CZECH Ambassador Jaroslav Olša Jr. recently visited Samar to evaluate its agriculture-supported projects in the province as it moves from humanitarian to developmental assistance.
The project is a follow-through to the aid provided by the Czech Republic to the province after the devastation it suffered from Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan).
Olša said that after more than 18 months, there is still so much to do in Samar with farmers’ livelihood still reliant on coconut, banana and rice.
“Yolanda forced locals to realize that this is not the way to sustain their income,” Olša noted.
The Czech Republic is doing the project along with the Italian and Romanian Caritas, with the Diocesan Social Action Center as its local partner.
Using the Caritas Czech Republic, it is continuing its work in the municipality of Basey by strengthening farmers’ knowledge in diversifying their income through various farming activities.
Among the projects being implemented is the “Diversified and Integrated Organic Farm,” where farmers learn how to diversify their livelihood by using resilient farming systems while also identifying seeds and crops that are most adaptable to their local areas. The farmers are also trained in the organic way of pest control and fertilizer development.
Moreover, the Basey field office of Caritas is also providing assistance in the formulation and implementation of disaster-risk reduction plans through village mapping and promotion of climate-resilient technologies.
Czech Caritas Country Representative Helena Kotková said that once farmers become more confident and production reaches appropriate volume and quality, they will move to cluster communities and assist them to access the markets.
“But it is still a long way to go. In 2013 Caritas Czech committed to help the communities. We cannot leave without unfinished complex package of activities,” Kotková said. Caritas Czech Republic (CCR) was one of the first international humanitarian organizations to assist Samar after the onslaught of Yolanda.
CCR, the biggest non-governmental provider of social and health services in the Czech Republic, has been increasing its foreign humanitarian aid and picks up threads of charitable activities of churches.
During the visit, Ambassador Olša received a plaque of appreciation from Basey for his contribution to the rehabilitation of the community. “With the majority of the local schools destroyed and after losing more than 230 of our community members in the aftermath of Yolanda, such swift response by Caritas was truly instrumental in the rebuilding of our community. For that, we are truly thankful,” Basey Mayor Igmedio Junjie Ponferrada said during a meeting with Olša.
The funding for the post-disaster rehabilitation programs came from the voluntary citizen contributions from the Czech Republic and Romania along with funding from the Czech Development Agency.