ZABIDA Evaluates, Sharpens Its Programs

Zamboanga City – FR. ANGEL C. Calvo, president of the Spain-funded Zamboanga City-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), has rallied the coalition’s partner organizations to step up their intervention in communities they serve to realize a vision to ultimately end poverty, conflict and social degradation.

The call was made during the coalition’s three-day yearend and assessment planning last December 15, which was participated by the four partner organizations, namely, Katilingban Para sa Kalambuan, Inc. (KKI), Basilan-based Nagdilaab Foundation, Inc. (NF), Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), and Western Mindanao State University’ Center for Peace and Development (WMSU-CPD).

“The problem is big and I know we cannot all address that, but it is necessary for us to reassess and re-examine how the beneficiaries are being benefited by our intervention. Let’s live up to our objective to help our target beneficiaries to grow a dignified life. There is hope. We need to lead that hope,” Fr. Calvo stressed to the more than 60 staff and technical personnel of the coalition.

The multi-million peso ZABIDA program started in early 2007 and will run up to 2010, with the aim at fighting poverty and strengthening peace and security, said Carmen Valdez, country expatriate of the Manos Unidas, which together with the Agency for International Cooperation, the development assistance arm of the Spanish government, are funding the program.

The Spanish aid program was initially intended only for the Bicol region, which has been the battered by yearly storms that devastated the lives of the thousands residents.

The scope of the program, which is called Convenio (Spanish for convene), eventually included the city of Zamboanga and the entire island province of Basilan due to the continuing armed conflict and extreme poverty in these areas.

Its major thrusts are good governance, peace-building, social services, and environmental protection.

In its first year, the program has already touched hundreds of lives. These include livelihood programs for war victims, farmers, and marginalized sectors; provision of more access to basic services to the poor, and gradually increasing the capacities of local communities, civil society organizations and government sectors in peace-building and conflict transformation.

“This is a powerful group. It needs to know how to use the instrument for the realization of our vision. We need to tune up our focus, energy, resources, and time. We should re-evaluate our methodology, clarify our objectives, ways to implement and up to what steps we are effective,” Fr. Calvo said.

He said the bottom line is that partner organizations must have the “attitude not to submit themselves to the hopelessness and frustration (amid the difficulties)”.

Ricardo Limbaga, regional technical manager of the ZABIDA, also reminded the people behind the coalition to serve the beneficiaries “as a means of passion not just as a mere job.”

“We serve the people with the right attitude towards achieving our goal,” he said.

The yearend gathering also discussed ways to sustain and spread the program to more beneficiaries. These include strengthening the marketing strategies particularly for the livelihood and micro-finance projects.

The yearend assessment and planning was not just a time to seriously discuss the program but at the same create greater camaraderie among the coalition’s staff.

“Although we had been working in a collective manner, this is my first time to get the chance to socialize with all the guys, and it is nice to work in an environment of zealous people,” said a personnel of Nagdilaab Foundation.

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