Coastal communities the world over are at the forefront of the battle with climate change. Often among the poorest and most marginalised communities, they stand to lose more than anyone as the full effects of a warmer climate begin to manifest themselves.
Growing threats of stronger tropical cyclones, sea-level rise and potentially catastrophic tsunamis, fisherfolk communities are also forced to face the livelihood challenges of large scale commercial fishing, diminishing access to fresh water, resource-use conflicts between various coastal activities and a lack of livelihood support.
Given the scale and complexity of these issues, building the resilience of these issues can be seen to be a task that requires collaborative and innovative approaches. Among these are the need to strengthen the economic resilience of these communities – to empower them with the ability to better manage their own fate, and to better defend themselves against future shocks.
In 2015, People and the Sea engaged some local families of the island to open their homes to offer accommodation to foreign volunteers. This social enterprise would provide an additional source of income. This concept soon developed into the creation of a formal ‘people’s association’ – Inatô Homestay.
As well as providing an alternative livelihood, it was also conceived to act as a conduit for building strong networks within the local community founded on trust and mutual co-operation.
Crucially, Inatô Homestay provides economic resilience to these members through the establishment of a common ‘seedfund’. A fifty pesos per night seedfund contribution is automatically deducted from the hosts’ income, and set aside as a common fund among the members. The seedfund acts as a social insurance that ensures all members will have equal dividend available in the event of critical, but unforeseen expenditures.
In 2019, all members of the Association received recognition by The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with the formal issuing of their municipal business permits.
Beyond this, the project has also sought to promote the adoption of an environmental ‘code of conduct’ by, for example, requiring families adopt sound practices with regard to their solid waste management.
Furthermore, it has become an opportunity for cultural change, whereby the guests have a brief insight into the everyday life of Filipino families on the island.
In 2019, we began a partnership with World Vision International Philippines and launched the Community – Managed Savings and Credit Associations (CoMSCA). CoMSCA is a savings scheme which aims to empower vulnerable families and teach them financial literacy.
CoMSCA is a community savings mechanism where local families pool their financial resources to meet members’ predictable expenses and facilitate household cash flow management
People and the Sea team supports these groups until they become fully autonomous, a process that can take between 6 and 12 months. During this time, the team is helping recruit members for the new groups, setting the by-laws, organising the first few meetings, calculating share prices…etc. The process is designed to be accessible however there is often a need for some guidance at the outset.
On Christmas Day 2019, Typhoon Ursula swept across the Philippines.
This was the 29th and final storm of that season, yet for the community of Malpascua the most destructive. Sustained wind speeds of over 165 km/h left a trail of destruction across the island, with peoples homes and livelihoods turned literally upside down in a matter of hours.
With nearly all households across the island affected, members of the Inatô Homestay Association came together to discuss what action could be taken.
Over 60,000 PHP was available in the association seedfund to that was able to be equally divided between all members. This was under the agreement that it was used to fund immediate repair of typhoon-related damages. Equal distribution of the seedfund money stregthened solidarity among the homestay families, each of them being able to help rebuild each other’s houses through the social insurance money they had built together.
Identified as a need within the community from the outset, People and the Sea looked at options to develop livelihood options of local households, who were often dependent on subsistence fishing activity for part of their income.
The initial trial - only two households involved, with 4 guests in total.
Deemed a success, the Association formed, established values, and duties. Membership grows.
6000+ nights, 1.4 million pesos, dedicated website, 370 guests.
20 families now part of Inatô Homestay. All registered with Local Governemnt and Dept. of Tourism.