3,000 families undergo ‘work for food’ training PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:12

At least 3,000 mostly fisher-farmer families affected by the 23-day siege last September are currently undergoing a “work for food” training under the auspices of the United Nations World Food Programme.

City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat, focal person of the Emergency Livelihood Cluster of the Zamboanga City Early Recovery/Recovery Coordination Structure, said the “work for food” beneficiaries are mostly agar-agar farmers and fisher folks who lost their livelihood to the armed conflict.

“Some of these families were evacuees housed in the different evacuation centers while others were off the evacuation centers but were affected by the siege,” Palacat said.

Under the program, Palacat explained, the affected families are given trainings/jobs in exchange for food like rice. Each family is entitled to 7 kilos of rice a day and that will be given after a week’s work, which translates to 49 kilos of rice every week for each family. The program is good for three months.

Palacat further said the program already started Tuesday wherein the beneficiaries’ first job was cleaning up the debris in the coastal areas of the siege barangays of Rio Hondo, Mariki, Mampang and Arena Blanco.

“For the first day, we were able to collect hundreds of sacks full of debris that appeared like relief goods. With the program, we are hitting two birds with one stone; cleaning our environment at the same time helping the evacuees earn a living,” he said.

After the coastal cleanup, Palacat said, the identified families will be tasked to plant trees or mangrove propagules in the mangroves of Talon-Talon, Mampang, Mariki and Arena Blanco, which used to be the hideouts of the MNLF fighters at the height of the siege.

“Then, we will move to cleanup of the riverbanks in the affected barangays,” the city agriculturist said.

According to Palacat, the “work for food” program started with a proposal of his cluster to come up with an income-generating project for the evacuees at the evacuation centers and those off-evacuation centers.

“However, we need funding for this. So we submitted our proposal to the UN and other funding agencies, while waiting for the necessary funding of our proposal we tapped the UN World Food Programme for the ‘work for food’ program, but limited only to agri-fisher families,” Palacat explained. — Vic Larato