAID/SURGE brought representatives of the GSCWD and the General Santos City government to Bulacan to visit the Baliwag Water District (BWD) septage facility. The BWD is one of the pioneers in septage management in the country, and mentors other water utilities toward improving their sanitation services after receiving similar assistance from USAID. USAID/SURGE facilitated a partnership between the two water utilities, formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on May 18, 2018. The MOU enables the exchange of best practices, expertise and technology in septage management.

USAID/SURGE and BWD are assisting GSCWD update its septage management feasibility study, prepare the terms of reference in designing and constructing a desludging treatment system and acquiring desludging feet, and conduct capacity building activities to enhance the knowledge and skills of GSCWD in effectively operating and monitoring a septage treatment system. These are part of USAID/SURGE’s technical assistance to the city to improve the delivery of sanitation services.

Legazpi City showcases 3-D map for urban resilience

Barangay Padang, Legazpi City in Southern Luzon showcased its 3-dimensional map to visiting officials USAID/Washington Office of Civil Rights and Diversity Director Kimberly Lewis and USAID/Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II on May 17, 2018. The 3-D map was developed last year through the technical assistance of USAID's SURGE Project, to serve as an education and disaster risk assessment tool. It was created as a result of a participatory process led by the Barangay Council and representatives of the community such as mothers, children, barangay health workers and volunteers.

The map is housed in Barangay Padang’s Elementary School to help educate students from grades 1 to 6 on disaster risk reduction. The 3-D map illustrates the various types of hazards the village is vulnerable to, and also determines which areas are prioritized for evacuation. It serves as a model of the features of the village such as the number of critical facilities and infrastructures, population per household, location of people, and probable adverse impact of hazards. Barangay Padang was selected by the city government to be the pilot village for participatory 3-D mapping because of its high risk to volcanic eruption. Among the 70 barangays of Legazpi City, Barangay Padang had the most number of casualties during the downpour of lahar from Mayon volcano due Typhoon Reming (international name Durian) in 2006.

During the visit to the city, Ms. Lewis and Mr. Hardy also paid a courtesy call to Mayor Noel Rosal. Mayor Rosal described the impact of USAID’s technical assistance to the city, particularly the SURGE Project that helped increase revenues of the city government and resulting in the the allocation of more funds for disaster risk reduction and management programs. Ms. Lewis and Mr. Hardy, accompanied by USAID/Philippines Urban Planning Specialist Marian Cruz-Navata, were also briefed on how the city government maintains its ‘zero casualty’ goal during disasters. The city government is developing multi-purpose evacuation centers to cater to victims of typhoons and volcanic eruption. The recent eruption of Mayon volcano early this year displaced about 15,000 people from the city. Moreover, Mr. Hardy and Ms. Lewis had the opportunity to meet Engr. Miladee Azur, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, who demonstrated the city government's web-based and mobile application disaster information dissemination tool Balangay Legazpi.

Barangay Chairman Manuel Alagaban Sr. (2nd from right) describes to USAID officials the features of the 3D map they developed with the assistance of USAID/SURGE in 2017.

Barangay Chairman Manuel Alagaban Sr. (2nd from right) describes to USAID officials the features of the 3D map they developed with the assistance of USAID/SURGE in 2017.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal (2nd from right) explains to USAID Officials the importance of having a clear communication protocol in the entire city as a key strategy to maintain the city's zero casualty goal during disasters.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal (2nd from right) explains to USAID Officials the importance of having a clear communication protocol in the entire city as a key strategy to maintain the city's zero casualty goal during disasters.

Volunteers from USAID Protect Wildlife partners in Zamboanga City join the Earth Month cleanup in Santa Cruz Island.

Volunteers from USAID Protect Wildlife partners in Zamboanga City join the Earth Day cleanup in Santa Cruz Island.

The Office of the City Environment and Natural Resources segregate the trash collected during the island cleanup.

The Office of the City Environment and Natural Resources segregate the trash collected during the island cleanup.

Zamboanga City celebrates Earth Month in Santa Cruz with island cleanup

In commemoration of Earth Month, volunteers from the Zamboanga City government, local units of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and project partners organized a cleanup at the Greater Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City on April 28, 2018. They collected around 60 kilos of trash that washed ashore in the island’s famous pink sand beach. The cleanup was an opportunity to promote reduction of marine litter and to encourage responsible ecotourism practices in protected areas such as Santa Cruz.

The Protected Area Management Unit (PAMU) of Santa Cruz also opened to the local media a portion of the proposed eco-trekking trail in the island’s mangrove area to give a sneak peek of new low-impact ecotourism activities that Santa Cruz has to offer. Aside from helping the PAMU and local partners enhance the management plan for Santa Cruz to ensure its wildlife habitats are protected, USAID through Protect Wildlife is also assisting in mounting a campaign to promote positive behaviors for conservation targeted for tourists who visit Santa Cruz. While the protected area is the city’s prime tourist destination, Santa Cruz is also a nesting site for marine turtles and a home to various marine wildlife in its coral reefs and mangroves.

Western Mindanao protected area managers gather for regional summit

In May 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 9 and USAID’s Protect Wildlife Project hosted the 2nd Regional Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Summit in Zamboanga City. The summit gathered PAMB members and stakeholders from the 12 protected areas under DENR Region 9 to discuss the need for more collaboration to effectively manage their protected areas, particularly in conservation, protection, development and enforcement.

Resource persons from other regions in Mindanao shared to Region 9 participants their experiences in managing and developing their protected areas through fruitful collaboration with the local government, civil society and other concerned stakeholders. At the two-day summit, USAID/Protect Wildlife assisted the participants from the different PAMBs in updating the overall status and latest development in their respective protected areas, which will feed into their action plans. The project also hosted a learning tour of the Pasanonca Natural Park and Santa Cruz Islands to share best practices in managing terrestrial, coastal and marine protected areas in Zamboanga City.

Towards the end of the event, the summit also sought to lay the foundation for a PAMB Executive Committee for Region 9, which will link and strengthen ties with other protected area networks in Mindanao.

Participants of the DENR Region 9 PAMB Summit learn from good practices in working with various sectors and stakeholders to improve the management of protected areas.

Participants of the DENR Region 9 PAMB Summit learn from good practices in working with various sectors and stakeholders to improve the management of protected areas.

CDI partner cities in the Philippines.

CDI partner cities in the Philippines.

Cities Development Initiative

USAID is working to strengthen the economic competitiveness and resilience of secondary cities outside of Metro Manila through its Cities Development Initiative (CDI). The CDI seeks to advance the development of secondary cities as agents of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient. Depending on the most urgent needs of the city, USAID provides a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education to assist the cities achieve resilience and inclusive growth.

The CDI is a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth with Equity, a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. The partnership aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies. USAID has eight CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

Click here to learn more about the CDI.

For more information on USAID's projects in the Philippines, click here.

Contact Us
 

USAID SURGE Project
9/F Salcedo Towers
169 H.V. Dela Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Philippines 1227
Tel. +63 2 8878743
Email: comm@surge.org.ph

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