A communal garden project is helping returnee families rebuild their homes and re-establish their livelihoods. WFP Philippines assisted the families by providing them with food as incentive for attending the project's training sessions.
This smile was not always that big:
Linda Bato, a 40 year old mother of two, had to flee her village together with her family in 2008 due to an upsurge of violence in Maguindanao, a province in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
“I was so scared. I heard shots at night and later, at one o’clock in the morning, mortars started firing,” she recalls. They eventually took refuge in an evacuation center, not knowing this would be their home for the next year.
Upon returning to their village, they had to “start from scratch,” rebuilding their homes and re-establishing their livelihood. At the beginning, income and access to food improved very slowly, but Linda and another 2,500 families eventually found support through a communal gardening project.
The project is implemented by a local organization called Magungaya Mindanao, Incorporated, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, NGO Community and Family Services International and the local government. The World Food Programme also contributed to these communities through its Food-for-Training programme, which provided participants with rice as an incentive for attending training sessions that focused on practical and innovative gardening techniques. Within a three month period, the project became entirely self sustaining.
The garden now provides the families with food for their own consumption, and now they also supply their vegetables to market vendors. The skills they developed on community gardening will surely guarantee future income – and smiles as big as Linda’s.
Previously the Carlo Schmid Fellow in the Communications and Partnerships Unit for WFP in the Philippines. Philipp also briefly served as Reports Officer for WFP in South Sudan, before rejoining WFP Philippines as Communcations Officer.