Heifer's Work in the Philippines
Philippines is the world’s second largest archipelagic nation. It comprises three major island groups – Luzon, the biggest island in the north, the Visayas group of islands in Central Philippines and Mindanao, the second largest island, in the south. Indigenous communities scattered across the archipelago and distinct cultural influences are perceptible not only among the cultural minorities but also among the majority. The language is predominantly Tagalog and English, with about 111 other major and minor dialects being spoken. About 80 percent of the population is Catholic, 15 percent is Muslim and the remaining 5 percent is shared by other religions.
More than half of the population lives in Luzon, while almost 23 percent is in Mindanao. High population densities and uncontrolled land-use conversion affect land availability, while the resulting encroachment into high biodiversity areas, such as critical forest and watershed areas, lead to alarming environmental and ecological concerns.
Poverty is also an issue in the country. Roughly 40 percent of families fall at or below the poverty threshold. Poverty is particularly prevalent among families in the agricultural sector. The average income of the poor in the agriculture sector is about 84.5 percent of the poverty line. To reduce the high poverty levels, the government will need to give priority to raising the incomes of those in the agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors.
In the Philippines, roughly 40 percent of families fall at or below the poverty threshold. Poverty is particularly prevalent among families in the agricultural sector.
Heifer International started working in the Philippines in 1954. Goats and cattle were shipped into the country and distributed to needy families through a program administered by a local committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association and later on through the Philippine Rural Life Center (PRLC). Heifer International implemented 400 animal dispersal projects until 1983, when the PRLC closed.
In 1986, the groundwork to establish a Philippine Country Program Office started with more focus on people’s development through animal agriculture reinforced by training, technical backstopping and other livestock support services. Heifer also formed linkages with organized groups across the country.
The Philippines Country Program Office formally opened in 1990 with Heifer broadening its focus to assist poor communities to become self-reliant. Heifer Philippines implemented projects that strengthen families, uphold human dignity, promote diversified and integrated farming systems and uphold the interests of indigenous groups.
In 2004, Heifer celebrated its 50th year of working in the Philippines and embarked on a “New Beginning” when organizational and programmatic innovations were put in place to emphasize impact, accountability and transparency. Today, Heifer Philippines works for the values-based holistic community development of poor families and communities across the Philippines. To date, the country program has assisted a total of 9,320 families across the Philippines.