SDRC Marks 29th Year with Forum on Projects in Progress


sdrcA dissemination forum entitled "Projects in Progress" was sponsored by the Social Development Research Center on March 5, 2008 at the Ariston Estrada Seminar Room. Marking its twenty-ninth year since its establishment at the University, the Center presented three projects involving four areas of interest in its research agenda, namely upland development and management, displaced populations, and urban health. The presentations made during the forum were by Dr. Ma. Elena Chiong-Javier on "Agroforestry and Sustainable Vegetable Production in Southeast Asian Watersheds: Market and Gender Components of TMPEGS Philippines"; Ms. Alicia B. Manlagnit on "Forced to Flee by Nature: Perceptions and Experiences of Displaced People in a Rural Philippine Municipality"; and Ms. Ysadora F. Mendoza on "Eco-bio-social Factors of Vector Density: Developing an Integrated and Collaborative Approach to Dengue Control in the Philippines."

Dr. Javier explained during the forum that "Agroforestry and Sustainable Vegetable Production in Southeast Asian Watersheds: Market and Gender Components of TMPEGS Philippines" is a four-year project was launched in 2006 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It will be undertaken until 2010 by a collaborative partnership between the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (lead institution) and multiple institutions particularly from the countries of Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. The project belongs to an umbrella program called Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management-Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM-CRSP) managed by Virginia Tech.

sdrcIn general, the project seeks to reduce poverty, food scarcity, and environmental degradation in the region by combining economically-viable and resource-conserving technologies and gender friendly socio-economic policies that will benefit and reward stakeholders in a watershed, especially small scale women and men farmers. It is hypothesized that "integrating vegetable production in the agroforestry system on small farms will help to alleviate poverty and enhance environmental protection, sustainability, and ecosystem biodiversity in SEA watersheds and vice versa." The project has specific objectives on SANREM technology, marketing, policy, environmental and socioeconomic impacts, gender, and scaling-up (TMPEGS). Different studies to realize each of these objectives are simultaneously and sequentially being conducted primarily by collaborating institutions in the three countries w ith inputs from technical experts from western academic institutions and international research centers. In the Philippine case, the market and gender studies were assigned to SDRC.

The market study aims to conduct market value chain research at the local, regional, and national levels that builds upon existing market strategies and develop interventions to overcome constraints and take advantage of opportunities. On the other hand, the gender component aims to provide mechanisms to improve the socio-economic well-being of women engaged in vegetable production and agroforestry enterprises, especially in terms of income and labor share, and to involve women in decisions that concern their welfare.

Among the insights presented by Dr. Javier for the study were:

  • Marketing is an individual rather than a collective enterprise; the marketer thrives through ingenious ways of tying farmer and his supplies to marketer.
  • The supply chains are not demand-driven but dominated and driven by middlemen-buyers; farmers at the upstream are neither market-savvy nor oriented to downstream/consumer preferences.
  • Any assistance to increase farm productivity, whether for vegetables or tree crops, will continue to be cornered by men.
  • Development of tree-based market enterprises cannot but also be male-directed and -oriented.
  • However, vegetable-related market enterprises shall most likely impact directly and positively on women's welfare.

nature"Forced to Flee by Nature: Perceptions and Experiences of Displaced People in a Rural Philippine Municipality", meanwhile, is part of a multi-country research entitled "Insights into the Displaced Populations." According to Ms. Manlagnit, the study aims to explore the realities about internal population displacement caused by different factors. The study involves five research institutions in four countries: the De La Salle University in Manila; Assumption University in Thailand; University of St. Joseph in Beirut; Shelter Don Bosco in Mumbai, India; and Stella Maris College in Chennai, also in India.

sdrcThe Philippine component, being undertaken by SDRC, seeks to describe people's perceptions about and experiences during displacement caused by natural disasters, particularly flashfloods and mudslides in a rural municipality in Southern Philippines. More specifically, it aims to

1) obtain relevant information about displaced people's perceptions on natural disaster and displacement phenomena, and describe how these perceptions shape their experiences during displacement;

2) determine the pattern of displacement and describe its consequences, with a particular focus on the problems people experience during displacement;

3) look into the different self-help strategies displaced people use to cope with the problems they encounter;

4) identify structures that assist displaced people and describe the nature and process of assistance; and

5) identify key issues and relevant concerns on the return process.

mendozaThe research is being conducted in the municipality of St. Bernard in Southern Leyte where major flashfloods occurred in February 2006. During that disaster, a massive mudslide covered one of St. Bernard's barangays. Survivors from that barangay are now in a resettlement village found in Barangay Magbagakay in this town. This new village is considered a permanent resettlement area and has been chosen as the major site for the research study. However, in order to have insights about people who are still in a more temporary resettlement situation, people staying in the two major evacuation centers in the municipality who have come from nearby barangays are also being included in the study.

Ms. Manlagnit revealed that the general perceptions regarding natural calamities and the displacement phenomenon were that the flash floods were God's punishment; God's reminder/a wake up call; God's will; destiny; a test of man's faith and trust in God; the consequence of man's destructive actions; the inevitable effects o heavy rainfall; and for some, it was believed that a bomb was made to explode in the mountains. With regard to the displacement phenomenon, a common view was that it was the government that forced residents to leave their homes.

Among the perceived needs elicited from the respondents as a result of the calamity were the basics-food, shelter, clothing; more regular sources of income; proof/certification of ownership of the housing units given to them; and financial support for the education of family members.

Lastly, during Ms. Mendoza's presentation was on the project "Eco-bio-social Factors of Vector Density: Developing an Integrated and Collaborative Approach to Dengue Control in the Philippines," funded by the World Health Organization/TDR. This study uses a selective, inter-sectoral approach to dengue vector control aimed at epidemiologically important key containers identified by pupa surveys and applied during critical periods of dengue transmission shall result in long-term source reduction and effective dengue control in the Philippines. The questions it seeks responses to are: What, and how much do eco-biological and social factors affect dengue vector density in overcrowded, dense areas with unplanned urbanization and rapid population growth? How do these factors contribute to the cyclical increase in dengue cases? How can this information be formulated into a rational strategy for dengue control? Under a devoted system of health services and limited resources , who are the stakeholders for this strategy? What collaboration and linkages must be developed among them? Finally, what are the recommendations for more effective dengue control?

The findings reported by Ms. Mendoza were composed of ecological and biological factors, and social factors. The ecological and biological factors, taken from the study's Entomological and Pupal Survey, were:

sdrcRegarding Water Supply. In the high density clusters, water supply is not adequate. Very few homes in 2 clusters and none in 2 others have piped water supply. HHs purchase water from a distributor (water truck) supplied either privately or by the city government. A public faucet is available in one cluster.

Although most of the homes in the low density cluster had piped water supply, the supply was not adequate; most homes had deep wells that supplied water through a motorized pump.

Regarding Pupal/Larval Productivity. It was found that 239 (or 7%) of the more than 2,000 containers in the households were found to have pupa. Aedes aegypti was the dominant vector for all clusters with mean pupae/positive container of 11.1. Aedes albopictus was observed from pupa reared from clusters identified to have low reported dengue incidence and low density cluster

Regarding Key Containers. The key containers for the private spaces were drums (61.7%), those falling under "others" category (14%), and tires (7%). Containers falling under the "others" category are varied: discarded items (jar, pot, pot cover, plastic plates, plate trays, drum cover, dipper, flower pot, Styrofoam ice box); trash (plastic mineral water containers, basketball ring stand, rolled canvass); dish racks found in kitchens; and a fountain in a garden.

When examined by population density and reported dengue case incidence, drums were still the key containers. Seventy-three (73) drums were observed to contain pupa; 92% (or 67) of the drums were used for household purposes.

The key containers from public spaces include tires (41%) as the overall key container; the "others" category (15%) (consisting of old cup and discarded toilet, water tank top cover); and coconut shells (12%).

Meanwhile, the social factors, derived from the KAP Survey, FGDs and HH Observations, were:

Regarding Knowledge. Many of those in the sample were knowledgeable in terms of the vector and the disease itself: 59% are from high dengue incidence barangays, and 72% are from low dengue incidence barangays. A few had some misconceptions as to the vector which carries the virus and in terms of the possible breeding sites of the mosquito.

Regarding Attitudes. The respondents perceive the prevention and solution of dengue as the government's responsibility.

Commonly Suggested Interventions were fogging, health education, and checking of water containers. Among those who learned/participated in training for dengue control, 37% are from high dengue incidence barangays, and 31% are from low dengue incidence barangays.

Community participation in health-related activities is very minimal. The importance of the barangay health workers' role in the community has been downplayed.

Regarding Practices, those related to cleanliness are still not a priority in the barangays. Of community programs to clean the environment, 54% are from the high dengue incidence barangays, and 63% are from the low dengue incidence barangays. Some areas in Muntinlupa, particularly near the high density clusters still remain to have unfavorable environmental conditions. Water supply is a problem and the practice of storing water is common.

Among the sampled residents who store water, 78% are residents from the high dengue incidence barangays and 55% are from the low dengue incidence clusters. Women (specifically mothers) are usually in charge of storing water and cleaning water storage containers. Water supply is a problem and the practice of storing water is common.

The presentations were followed by an open forum that was participated in by research fellows, students of the Master in Health Social Science program, and guests from other institutions.