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Fisheries project in the Philippines: Food security and sustainable management of fishing zones

Simon Stückelberger, Marion Künzler



Climate change and disasters threaten the livelihood of poor people in particular. Often, the population in developing countries does not have the means to protect itself against the increasing climate and disaster risks. This also puts the outcome of the long-standing development cooperation at risk. On the other hand, the project work strengthens the adaptability to climate and disaster risks. Hence, Bread for All and Fastenopfer integrate both topics using the specifically developed Climate Proofing Tool in their development work. The attained findings serve as a basis for appropriate project adaptations. The data for the analysis is compiled in workshops with the project beneficiaries, while projects are adequately adjusted. The southern partner’s project staff is trained in the knowledge base as well as the application of the instrument.

Philippines – The Water Level Rises

The Philippines comprise 7100 islands and a coastline of 18400 kilometers. Approximately 45 percent of the 88 million inhabitants live on less than 2 US dollars a day. The majority of the population lives off farming and fishing. Accordingly, climate changes affect the poor, rural population severely. “Spring tides are gaining in height and consequently our island is flooded on a regular basis, land is washed away and the soil over-salted,” complains Jose Novallo, a fisher and resident of Mahaba Island.

Fisheries Project on Mindanao Island

The Fastenopfer project, which was reviewed using the Climate Proofing Tool, is located in the northeast of Mindanao Island at Hinatuan Bay. The project fosters the sustainable utilization of fishing grounds as well as the safeguarding of the local population’s livelihood. Local families live mainly off of fishing and small vegetable gardens. Project activities include:

  • Advance the skills of local organizations in the area of organizational and resource management.

  • Advance sustainable fisheries by establishing fisheries conservation zones as well as record and monitor coastal and maritime resources.

  • Socioeconomic activities for self-help: Support credit, savings, and business development programs, e.g. offer start-up aid for seaweed and shrimp farms.

  • Sensitization and mobilization of interest groups, local administration and police officials, as well as churches and schools with regards to the sustainable conservation of coastal resources.

  • Advance gender equality within the scope of the various projects and through education on violence against women and children.

Wives of fishermen draw a climate hazard map of Hinatuan Bay

Climate and Disaster Risk Analysis of the Project

Families of fishermen and local project staff discussed, in various workshops, climate change, its impacts as well as possible coping strategies, and pursued solutions. The workshops were held in gender divided groups to account for the distinct routines and problems of men and women and in order to guarantee balanced participation. The fishermen families at Hinatuan Bay are confronted with climate change on a daily basis. Besides a rise in sea level, they increasingly struggle with the indirect consequences of typhoons. For instance, strong rainfalls associated with typhoons cause ocean salt levels to fluctuate and hence impact fisheries or seaweed farm outputs. Future climate warming will increase such and similar risks, e.g. spread dengue fever, which has thus far played a minor roll.

The local population has already developed strategies to cope with climate change. One example is crop cultivation or relocating seaweed farms to areas with constant salt levels, which has reduced their dependence on fishery. However, these strategies reduce the local population’s vulnerability to climate risks insufficiently, which holds true especially when considering the impending climate changes. Previous project activities have strengthened the abilities of fishermen families to cope with climate and disaster risks: Ocean conservation areas have led to a fish population surge and the growth of mangrove forests protects against high waves. Similarly, the project contributes to climate protection: Although electricity and automotive usage produce emissions, the afforested mangroves and ocean conservation areas bind large amounts of carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, the adaptability of the population should be further strengthened: Additional income diversification in the agricultural sector as well as research into salt and drought tolerant crops or fish species is essential. Increasingly, training sessions, which enable the local population to recognize early warning signs of typhoons or other natural phenomena, will be necessary.

Training in Davao

The training, which Bread for All and Fastenopfer financed and organized, took place in Davao in July 2010. Participants included Philippine partner organizations of Fastenopfer and Heks. International and local experts conveyed basic knowledge on climate change, its effects and how to cope with the change. Participants learned the practical application of the Climate Proofing Tool in several group exercises. A one-day field trip to an innovative rice farmer in the southwest of Mindanao concluded the training. The farmer described to participants his way of coping with climate change: With a seed bank of over 170 rice cultivars, selective management of crop growing times and water usage as well as organic agriculture, he harvests enough rice to feed his family and sell the leftovers.

Participants’ feedback leaves the future project development with a hopeful outlook. The mood shifted markedly during the training – while sadness and hopelessness dominated the beginning, hope and a willingness to combat climate change collectively developed later. Participants returned to work with new ideas and were able to integrate the newly acquired knowledge into their projects.

Visit of a development project for the advancement of biodiversity during a climate training in Davao


segurança alimentar, pesca, desenvolvimento econômico, diversificação dos recursos, autonomia

, Filipinas


Tackling Climate and Disaster Risks in Development Cooperation


This article is available in french Projet piscicole aux Philippines : Sécurité alimentaire et gestion durable des zones de pêche

“The waves that entered my house last spring were so tall that my children were able to learn how to swim in our living room instead of the ocean.” Mother living on the island at Hinatuan Bay with her four children


For further information: Marion Künzler / Bread for all, In charge of the « Climate » workshops:

Pain pour le prochain (PPP) - Service des Eglises protestantes de Suisse pour le développement, Av. du Grammont 9, CH-1007 Lausanne, SUISSE - Tél. : 021 614 77 17 - Fax : 021 617 51 75 - Suíça - - ppp (@)

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