Identified Solution with Upscaling Potential
Solution: Watch Tower and Comprehensive Land Use Plan towards Increased Adaptive Capacities
of Vulnerable Communities in Silago, Southern Leyte
Storyline/Narrative: The municipality of Silago, Southern Leyte was established in June 1950 with 15 barangays composing it by virtue of an executive order and chartered through Republic Act No. 5962 in June 1969. The rich biodiversity of this town is implied even in the legend of its name said to have been called originally as Murcielago, Spanish term for bat which has dominance in the locality as it has its giant bat sanctuary in Barangay Catmon. It has the biggest forest land area in the province and recently, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan(legislative council) of Southern Leyte declared its Mount Nacolod as strict protection mountain, it being home to wild pigs and other biodiversity. Citing of the rare and endangered Philippine Eagle has been reported in Mount Nacolod. The security implications of its coastal and marine was highlighted when Silago was chosen as the site of the submarine landing of the American military arms and equipment during the second war. Silago’s beaches are ideal for surfing.The Silago coastal villages such as Barangays Lagoma and Salvacion have clean beaches, features the Pelada Rock which was occupied and utilized as a camp by the Japanese Imperial Army during the second world war. The Pelada Rock nowadays is sanctuary to birds building their nests, sea snakes and the rich fish and marine resources. Over 66 years, the Municipality of Silago has maintained its Municipal Tree Park on which are found in it northern part the clean and clear river system. In its upper portion are the different waterfalls which connect to the Lanang and Maag Rivers that reach the poblacion, forming into a lake. Nowadays, these waterfalls and rivers are sources of irrigation and potable water and have become popular to local tourists. In the GIZ-Southern Leyte Province partnership that goes back in 2003, the municipality of Silago was the first pilot site to demonstrate the German government support to local initiatives. Being a relatively “new” town, Silago did not have clear barangay boundaries which was crucial to rationalize budget allocations
from the point of view of local governance. Thus, the municipal government decided that their first municipal manpower capability building would be focused on skills acquisition among its staff on participatory, conflict-sensitive planning wherein the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptations would be a serious component. This capacity building set of activities has enabled the municipal technical staff to become effective facilitators of settling barangay boundary conflicts while they motivated the communities to articulate their development aspirations. The capacitated municipal technical team dared to try out facilitating their forest land use planning, agricultural zone landscape planning, their coastal and marine assessments that were used as basis for their integrated coastal plans. Each barangay, after the conflict-sensitive and participatory planning processes had well-documented Barangay Development Plans with proposed land and water use maps for considerations by the municipal planning team in crafting the Municipal Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance. With all 15 barangay land use and development planning done, the Municipal Planning Team consolidated the results, integrated the forest, agriculture, coastal and marine data into their baseline for the formulation of the Municipal Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Silago can now claim that their was the first ridge-to-reef CLUP draft that served as experience-based inputs to the updating of the land use planning guidelines of the country’s Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. The Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Legislative Body) had also their share of capability building thru a series of zoning ordinance writeshops. Technical inputs, law review sessions to craft the first-ever ridge-to-reef zoning ordinance was their major output. The Silago Municipal Government invested more in their actual
plan implementations. Action did not wait for their CLUP approval at the local level. With committed barangay councils and communities already climate change-sensitive, adaptation actions right away started. The technical and financial aspects were complemented by the provincial government and thru their partnership with the GIZ. The creation of the Office of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources was deemed necessary. Despite the limitations set by the Local Government Code, the municipality designated a Team to manage the environmental projects as well as augmentation of the coastal and marine budget was done by the municipal government. This was important to ensure the local counterparts in the various actions related to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The municipal planning and implementing team assumed additional roles: from facilitators they became technical input providers, monitors and more importantly community organizers to strengthen the various sectoral groups and form them into farmers associations, fisherfolks Bantay-Dagat associations, and the upland dwellers into Bantay-Kalikasan people’s organizations. Quarterly municipal consulations and dialogues, actual agro-forestry actions, agri-fairs, indigenous trees planting, fuel wood establishments, coastal clean-ups,actual mangrove planting and replanting right after the strong typhoons,to these days have become regular municipal government- budgeted activities.
In 2003, the coastal barangays were supported by the BMU ACCBio Project with the complete package of a watch tower, radio and communications set to inspire them all the more with their coastal and marine protected area activities. The watch tower serves as the fisher folks’ light house specially on bad weather evenings and they are still out in the seas to do their living. The watch tower has become symbolic of the coastal communities’ aspirations for safety and abundance of the coastal and marine resources they are managing.
Increased fish catch has been realized which assures the coastal communities of incomes and food security;
Safety of the fisher folks when they do coastal patrol and in their fishing activities in farther parts of the municipal waters;
Increased incomes of farmers who have engaged in diversified farming practices stemming from their realization that their ricelands would someday be affected by sea level rise;
Land use rights among upland dwellers who now are able to cut their planted trees based on strong monitoring done by the Office of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources ably supported by the provincial team;
Additional incomes to upland dwellers from getting engaged by government and under the Provincial Government-GIZ partnership in nursery establishments, reforestations and indigenous tree species reforestation activities;
Barangay and municipal incomes from tourism now starting to be realized
Maintained pristine environment as Mount Nacolod has been declared locally as a strict protection forest zone;
Process of land use rights is paving the way for tenure security in the uplands of the municipality
A relocation site for the poblacion is being developed to ensure that in the coming years, in preparation for the sea level rise, the municipality has a seat of governance and the vulnerable coastal communities have relocation sites based on the agreed land use and zoning map
Strong citizenry participation in disaster risk reduction measures stemming from strengthened peoples organizations who work closely with the municipal government
Identified issues and concerns: Tenure issues for the upland dwellers
Suggested way forward: Incentivizing mechanisms for the peoples organizations serving as environmental monitors.