Cagwait's Best Program: A Development Strategy in Mobilizing Community
Awarding positive or good behaviour tends to reinforce that particular behaviour. This was established by renowned psychologist, B. F. Skinner.
It seems that the LGU of the Municipality of Cagwait is also aware of this because it came out with an awards program—i.e. Cagwait’s Best Program—to motivate the pursuit of excellence in local governance among its constituents. In particular, the LGU provides awards for the model home, barangay or purok and school that manages to earn the highest assessment points in several areas, namely, clean and green beautification, solid waste management, community involvement, peace and order, education, health, nutrition and sanitation, food production, livelihood initiatives and tourism development.
Initiated in 2008, the LGU institutionalized the awards program by providing a yearly allocation. The contest is a municipal wide search which involves 19,899 residents, 73 puroks, 11 barangays and 14 elementary schools. As with other contests, the local implementers were barred from joining.
The contestants go through a rigorous screening process conducted by a site assessment\ team and technical working committees. The Municipal Technical Working Group (MTWG), Municipal Assessment Team (MAT) and Municipal Awards Committee (MAC) are composed of representatives from various schools, government offices and the private sector. Meanwhile, the Barangay Assessment Teams (BAT) and Purok Assessment Teams (PAT) are composed of Barangay Councilors, Health Workers, Teachers, Purok Presidents and Private Sector Representatives.
The award categories are divided into the Municipal, Barangay and Purok Level Contests. The consistent winners or those who won in three consecutive years in the purok and barangay level are inducted into the Hall of Fame Awards so that others can also vie for the awards. The awarding ceremony is held on the 20th day of January or during the Araw ng Cagwait Celebration.
Awards for Model Home Category in the Purok and Barangay Level Contest are in the form of cash, of which 50% is solicited from the funds of the respective barangay and 50% is shouldered by the Municipal Government. In the Municipal Level Contest, the awards are in the form of Project Funds (except for the Model Home Category) which are obtained from the Municipal Government and are only released upon the awardees’ submission of the required Project Proposal.
The first prize awardees from the Model Home Category and Model Purok Category at the Barangay Level are treated as official entries for the Municipal Level contest. The Model School and Model Barangay Category awardees are directly evaluated and identified by the MAT.
Meanwhile, the MAC consolidates its assessment findings using the comparative level sheet of all the nominees. It then declares the individual awardees for each component and the barangay nominee with the highest overall score in all the award categories becomes the “Model Barangay Government” for the year.
Cagwait’s Best Program encouraged solidarity, support and cooperation among the community members. It also enhanced the people’s awareness about the municipality’s development program.
As expected, community participation and performance improved over time. More importantly, the problems and issues concerning clean and green beautification, solid waste management, community involvement, education, health, nutrition and sanitation, food production, livelihood initiatives and area and community administration, mobilization and development were\ identified and addressed by the LGU and the community as a whole.
For instance, the implementation of solid waste management has improved with five of the 11 barangays establishing their own Material Recovery Facilities (MRF). Cagwait’s streets are now noticeably cleaner. Moreover, barangay health stations now regularly conduct immunization, mass feeding, vitamin supplementation and medicine provision, and monitoring of children’s weight. Membership in PhilHealth has also increased from 300 households in 2007 to over 3,000 beneficiaries in 2010.
Because of this program, one of the 11 barangays (i.e. Barangay Tawagan) was recognized and awarded in 2009 as Caraga Region’s Best Barangay on Good Health Practices under the Rural Areas Category and was awarded a cash prize of Php 150,000.00. Barangay Tawagan is now widely known as the only Barangay which has sanitary toilets in all households. Meanwhile, the Municipality of Cagwait won second place in the 2009 Gawad Probinsiya sa KAPALIGIRAN Program (Kaunlaran ng mga Pamahalaang Lokal sa Kalinisan at Kapaligirang Luntian) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government during the Araw ng Surigao del Sur in June 2009.
Cagwait has shown that with the correct incentives, and by eliciting the participation of other sectors, community development can proceed at a harmonious and rewarding pace—a feat that can easily be replicated by other local governments.