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Working towards self-sufficiency

In recent years, over 6,000 families have been relocated from across the Mega Manila region to the area of Southville 9 (KKSV9) in Pinugay. The relocated families have settled in a 20-hectare area here, on abandoned pasture land which was once part of the Marikina Watershed.

Families who cannot farm or work with the land are struggling financially, and cannot afford to pay the cost of food supplies and basic daily necessities. The employment opportunities available here are extremely limited, due to the lack to the lack of trade outlets, factories, and production facilities, while the high cost of goods in the area, specifically food items, is a major cause for concern.

The KKSV9 district is relatively isolated, and traders here charge extortionate prices for food and basic necessities. Buying such items locally costs between 10% and 30% more than the prices in the closest town, but due to the location of the settlement, transport to the nearest large town comes at a cost of 100 Philippine pesos, or approximately €2, for a one-way journey. This is an inconceivable amount of money to spend on transport, when people are struggling to feed their families – the cost of transport alone would buy a 5 kg bag of rice, which could feed a family of four for three days.

The Cooperative Store Livelihood Programme

This situation is the cause of a huge amount of suffering for the residents of the KKSV9 district, as traders in the area hold the monopoly on food supplies and basic hygiene essentials. With the help of funding from the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, families who have settled in the area are now employing an alternative to the current retail situation by setting up a two-step cooperative store project.

Phase One will involve a tailoring and sewing programme, while Phase Two will be the establishment of a consumer store trading under a co-ownership system that offers a socialised pricing scheme. This project has been named the Cooperative Store Livelihood Programme, and could potentially mark the beginning of a future cooperative, or a chain of local traders in the area, which would diffuse the current situation of excessive pricing based on supply and demand.

In 2016, the Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart donated funds to help the establishment of the programme. Phase One is now in the planning stages, with training groups currently being set up for the tailoring and sewing course.

The main goals in setting up this two-step programme are to empower local families, and to reduce the cost of essential goods, especially food, making these necessities more accessible and affordable. In setting up a local store, the cost of transport to the nearest town will be translated into food on the table for local families, while setting up the potential for similar future endeavours will benefit the community as a whole in the years to come.

50% of the residents of the KKSV9 district were unemployed prior to this project being launched, while the remaining 50% were working on a low-income basis. Hunger is a very real issue for these families, and one which has the potential for serious long-term damage if it is not addressed. Not only will this store provide the local community with the supplies it needs at fair prices, it also brings with it new employment opportunities and the potential for further social development in Pinugay. Thanks to the generosity and support of MSC friends in the Irish Province and around the world, the Cooperative Store Livelihood Programme is already encouraging social development that will benefit the area for future generations to come.