Stories of building back better after Yolanda, told by ADB Consultants & Partners

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Attention Humanitarian Agencies: There's Already An Oversupply Of Boats!

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At least in Eastern Samar, and at least as of now, that is!

No statistics shown, but that is according to the people themselves - yep, the victims of Yolanda (fishrfolks or not), the people we are supposedly trying to help recover from the ravages of the typhoon, and at the same time, the very same people who help us (the humanitarian community) get our help across to them! Maybe its high time we all listen!

This afternoon was probably the 3rd time I heard this concern raised by locals and/or officials from the "Yolanda Corridor". But I am happy to note that this time, the 'request' was mentioned at an action planning workshop being conducted by Plan International prior to the execution of the rest of their deliverables under the JFPR Sub-component A.2! Wow, really!

It was a unanimous (if not vehement) request! Thus, when I found a chance at breaktime, I asked some of them who readily voiced-out that predicament for me to learn more details. A very valid concern, I must say.

They intimated that:
- Some donors do not properly seek information before bringing boats in.
- Some rely on old information, but others have already donated ahead of them.
- Some non-fishermen accept the boats, but they do not know how to use them.
   And they just leave these boats lying around their backyards, useless.
- Some non-fishermen accept the boats, then sell them to have gambling money.

The predicaments even got into more profound points-of-view, such as:
- "There are now too many 'fishermen' here, we may cause overfishing".
They claim that these donated boats are usually too small, therefore can only be used by them near the shorelines, that results into so many legitimate fishermen and trying-to-be fishermen all too crowded in the area, thus, resulting in almost everyone going home without enough catch even for a meal!

One of them loudly reflected about "why not these INGOs try to count and ask us first before giving out anymore boats"? Another one shared "maybe they should also limit the number of small boats, and give a few bigger ones that have engines, so that those who get the bigger boats can go fish far in the open sea". Yet another participant said "can we just go back to pechay? see we just did our computations in the workshop, its plausible"! Now that last comment gave us all a laugh. But, I think we all realized, we were on the same boat saying... enough of the boats please?!

Happily noted that Dr. Edwin, the livelihood expert of Plan International took note of all of these. Hmm, I'm almost sure, Plan International (at least under our Sub-component A.2), won't be giving anymore boats, at least in Eastern Samar. And certainly, come Monday am going to tell all of my fellow consultants at GMU about this legitimate concern from the communities. Lessons Learned!

Wasn't I glad I engaged these folks in talk-and-banter? You bet!

I love my job!

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