Taking radical steps toward achieving its goal of community empowerment, CERNET started engaging in strategic partnership with people’s organizations in the Visayas by mid- 2011 when it embarked on the implementation of the fourth phase of its community empowerment resource project (CERP 4) funded by EED. The CERNET- PO strategic partnership aims to develop people’s organizations that are capable of implementing and sustaining development projects that will improve the economic, political and cultural conditions in their communities. This involves supporting PO partners’ socio-economic and organizational endeavors on a long- term basis compared to the previous strategy of providing fund support for a maximum of one- year per PO partner. For the three-year program of CERP 4, CERNET employed the strategic partnership approach with one urban poor PO in Cebu, and two peasant POs in Bohol, and in Negros Oriental.
Midway into the three-year project, the three strategic PO partners namely Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Planas (KASAMAPA), Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa San Jose (NAMASAJO), and Nagkahiusang Kabus sa Lapu-Lapu (NAKALAP) are effectively and efficiently managing their projects. Staff monitoring results indicates that KASAMAPA and NAMASAJO have the capacity to sustain their development projects. Aside from their management capabilities, which were enhanced through trainings and seminars by CERNET’s PO- Capacity Building Program, PO officers have developed their skills in networking and resource generation.
A successful case story is that of KASAMAPA in Barangay Planas, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental. Majority of its members and their families were gravely affected by the earthquake which hit and destroyed their homes and livelihood in February 2012. However, through collective efforts of the PO and the community, they were able to rise from the pits of devastation and showed community leadership. Despite some understandable delay, the PO was able to continue the implementation of their income- generating projects. They were also able to generate resources from the local government units in the municipality in support of its CERNET- funded project; the PO was also able to raise funds for livelihood projects from other funding agencies specifically the corn mill which they are managing out of the funds from the International Committee on Red Cross (ICRC); and they facilitated the medical and relief missions for its members and the community by tapping support from other civil society groups.
With these positive impacts and developments in one of our strategic PO partners, CERNET is assured that it will be able to achieve its three- year objective of empowering at least two out of three strategic PO partners. Working in solidarity with our development partners, CERNET is definitely on the right track towards the realization of its vision of community empowerment.