Community Economic Development (CED) in the Philippines
The turning point of the Agri-Aqua Development Coalition - Mindanao
Founded in 1994 by 120 people’s organizations (PO’s) and cooperatives on the island of Mindanao, the Agri-Aqua Development Coalition (AADC) stems from the Congress for a People’s Agrarian Reform. Its objective is to build a peasant’s coalition relying on principles of decision-making by consensus, collective claim-making and unity based on solidarity. Since 2002, AADC has decided that its community economic development (CED) will be the cornerstone program of its community organization in response to the decline in agricultural and fishing revenues in the southern Philippines. In effect, the deterioration of agricultural and fishing revenues further increases the poverty of local populations. Since 2002, AADC orchestrates the interaction of local government units (LGU), people’s organizations (PO’s) organized into local coalitions (LC’s) and the private sector to plan and take action on the most sustainable ways to develop local economy to raise the quality of life of the rural poor and to enhance social cohesion at the community level.
At the core of the CED program is Community Enterprise Organizing (CEO). It prepares the organized poor to get involved in a meaningful way in local economic development and to claim its rightful share in the fruits of the local economy’s growth. The CEO process has four phases, divided as follows:
The social preparation of local people’s organizations because the passing to enterprise development is a change of paradigm.
The cooperative re-organization for more professional effectiveness in economic activities.
The development of Business Planning and Operationalization: to identify business opportunities, to put them into action, in partnership with LGU’s.
Networking and the partnership between the cooperative and the business sector is the last step of the process. As much as possible, contracts are negotiated between the cooperative and the transformation entity or the marketplace. For example, a cooperative made up of rubber producers, obtained a price definitely superior than each producer individually. With Internet, the cooperative is able to know world prices and the negotiation of the prices is thus better balanced.
“Current research confirms that in economically progressive rural areas, three things are evident — a culture of participation in local organizations, locally-owned enterprises on the rise and the development of a middle class base. CEO sets in motion cooperatives of the poor and promotes entrepreneurship as a strategy for local economic growth.”
AADC summarizes the meaning of its action: “the purpose of CEO is to increase the financial, human and social assets of the poor so that they can make it on their own in the mainstream. Market forces alone cannot be relied upon to bring about economic development that benefits the poor. Social forces come into play through social capital building. As an intermediary organization, AADC not only facilitates resource linkages for the businesses of agricultural cooperatives to grow. More importantly, AADC builds deep solidarity relationships among peoples within communities, giving rise to the development of communities, and not simply development in communities. Where such is the case, the over-all social well-being of the people, including the poor, is achieved…
Land to the tiller. Municipal waters exclusively for marginal fishermen. Clean and green environment for the next generations. Representation for the under-represented. Self-determination for indigenous peoples. Equal opportunities for men and women…
Agri-Aqua’s daily grind in the communities over the years are nourished by deep seated beliefs.
1. Power is derived from solidarity and mutual trust among its members.
2. Collective action brings a community closer to its developmental goals.
3. Participation is an exercise of people empowerment.
4. Generosity is a sustaining path towards righteousness and purity.
Above all these, the supreme values of love and faith, whose influences alleviate the burdens of poverty.”
International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development]