Community Empowerment is about building active and sustainable communities.

Engr. Mario G. Montejo
Secretary, DOST

Lives lost or lives put on hold – these were the remnants of Yolanda, the super typhoon that devastated the Visayas islands, particularly Region 8, with Jaro, Leyte and Basey, Samar as two of the most shattered towns.

Yolanda left these two towns in ruins and several inhabitants homeless and unemployed. People to this date rely on relief efforts initiated by the Philippine and foreign governments. However, relief operations are notforever. It thenbecomes important to implement practical mechanisms to empower the people who live in these areas.

In his visit to Jaro and Basey, Secretary Montejo said,“Kinahanglan natong ud buliganin inga mga para gumanga biktimahan bagyo nga makatindog otro ha ira mga panginabuhi. Kami ha DOST, naniniguro nga makabulig pinaagi hin syensya ngan teknolohiya.(We really need to help these farmers that were victims of the typhoon to recover their livelihood. We at DOST are trying hard to help through science and technology).

DOST’s response to help farmers regain their livelihood is a program called Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) which, according to Sec. Montejo will help alleviate poverty. CEST provides community-based livelihood that will be run by the community itself through respective LGUs and the people.

The project lays down S&T interventions to improve the economic condition of the municipalities of Jaro, Leyte and Basey, Samar. In particular, the CEST program will:

  • provide technology and innovation support system to boost the production efficiency of the existing small enterprises in the area;
  • conduct trainings and provide technical consultancy that will serve as corridors for livelihood opportunities for the community;
  • establish an S&T information center to motivate intellectual enrichment in the community;
  • introduce highly nutritious supplemental food products developed by DOST- Food and Nutrition Research Institute to address the gap between health and malnutrition;
  • install Automated Weather Station facilities that will raise awareness and help build people’s resilience to climate change;
  • install water purifying system stations in Basey and Jaro barangays that have no access to potable water.

The CEST program components will be implemented by various DOST agencies such as the FNRI, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquaculture Research and Development (PCAARD), Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Science and Technology Information Institute (STII), Industrial Technology Development Institution (ITDI), Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), and the Metal Industry Research and Development Council (MIRDC). Other agencies that will be involved in the program are the Visayas State University (VSU) that has expertise in R&D in Agriculture, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through its Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda (RAY).

Package of assistance to MSMEs
The Secretary likewise visited a SETUP-assisted furniture production business based in Brgy. Legaspi in Marabut town. SETUP, or Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program, is DOST’s package of assistance that offers technology innovations to improve the operations and expand business reach of micro, small, and medium enterprises. Marabut, meanwhile, is among Samar’s most devastated towns hit by Yolanda.

Furniture shop owners Ludigarion Cinco and wife Vilma informed the Secretary during his visit that most of their wood materials for furniture making were swept away by the rushing water that engulfed their production area as well as their house. For others, this loss is devastating but the entrepreneur in Vilma pushed the business to rise from the muck and the shop was soon awhirl with projects, churning various furniture and other wood based items.

After eye-opening talks with other CEST Program beneficiary-municipalities, Sec. Montejo and his party went to visit some other typhoon affected areas in Tacloban City. A dinner meeting with Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla brokered possible DOST assistance to other affected Leyte municipalities. Montejo identified several projects and, along with Engr. Edgardo Esperancilla, DOST-VIII regional director, discussed exhaustibly other possible areas of cooperation between DOST and the provincial government to address the needs of the communities.

Sec. Montejo’s visit promoting the CEST program gave embers of hope to the local executives and constituents of Jaro, Leyte and Basey, Samar, assuring them of a partner in their rehabilitation efforts. To help “put back the lives” of aggravated constituents is the marching order given by Sec. Montejo to DOST VIII, thus the regional office takes the lead in implementing the program at the soonest possible time.

Community empowerment is indeed high on the current policy agenda of the government. The DOSTis leading the drive to “enable more people to play an active role in the decisions that affect their communities,” so said Sec. Montejo. Currently, the Department has introduced practical mechanisms to contribute to community empowerment, such as industry development, health and nutrition, basic education and literacy, public safety, agriculture, and fisheries. There is also a need for comprehensive understanding of what community empowerment looks and feels like.

As Sec. Montejo said, “Community empowerment is about building active and sustainable communities.”

“It is about changing structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives,” he added.

news-DOST helps rebuild lives Yolanda victims1-05072014
Sec. Montejo demonstrates the use of ceramics filter to Mayor Rolando T. Celebre of the Municipality of Jaro. With them are Dir. Esperancilla (in green t-shit) and FNRI Director Dr. Mario V. Capanzana.

news-DOST helps rebuild lives Yolanda victims2-05072014
Sec. Montejo checks a wood plank used by the furniture shop in Marabut, Samar.

news-DOST helps rebuild lives Yolanda victims3-05072014
Sec. Montejo gives directive to DOST VIII for the fastracking of the CEST program implementation.

news-DOST helps rebuild lives Yolanda victims4-05072014
Sec. Montejo delivers his message to the people of Jaro, Leyte.

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