The 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. The country is composed of 15 administrative regions divided into 80 provinces. Indigenous communities are 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 according to regions. 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 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. 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. Further complicating matters, the country is the third-most disaster prone country in the world, subject to numerous severe weather events.
Heifer's Work in the Philippines
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 Philippines 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 program 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.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: Livestock care and management training, organic farming and composting
Post-harvest management and processing: Food grain storage and food waste management
Market development: Marketing and enterprise development training and Financial Management
Technology: Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) farming; swine feed formulation training and Techno-Demo farms to facilitate technology transfer, organic farming, vermi-composting, community managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR)
Nutrition: Promote food sovereignty; promote food security with kitchen garden
See where Heifer is working around the world to end hunger.
This episode was a life-changer. It totally shifted my paradigm to what Sharing and Caring is all about. Where before I lived without caring whether I made a difference in other people’s lives, that day I vowed with great resolve to share whatever I can with the needy. I will sincerely give, and more.
The rural poor suffer greatly from disasters of all kinds every year.
Social Justice is personified by a husband in the Philippines who, after attending trainings on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, values his wife’s work and begins helping provide for his family.