Sustainable Livelihood Projects to Give Economic Boost to Ancestral Domains

DAVAO ORIENTAL – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) is set to provide funding for sustainable livelihood projects for the Indigenous Peoples living in the province’s ancestral domains.

Provincial Governor’s Office Chief of Staff Ednar G. Dayanghirang, during a recent consultative meeting with IP leaders here, said that P 1 million worth of livelihood projects will be given to each of the 16 identified ancestral domains of the province in support to the Provincial Government’s drive to uplift the lives of the IP communities.

Like the Provincial Government, the OPAPP, which has recognized the local government’s efforts in bringing opportunity to IP communities, also aims at promoting sustainable peace by addressing poverty and boosting economic opportunities for the marginalized sector.

During the consultative meeting, the IP leaders who are thrilled about the funding that would benefit their people have listed potential projects to be submitted to the agency. Bearing in mind the peculiar needs of their communities, they also considered projects that can benefit as many people as possible who belong to the poorest of the poor.

Consultative meeting with the IP leaders at the Provincial Capitol facilitated by PGO Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang

These projects include support for livestock production, high-value crop production, support to abaca farming, corn and upland rice farming, and tilapia production, among others.

Meanwhile, IP leaders also eye programs to empower the women and youth sectors through training on arts and crafts such as handicraft-making and dagmay weaving. IP leaders feel the need to encourage the younger generation to learn the traditional crafts as they are considered high-value trade feared to be slowly disappearing. “Learning the craft would not only serve as a way to build a niche for economic opportunity but as well as promoting and preserving the rich Mandaya culture,” said one IP leader.

Although poverty incidence among families in the province has dramatically decreased from 44.3% in 2009 to 21.3% in 2015, Dayanghirang says that for a province with a population of more than 600,000 there are still a significant number of people who are experiencing poverty here. He said that out of 288,861 poor individuals in the province, 167,996 are IPs, in which 31,627 are laborers and unskilled workers.

He adds that most of the poor are living in the ancestral domains situated in upland villages where accessibility and limited economic opportunities are the main challenges.

With Davao Oriental’s ancestral domain covering a total of 348,763 hectares which consists 67 percent of the province’s total land area, the Provincial Government feels that it is high-time for the government to focus its interventions on the ancestral domains.


Aiming at addressing poverty, the Provincial Government under the leadership of Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang puts emphasis on inclusive governance. As one big step, the Governor incorporated new strategies to the Provincial Development Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP) – the Ancestral Domain Strategy for the IPs and Jama’ah Strategy for the Muslim communities, which recognize an overwhelming priority to the marginalized sector including the IP communities. These strategies hope to provide these sectors wider opportunities through development programs and encourage them for meaningful participation in government.

Aside from addressing issues on poverty, the Provincial Government strategies of prioritizing ancestral domains also address the issue of peace and security.  

Among the programs that address these twin goals is the conceptualization of a regular outreach caravan dubbed as Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental Barangay Outreach Caravan which delivers much-needed goods and services closer to the people.

Seeing that IP communities are among the most vulnerable to the recruitment of communist insurgency, the program has been working at winning the hearts and minds of the people by reaching out to them and addressing their needs.

Within only a year of implementation, the program has created an indelible mark in the communities it has already reached. Communities formerly noted having sympathizers of the communist rebels now exhibit a change in their perception towards government workers and troops immersing down to their communities as they can now attest that they have felt the government’s care and touch.

Through inclusive governance, the Provincial Government hopes to shift policy from concentrating in the lowlands to broadening services and benefits to the hinterland villages in the uplands. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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