Empowering Local Communities to Combat Malnutrition
In a groundbreaking move to tackle the pressing issue of malnutrition, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), the social arm of Shell companies in the Philippines, celebrated the successful culmination of its transformative Roots to Shoots (RTS) Program. The program’s primary aim was to promote better nutrition and well-being in communities, and now it has reached a pivotal moment, as PSFI hands over the reins to the local government units (LGUs) of Bombon and Pasacao in Camarines Sur, ensuring its long-term sustainability.
A Ceremony of Collective Commitment
The air was filled with excitement and hope as representatives from PSFI, program partners Manila Water Foundation (MWF), World Vision Development Foundation (WVDF), LGUs, and community members gathered for a momentous handover ceremony. This event not only marked the successful completion of the program’s implementation phase but also symbolized a transition into a new phase of sustainability. It was a powerful testament to the combined efforts and dedication of all stakeholders involved.
Chairman Cesar A. Buenaventura’s Reflections
Chairman Cesar A. Buenaventura expressed pride in the impact of the program on agriculture and food security in Shell Philippines. “Our training farm has benefitted many farmers. Together, we have successfully reduced malnutrition and improved sanitation and health, with very tangible results,” he stated. As the program takes a significant step towards community ownership, Buenaventura extended heartfelt wishes to the local stakeholders, encouraging them to build upon the foundation they had collectively laid.
Empowering Local Communities
The handover ceremony served as an opportunity to honor the invaluable contributions of the LGUs and Barangay Local Government Units (BLGUs), who played an instrumental role in the success of the RTS program. These local stakeholders were presented with plaques of appreciation for their unwavering support.
Following the recognition, a momentous signing took place, as the RTS program implementers and the LGUs formalized their commitment through a deed of donation. This symbolic act solidified their dedication to the program’s continuity and sustainability. In a true spirit of collaboration, PSFI and its partners also expressed their commitment to expanding the program to more provinces in need of nutritional support and introducing additional partners to bolster its impact.
A Holistic Approach to Nutrition and Well-being
Maria Pamela S. Castro, Senior Program Manager for Nutrition and Food Security at PSFI, emphasized the comprehensive approach taken by the RTS program. She highlighted its recognition of the multifaceted nature of the challenges and the implementation of integrated solutions to address them effectively.
Raiza V. Cusi, Senior Technical Program Manager at PSFI, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the critical role of collective action and shared responsibility for sustainable development. The program’s success is a result of fruitful collaborations with government bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and local communities, harnessing diverse expertise and resources for a comprehensive and impactful solution.
Rommel V. Fuerte, National Director of the World Vision Development Foundation, commended the program’s holistic approach, particularly in addressing mother-child issues, food security, water access, and sanitation. He praised the model as one that can be replicated in other areas, describing it as a powerhouse of positive change.
Reginald M. Andal, Executive Director of the Manila Water Foundation, emphasized the crucial role of water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in combating malnutrition. He stressed that WASH facilities play a critical role in driving desired behaviors, further strengthening the program’s impact.
Achieving Success for Communities
Over the course of three years, the RTS program’s Mother and Child Care Component achieved remarkable success, reducing stunting rates in children in Bombon and Pasacao in Camarines Sur from 32.90% to 25.45% and 31.90% to 21.33%, respectively. These municipalities had previously faced high rates of stunting in the Bicol region, with 20% of children under 5 years old affected.
Additionally, the program’s Food Security and Livelihood Component yielded significant achievements, promoting increased food availability and economic access for mothers, caregivers, and farmers. Local barangays witnessed enhanced food production, while farmer organizations created employment opportunities in both in-farm and off-farm enterprises, bolstering sustainable livelihoods.
The program’s WASH component made remarkable strides in improving access to WASH services, with the construction of water systems, sanitation facilities, and comprehensive hygiene training for community members. As a result, sanitation conditions for families with undernourished children significantly improved, making a tangible impact on overall health and well-being.
Pilipinas Shell Foundation’s Commitment to Positive Change
Pilipinas Shell Foundation’s dedication to social progress extends beyond the RTS program. Active engagement with prominent initiatives such as the National Nutrition Council’s Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) and Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) global movement reflects the foundation’s unyielding commitment to addressing critical social issues and fostering positive change within communities.
As the RTS program enters its sustainability phase under the stewardship of local stakeholders, it will continue to be a beacon of hope, providing essential support in the journey towards healthier, resilient, and prosperous communities across the Philippines.