February 15, 2011

Community Rallies to Fight Hunger, Malnutrition as Displaced Filipinos Return Home

Organic Community Farms Increase Nutrition, Food Security for IDPs in the Philippines

People displaced by the armed conflict in the Philippines's Mindanao region face the twin challenges of hunger and malnutrition when they return home to uncultivated and abandoned farmlands.

Over 60,000 people remain displaced, and the situation is still tenuous as the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiate a resolution. Flare ups continue to affect some populations, but growing numbers are expected to return within the year if talks are successful (IRIN).

To help IDPs as they reclaim their farms, community leaders recently led 180 former IDPs to collectively cultivate and maintain a total of 3,000 square meters with organic vegetables to meet villagers' food and nutritional needs.

This training program was part of ACDI/VOCA’s broader efforts to work with 30 community health action team (CHAT) leaders to improve the food security of returning IDPs in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, under the USAID-funded Sustainable Health Improvements through Empowerment and Local Development program (SHIELD).

Participants Practice Organic Growing Techniques

The CHATs trained the community members in safe and chemical-free agricultural techniques, planting 2,000 seedlings of 6 vegetable species for distribution to the participants' households from the communal nursery.

In the training, the participants also learned to produce organic pesticides and fertilizers for the farms by composting biodegradable household and agricultural wastes. This technology had the added benefit of helping to eliminate the village's growing garbage problem.

Community Works to Continue Access to Healthy Food

The plots of land, located in Tamar village, Tambunan Uno village and near the regional rural health unit, were lent to the CHATs through partnerships with local government officials.

Following the CHATs’ lead, many returned IDPs have committed to cultivating sustainable farms.

SHIELD is funded by USAID and led by Helen Keller International. The project partnered with the Philippines's Department of Agriculture in Mindanao to train the CHAT leaders in sustainable agriculture.

Learn more about SHIELD's work in promoting nutrition and strengthening access to health services.

Learn more about our health-related work.

Pictured at top left: Displaced Filipinos tend to organic community gardens to meet food and nutritional needs.