To augment family income, women sell fruits in Daet, capital town of Camarines Norte. Small and medium enterprises with the help of microlending institutions may explain why life is relatively easy in the least poor town in Bicol. – Photo by JONAS CABILES SOLTESA
By JONAS CABILES SOLTES
DAET: A grassroots-driven economy appears to be liberating Daet, capital town of CamNorte, from poverty.
Four of five families in Daet were living above the poverty threshold or on a daily income of more than P231, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), using 2009 data.
This was largely due to the municipal government’s microfinance program, Mayor Tito Sarion said.
The NSCB report, released in March, showed that Daet had a poverty incidence of 21 per cent, the lowest among towns and cities in Bicol.
“The microfinance program of the Daet Livelihood Development Center, side by side with the promotion of the One Town One Product program of the Department of Trade and Industry, directly addresses the socioeconomic needs of individuals and hence alleviates poverty in the municipality,” Sarion said.
Under the program of the municipal government, P5,000 to P25,000 in financing is provided to an indigent individual, payable in one year with two per cent monthly interest, and links borrowers to other financing institutions if they need bigger capitalization.
“We provide intensive training to ensure that the fund would grow and make the borrower really productive,” the mayor said.
One beneficiary is Ma Nenita Nidua, 56, who runs a sari-sari (retail) store at a resettlement area for the urban poor in Barangay Alawihao.
Three years ago, Nidua’s husband fell ill so the family’s resources went to defray expenses for his treatment. Nidua decided to sell her cell phone for P1,200 so she could start selling cooking oil, butter and flour.
After getting help from Daet’s microfinance program, the woman was able to grow her trade into a store. She started getting loans for P5,000, then increased the amount to P10,000 and P20,000.
“When you pay your dues on time, the amount that will be lent to you just goes higher,” she said.
In August, Romulo Virola, secretary general of the NSCB, recognized Daet as the least poor city or municipality in Bicol.
“A critical factor toward success of our poverty reduction program is the determination of local government executives to implement innovative ideas where traditional approaches have failed for many years already,” Virola said in a statement posted on the agency’s website.
The NCSB, however, noted that Bicol, along with the Cordillera Administrative Region, Eastern Visayas and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, remained one of the poorest regions in the country.
In Camarines Sur, the towns of Garchitorena, Siruma, Caramoan, Del Gallego, Tinambac and Balatan have poverty incidence rates of 50 per cent and above. Garchitorena topped the list of the poorest towns in the region with 59-per cent poverty incidence.
In Albay, the mining town of Rapu-Rapu had the highest poverty incidence rate of 58.6 per cent, followed by landlocked Jovellar at 52.7 per cent, and the seaport town of Pio Duran at 51.3 per cent.
Only one town in Masbate—San Pascual on Burias Island—had an over 50-percent poverty incidence. The towns of Claveria, Esperanza, Cawayan, Milagros, Palanas and Placer showed more than 40 per cent.
Masbate City has only 28.9, lower than that of Legazpi City which registered 30.7 percent.
According to Virola, Masbate City had the biggest poverty reduction in Bicol from 2003 to 2009. Last year, the southernmost city of Bicol had the fourth lowest rate in the region after Daet, Virac and Naga City.
Masbate Mayor Socrates Tuason said what the city government did was to fund agricultural programs and campaign hard against illegal fishing so that marginal fishers could earn more. Small and medium enterprises were also promoted.
The mining town of Aroroy, which sits on top of the largest gold deposits in the country, had a 45.5 per cent rate.
Sorsogon fared better. Sorsogon City had a poverty incidence rate of only 27.6 per cent. But the 47.3 per cent of Donsol town pulled down the province.
Virac, the capital town of Catanduanes, had the second lowest rate in the region at 22.7 per cent.
Naga, an independent component city of Camarines Sur, had 24.4 pe rcent.
Another antipoverty project in Daet is the “Magtanim Upang Wag Magutom,” which encourages residents to raise crops.
Public-private partnership was also working well for the capital town.
“The municipal government tapped business sectors and other government agencies for help,” Sarion said. – Inquirer