LGU reaps sustainability benefits amid quarantine, business closures
“There is abundance in our backyard.”
This is the message of Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado who currently pushes barangay officials to provide nutritious meals to their constituents in the ongoing enhanced community quarantine measures being implemented in the province of Lanao del Norte and the rest of the country.
This comes amid issues in local management of food distribution in different areas where local governments resort to food rationing in light of preventive measures in an attempt to stop local transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
As of 2 April 2020, 2,633 cases in the Philippines have been confirmed by the Department of Health (DOH). The death toll is at 107 including 17 physicians.
In Kauswagan, the municipal health office reported that they no longer have PUIs and PUMs, however, continuous monitoring is being done by the barangay emergency health response teams (BEHRTs).
With current issues caused by public transport suspension and closure of non-essential businesses, the local government is able to provide nutritious foods to families as a result of their food security measures.
”We have literally saved for rainy days. Families are able to consume their own produce and to augment further, communal gardens from our communities are now the source of nutritious food items during this crisis,” said Arnado.
A known model LGU in organic agriculture, Kauswagan has been promoting food production among families and communities through their decade-old food security and sustainability initiatives. These efforts proved to be effective in promoting citizen engagement in ensuring food security.
Arnado had earlier ordered schools, organizations and households to have their own communal or backyard vegetable gardens. A local ordinance requiring household gardens was passed.
The Arms to Farms Program of the municipality had significantly contributed to promoting peace building and poverty alleviation measures.
With improving performance on economic development including food production and stable income each year, the program managed to bring down poverty incidence to 9.1% in 2019 as compared to the 79% in 2000.
Kauswagan’s contribution to sustainability efforts were internationally recognized when the LGU and Arnado received the 2016 Peace Prize Award from the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in Bogota, Colombia.
Arnado is currently national president of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines (LOAMCP Philippines).