Philippines

Philippines: DSWD, Petron extend P3m livelihood fund for victims of Guimas oil spill

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Nine months after the ill-fated Solar 1 oil spill incident in Guimaras, the victims are back on their feet again. This time, with renewed enthusiasm as they avail of the P3-million alternative livelihood program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Petron Foundation.

Twenty five members of Barangay Sebaste Seaweeds Growers SEA-K Association in the municipality of Sibunag can now start operating their seaweed growing project after gaining skills on seaweed production through a capability-building workshop conducted by the DSWD.

"The workshop is one of the trainings that the members need to undergo, before they will be provided with seed fund, to equip them with the knowledge and skills on entrepreneurship and basic management which are components of the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA -K) program," explained Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral.

SEA-K provides economic opportunities to poor Filipinos through capability-building program and provision of interest - free capital for micro-enterprise.

Secretary Cabral said that seaweed production is a thriving industry in Sibunag but the community does not have funds. to undertake it.

"When the alternative livelihood program was launched in Sibunag as part of the rehabilitation of the province, the people readily proposed for seaweed production given its potentials and wide market," Secretary Cabral added.

Sebaste is one of the SEA-K associations to be provided with seed capital in Sibunag. Five other SEA-K associations are also being organized in the municipality of Nueva Valencia where members will be trained on geotextile production. Geotextiles, the by - product of copra, are used as carpets to hold the soil together to prevent erosion.

Adelina Sobrevesana, Sebaste SEA-K Association president, shared that the program is a big help to the community as seaweed growers have organized themselves into a group.

"The 'kanya-kanya' mentality has been eliminated. The members now give complementary support to each other and have come to respect the ideas of other members," Sobrevesana said.

The alternative livelihood program for the oil spill victims is one of the rehabilitation efforts of the DSWD in partnership with Petron Foundation. The two agencies signed an agreement providing for livelihood assistance to the victims.