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Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge MOST/CIRAN
PHILIPPINES BP.20

TITLE

Overcoming labour shortages through indigenous mutual-help groups

DESCRIPTION

To improve soil erosion and poor soil fertility, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) introduced agroforestry measures. But because the measures were labour-intensive, they were being adopted only slowly. After a visit to a similar project, the farmers themselves suggested forming traditional mutual-help groups for the agroforestry work. These groups are called hunglunan in Albay province, alayon in Cebu, and tropa in Cavite. They usually consist of four to six members, but sometimes up to 10 or more members, who help one another with labour-intensive agricultural activities such as land preparation, planting, weeding, and harvesting. Members also help one another for fiestas, weddings and other social events. Naturally, information is often shared by the group members.

THEMES:
COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION, LABOUR SHORTAGE, WORK SHARING, FARMERS, SELF-HELP

COUNTRY: PHILIPPINES
Regions: Albay Province

INDIGENOUS ASPECTS

The local labour groups formed for the project were crucial in implementing the agroforestry measures. The use of local approaches and the fact that the groups were formed by the farmers themselves were important factors. Experience in many development projects has shown that groups introduced by outsiders seldom survive for long.

SUSTAINABILITY

The approach’s sustainability depends very much on the project for which it is used. For example, if people do not find the agroforestry measures useful, they will leave the mutual-help groups. Another factor probably influencing sustainability is whether the groups formed themselves according to their own criteria or whether the groups were imposed by outsiders.

STAKEHOLDERS AND BENEFICIARIES

Farmers have been the initiators, actors, stakeholders and users of the practice.

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS:

  • Local people initiated the practice and were familiar with it.
  • Local labour-sharing arrangements can be used as an effective tool for making labour-intensive activities more acceptable.
WEAKNESSES:

The practice might exclude households headed by women, but no data were available to confirm this.

IT IS CONSIDERED SUCCESFUL BECAUSE:

The practice worked well to disseminate information and achieve the adoption of new agroforestry techniques.

SUCCESS EXPRESSED IN QUALITATIVE OR QUANTITATIVE TERMS:

Within eight years, 210 famers in 40 hungluan groups in 10 villages had adopted the new agroforestry practices.

POTENTIAL FOR REPLICATION

There are two prerequisites for replicating the practice:

  • Traditional labour-sharing arrangements should be present which the project can build on.
  • The project must be supported by the farmers themselves; if they are not interested in the project’s objective, the labour-sharing arrangement will not work.
The farmers had observed the practice during a farmer-to-farmer visit to Cebu Province, Philippines (where it had obviously also worked well). IIRR later tried to introduce the mutual-help groups in another project not far from Manila, but the approach did not work well because the people lacked interest in agroforestry. They preferred instead to seek employment opportunities in the city.

Local mutual-help groups cannot make up for flaws in the larger project.

PERIOD:
From 1986, with no end in sight.

CONTACT PERSONS:

  • Dr. Julian Gonsalves, Vice-President, Program IIRR

  • E-mail: ovp-iirr@cav.pworld.net.ph
  • Scott Killough, Assistant Vice-President, Program IIRR
(Address see below)

ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED:

Source of this information:
IIRR 1996. Recording and using indigenous knowledge: A manual. International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.
Also available on the Internet at http://www.panasia.org.sg/iirr/ikmanual/.
The specific practice can be found at http://www.panasia.org.sg/iirr/ikmanual/hlpgrp.htm.

Cooperating organization:

International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR)
Regional Office for Asia
Y.C. James Yen Center
Silang 4118, Cavite, Philippines
Direct dial: (63-46) 414-2417
Fax: (63-46) 414-2420
Email: roa-iirr@cav.pworld.net.ph
Url: http://www.cav.pworld.net.ph/~iirr/
or: http://www.panasia.org.sg/iirr/

World Neighbors
Address not available

Mag-Uumad Foundation
784-H San Roque ext.
Mambaling, Cebu City
Philippines


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