Dap-ayan: Innovative Approach to Development
In far-flung areas hardly accessible from the seal of power, government help is slow in coming. If and when it does, assistance comes in the form of programs that do not address the real needs of people.
The municipality of Gonzaga in Cagayan province, a town of traditional farmers and fishermen, was no exception. Until the Dap-Ayan Ti Barangay.
“If not for the Dap-Ayan, we would not have known that there were many problems at the barangay level–massive unemployment and underemployment, rivers drying up, and forests vastly devastated,” says Mayor Epifanio G. Gaspar.
Dap-Ayan, an Ilocano term for “forum”, is a weekly consultative meeting among the municipality’s 25 barangays. It is a forum “where everybody is entitled to have access to information and the right to express themselves”.
The proceeding of each meeting are not just jotted down on paper; they are also broadcast over the community radio.
With the communication lines open between the people at the grassroots level and those in the lead, the municipal government was able to assess its priorities, realign programs according to the needs of the community, and implement meaningful changes.
“The community determines what can be and cannot be done,” says Mayor Gaspar.
The impact of the Dap-Ayan, which has been going on for four and a half years now, has been far-reaching. Economic, socio-cultural and environmental benefits are evident in the form of infrastructure development, protection of natural resources, and self-sustenance of the communities.
Concrete examples of successful programs arising from the Dap-Ayan are the “One Barangay, One Product” project, which provides alternative livelihood programs; and the Wangag River restoration project. Road networks are also being improved. A Task Force Sagip Watershed was formed and has resulted in better water supply for farm irrigation and conservation of forest resources.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2003 Galing Pook Awards.