Butotong with one of the trees she planted in the Liguasan Marsh
Copyright: WFP/Philipp Herzog
The Liguasan Marsh is a 288,000- hectare marshland which plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of the Central Mindanao region in the southern Philippines. The communities surrounding the marsh, together with their local government, has embarked on a reforestation project to protect and conserve the biodiversity of the marsh -- and WFP was there to support them.
Butotong Baklid is a loving mother of six children. She lives in the Liguasan Marsh, a 288,000- hectare marshland which plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of the Central Mindanao region in the southern Philippines.
The marsh is threatened by deforestation and other unsustainable practices which are resulting in the rapid decline of many species of fish, trees, flora and fauna.As a result, the community feels strongly regarding the need to protect and conserve the biodiversity of the marsh. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture initiated a reforestation project in the area that aimed to establish 138 household nurseries.
The World Food Programme (WFP) supported this local initiative by providing rice to the project’s participants, as they planted indigenous seedlings that will help rebuild the environment. Over 1,200 households took part in the effort, and Butotong herself received 5 sacks of rice as an incentive to participate in this community project. The rice helped support her family’s food needs.
The people in this area have also been seriously affected by decades of violent conflict between separatist rebels and government troops. Butotong’s own husband was killed in the crossfire in an upsurge in conflict in 2008, and for two months she and her children hid in the fields, living in a makeshift shelter and sleeping on the floor.
“My greatest dream now is for my kids to finish their education,” she says. Thanks to a school feeding programme being implemented by the Department of Education together with the WFP, Butotong’s children in elementary and pre-school are currently attending school every day where they receive a hot, nutritious meal.
It may sound simple, but for Butotong, as a widow with an unstable livelihood, this programme means fewer worries about where her children’s next meal will come from. And for her children, the daily school meals help them focus on their studies and less on their empty stomachs.
Butotong at her home in the Liguasan Marsh Copyright: WFP/Philipp Herzog