Sustaining livelihood in watershed communities

Smart Communications, Inc. in partnership with the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) recently organized a training program on Basic Traditional Bamboo Construction and Techniques for residents of Rizal Province to provide communities living within the Marikina Watershed an alternative means of livelihood.
Training participants are
taught how to properly clean off
the bamboo poles for storage.

 “The training is part of the Marikina Watershed Initiative that aims for the long-term rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed, including providing sustainable livelihood to families residing within the protected area,” said Darwin Flores, Smart senior manager for community partnerships.

“We recognize that sustaining efforts to rehabilitate and reforest the watershed goes beyond planting trees.  We also need to address the livelihood requirements of the communities living in the uplands.  Not addressing this reality would mean the trees we’re planting today will be charcoal tomorrow,” added Flores.

In training the participants on bamboo design, the organizers selected a plant that is endemic in the area as well as an excellent building material for housing provided that it is properly harvested and designed. Bamboo also grows fast and in five to six years, and can be harvested sustainably for construction needs.

Also, recent studies have shown that a hectare of planted bamboo can absorb 20 percent more carbon than a hectare of forest and therefore contributes to helping reduce carbon in the atmosphere.  

The telco has also organized trainings in organic farming and supplementary livelihoods like farm tools making to help sustain the Marikina Watershed Initiative.

The Marikina Watershed is a major catch basin for rainfall, streaming water to various water forms in surrounding areas. Its denuded state in 2009 hampered its capacity to absorb excessive water dumped by typhoon Ondoy, causing massive flash floods in nearby low-lying areas, including Metro Manila. 

That same year, PDRF, the government and corporate partners, including Smart, launched the Marikina Watershed Initiative to help protect, reforest and rehabilitate the watershed.

The Training of Marikina Watershed Artisans on Bamboo: Harvesting, Storage, Design and Construction is comprised of at least two modules.  Module 1 will focus on bamboo harvesting, treatment and storage, while the second module will focus on bamboo design and construction.

Smart has tapped Arch. Rosario “Ning” Encarnacion-Tan to conduct the training.  Tan is an internationally renowned Filipino architect and a pioneer in applying the principles of traditional Filipino architecture to contemporary design, mainly through the use of bamboo and other local material.

Participants from Sitio Sapinit of Barangay San Juan, Antipolo City; and barangays Pintong Bukawe and Casili of San Mateo signed up for the first module of the training held last December.

With the training, participants are seen understanding the concepts and skills related to bamboo as a construction material.  These include knowing the quality and age of bamboos that can be harvested in relation to a specific construction requirement, the skill with which to harvest the poles and techniques for storage.

The training for the second module is set on January 8 to 10, 2013.  Participants are expected to construct a guardhouse for their barangay made entirely of bamboo in May 2013.

The participants

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