VSO Bahaginan bares three-year plan
Premier development organization VSO Bahaginan is strengthening its commitment to poor and marginalized Filipino communities as it bares a comprehensive three-year strategy for fighting poverty in priority areas across the Philippines.
The strategy — laid out today in a media event hosted by VSO Bahaginan Chairman Vitaliano N. Nañagas and Executive Director Marilou Pantua-Juanito — is founded on partnerships with government, corporate, and civil society organizations, as well as on engagement with community-based national and international volunteers.
"In the last ten years, VSO Bahaginan has sent a total of 605 volunteers to support partner organizations in more than 44 countries," said Pantua-Juanito. "Over the next three years, we aim to make a significant, enduring impact on the lives of marginalized and poor Filipino communities, with capacity-building and climate-resilient projects anchored on active citizenship and asset reform."
The three-year plan builds on the success of a number of VSO Bahaginan's ongoing local programs. The first of these is the organization's multi-pronged peace-building efforts in the poorest, most conflict-marred areas in Mindanao—specifically, the Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces. VSO Bahaginan's national volunteers work with grassroots organizations in promoting community-enabling actions, helping local people recover from emotional trauma, generate income to support their children's education, and create sustainable livelihoods through locally grown produce.
VSO Bahaginan's Model Forest program in Samar and Bohol, meanwhile, is driven by the organization's partnerships with local watershed councils and government agencies. The program, which uses the "ridge to reef" approach, aims to improve the quality of life of local people by building climate change resiliency in forest and coastal communities. It has also led to the establishment of the Carood and Ulot Watershed Model Forests, both of which have been granted full membership status by the International Model Forest Network.
Another program is the deployment of VSO Bahaginan's international youth volunteers for participation in the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) system instituted by the Municipality of Hagonoy in Bulacan. The system aims to promote more effective response to multiple threats and vulnerabilities brought about by chronic flooding, environmental degradation, and sea level rise. A capacity-building initiative supported by the private sector, DRRM also serves as a platform for VSO Bahaginan's volunteers to contribute to efforts in natural resource management, solid waste management, health education, good governance, and inclusion.
The organization is also implementing "Increasing Participation of PWD (People With Disabilities) in 2013 Elections," an inclusion project in Cebu that falls under the umbrella of the "Fully-Abled Nation" program funded by AusAID (Australian Agency for International Development) and the Asia Foundation. Another inclusion project—"Enhancing skills, access to Filipino sign language in TV news broadcasts in four key cities of the Philippines"—pushes the deaf human rights advocacy, and features VSO Bahaginan's partnership with the Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, Inc. (GVSP).
"Since pioneering a National Volunteering program in 2003, VSO Bahaginan has maximized the potential of volunteering to help citizens drive development forward," added Pantua-Juanito. "As we execute our new three-year strategy and launch a wide range of volunteer programs and initiatives, we hope that more civil society organizations, government agencies, private sector groups, volunteers, and supporting communities join us in empowering the poor and marginalized people in the Philippines."