Sustainable Alternatives to Rice Paddies in the Philippines

Recently, IIRR partnered with the government of Guinayangan, in the Philippine Province of Quezon and local agricultural experts to initiate a special training program for farmers. The training covered a healthier, more productive and practical alternative method of rice farming commonly known as “SRI” or “System of Rice Intensification”.   It is a method of planting and growing rice that increases crop yield while avoiding the use of agro-chemicals, thus protecting the health of community members along with that of the surrounding environment.

As part of the initiative, thirty farmers attended a training session led by an organization called SRI Filipinas. Ten of the farmers are also participating in experiments with 6 varieties of rice testing which are best suited for SRI and local conditions. The main principles of SRI covered in the training included:

1.      Water Level – Soil should be kept moist rather than fully saturated so that the seedlings can maintain optimal oxygen levels. The more oxygen, the more root growth, the more root growth, the healthier the plant, and the more rice it will yield.

2.      Spacing – Seedlings should be spaced far apart from each other to allow maximum root growth.  This configuration will not only allow the rice to get more oxygen, but also more sun – creating optimal photosynthesis conditions.

3.      Timing – Seedlings should be planted when less than 15 days old.

4.      Planting – Seedlings should be planted in shallow soil, quickly and carefully to avoid root trauma and transplant shock

SRI is known to yield more rice at a much lower cost than in the traditional method of “paddy field farming” involving full flooding of parcels of arable land. The traditional paddy method discourages the growth of weeds; however, harvest requires large amounts of strenuous manual labor, can cause irreparable soil erosion, and produces a great deal of methane gas.

IIRR pursued this SRI training in order to explore sustainable agricultural systems for local farmers who have suffered due to decreasing rice production.  IIRR hopes that this training was the first step in strengthening ties in this community and plans to continue to support on-the-ground initiatives in resource management and food security in the province of Quezon.


B is for Bandage! IIRR offers CERT for kids

Global climate change has increased the number and magnitude of natural disasters within the past decade, and developing countries are the most affected by their unforgiving force. Thus, one of IIRR’s key initiatives is Disaster Risk Reduction.  With this initiative, IIRR has taken preemptive measures to reduce the impact of catastrophes in highly-vulnerable communities.  Making disaster-preparedness a cultural norm in these communities is a key objective of the program. As of this month, IIRR has expanded its Disaster Risk Reduction work to include youth. In June, IIRR successfully conducted and completed the first Junior Community Emergency Response Team(CERT) Training for twelve children ages 6-13 at the Yen Center in the Philippines. 

The youth participants were trained to identify frequently occurring disasters in the Philippines (i.e. typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and landslides). They were also taught to make head-to-toe assessments of individuals wounded in disasters, and how to treat them using basic first aid.  They learned everything from CPR, to shock assessment, to the dealing with impaled objects. Along with first aid, the children were taught basic fire safety and Light Search and Rescue (LSAR) techniques.  The kids then applied their learning with a role playing game.


 “IIRR will be offering this new customized training course in Junior CERT to schools, local organizations and other institutions in order to build the resilience of children against the impact of disaster and climate change.” – Jun Servano

The Junior CERT Training is spearheaded by Gonzalo “Jun” Servano, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Risk Reduction Project Officer, assisted by Maggie Rosimo, Learning Community Coordinator and Mark Cervantes, Program Specialist on Disaster Risk Reduction.

For more information or to inquire about Junior CERT Training, please contact: Jun Servano @ 

-Mary Ireland, IIRR Fundraising and Communications Associate

Invitation for IIRR Friends and Supporters

The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and Lutheran World Relief-Philippines will be launching a new manual on ‘Integrating Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) in Community Development and Local Government Planning’.

The Manual is a set of 3 books. Book 1 is all about”Concepts and Principles of CMDRR”. Book 2 is focused on ‘CMDRR in Community Development’ and Book 3 is on ‘CMDRR in Local Government Planning’.

Partners and Friends of IIRR are cordially invited!

February 22, 2011, 3:30pm at IIRR’s YC James Yen Center, Jim Johnson Hall (in Silang, Cavite)

Guest of Honor – Ms Yoko Saito of UNCRD – Disaster Management Office, Hyogo, Japan

We hope to see you there!


Coming Soon! A New Community-Focused User Guide with Tools and Know-How for Effective Disaster Mitigation

Revision of United Nations Center for Regional Development’s  User’s Guide on Community Based Disaster Management

(Silang, Cavite, Philippines) Selected Local Government Units and IIRR along with other Civil Society Organizations in the Philippines will be taking part in the revisions of the User’s Guide on Sustainable Community Based Disaster Managementof the United Nations Center for Regional Development or UNCRDthrough a Consultative Workshop to be held on February 10, 2011 at IIRR’s campus in Silang, Cavite, Philippines.


The last edition of the User’s Guide was published in 2004 highlighting various tools, methodologies and case studies focused on Community Based Disaster Management. The overall goal of UNCRD’s Community Based Diaster Management work is to achieve safety and sustainability of livelihoods for effective disaster mitigation, focusing on three key elements: self-help, co-operation, and education. 

Recently, UNCRD held an Expert’s Meeting in Kobe, Japan and agreed to update and revise the User’s Guide on CBDM. UNCRD recognized the need to integrate Climate Change Adaptation and new updates related to disaster risk reduction and management into the User’s Guide.


As a partner of UNCRD, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction will take the lead in revising “Tools for Local Disaster Managers” and “Tools for Community Workers” sections of the User’s Guide.


The Local Government Units who will be joining the Consultative Workshop includes the Province of Albay, Municipality of Dumangas in Iloilo, Tagaytay City, San Pedro City in Laguna, Municipalities of Silang, Noveleta, Naic, Bacoor and Rosario in Cavite and Makati City Government.
The CSO Sector will be represented by Care Nederlands, Center for Disaster Preparedness, Ecosystems Works for Essential Benefits, and Mahintana Foundation along with IIRR.


The Consultative workshop aims to present initial comments on and critiques of the User’s Guide while integrating climate change adaptation and highlighting best practices and case studies related to the Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.


A UNCRD Representative from Kobe, Japan will be arriving in the Philippines at the end of the month during the Validation Workshop to review the draft of the Revised User’s Guide.

For more on IIRR’s Disaster Risk Reduction, please see:

Photo Album – Applied Learning of Disaster Risk Reduction in the community

Kobe, Japan Conference Participation, IIRR

Study on Impacts of Climate Change on Kenyan Pastoralists

IIRR highlights continued need for Disaster Risk Reduction

(Re-)Writing the Book on Disaster Risk Reduction

IIRR leads a discussion on building community leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) International Disaster Management Symposium


Ms. Emily Monville Oro, IIRR Philippines Representative, presented case studies from IIRR’s community-focused work in Bicol, Philippines and led a discussion on Early Warning Systems and contingency planning within a Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction framework to more than 200 scientists and specialists at the UNCRD symposium in January 2011 in Kobe, Japan. Ms. Oro also participated in a roundtable that concluded Disaster Risk Reduction guidelines and toolkits must be revised with Climate Change Adaptation in mind. In response UNCRD has decided to revise its “Sustainable Community-Based Disaster Management Practices in Asia” to focus on India, Bangladesh, Fiji, and the Philippines. IIRR will be a contributor to the new publication, revising guidelines for community workers and local representatives. IIRR has also recently developed plans for a sourcebook on Participatory Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Methods and Tools to be aimed at local community leaders and local governments and is looking for partners in this potential writeshop.  

For more information, please contact Emily Monville Oro at IIRR, Philippines.  

IIRR Highlights Continued Need for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Philippines

(Manila, 2011) There is a continued, urgent need for Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction in the Philippines! In just the last month, approximately 56 people have been killed in intense flooding and landslides in the Philippines and another 19 are missing. The increase in weather-related incidents is attributed to an unusually large amount of rainfall and storm frequency for the season. The country’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reports that 1.6 million citizens have been affected and nearly 500,000 people required relief assistance in the last month. The council is bracing for additional battering because the typhoon season of 2011 is expected to be aggravated by La Nina effects.  <news article source: The State, January 18, 2011>


Photo source: Froilan Gallardo /AP Photo

IIRR is doing its part to prepare communities for natural disasters and organize their own disaster relief and management plans through our Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction work (both in the Philippines and in Africa). In 2010, we held 16 separate community managed disaster risk reduction trainings and awareness events in the Philippines alone. Our next training courses for development organizations and community leaders will be held May 9-20 in the Philippines and June 6-17 in Ethiopia.

For more information on IIRR’s Disaster Risk Reduction work, follow the links below:

Health as a Foundation of Safety in Disaster Risk Reduction

Roundtable Discussion on Disaster Risk Reduction (IIRR)

IIRR to sit on Technical Working Group for Climate Change Adaptation

IIRR Discusses Community Climate Resilience at 2010 Climate Investment Funds Partnership Forum

Building Capacity of Cordaid’s India Partners

Study Program on Sustainable Resources Management Springboards Partnership with NABARD

Local Group Organizes Training on CMDRR 

Local Group becomes first ever Philippine Certifed Emergency Response Team

IIRR joins training of trainers on Sphere Disaster Response

CMDRR Training of Trainers in Cagayan de Oro

“Most Outstanding Rural Woman” Honored

(via, Anna Valmero, November 5, 2010)

The Philippine Commission on Women has named farmer and single-mother Amelia Gresones the Most Outstanding Rural Woman of the Philippines. She will be representing the country at the World Summit for Women in Geneva Switzerland in the spring.

Ms. Gresones is a widowed mother of 5, who grows organic produce on her two hectare farm to support her family’s nutrition needs and sells the surplus to her neighbors. She is also an accomplished fisherwoman (a skill passed down from her father). Amelia has dedicated her life to helping her community adopt sustainable farming and is an active member of her local Rural Improvement Club.

Click here for the story and her picture

Women around the worlsd bear the responsbility for feeding and supporting their families. The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction is doing its part to support them through Adult Education, Food Security, Asset Building, and Wealth Creation programs. To learn more, please visit our website at and read this related article:

Helping Entrepreneurs Harness Local Value Chains

How to Celebrate Organic Harvest Month

September is Organic Harvest Month! You can recognize the importance of organic and sustainable gardening by supporting IIRR’s Bio-Intensive Gardening Program.


We train rural communities to farm with organic and locally appropriate techniques and materials. Over the past 20 years, IIRR’s work has successfully established more than 630 school gardens, changed government nutrition policy in the Philippines, and trained more than 2,000 parents and teachers in organic and locally appropriate methods and materials. Now IIRR has the ambitious plan of “growing” our Bio-Intensive Gardening Program to reach 5,000 new schools and integrate environmental education, nutrition, health, and climate change adaptation. If you are interested in supporting Bio-Intensive Gardening, please visit our website –

US $6.5 million mega-grant for the Philippines from EU, GTZ


via DevEx, The Northern and Southern Leyte Provinces in the Philippines are the target communities for a “mega-grant” of about US $6.5 million for a one-year program to combat rural poverty and improve food security. From initial reports, it seems that the plans include cash-for-work programs through funding from the European Commission, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, and the Philippine Department of Agriculture. I hope that these projects include training and sustainability plans so that it is not a temporary cash infusion, but a long-term change in these communities.

link to article – EU, GTZ Boost Food Security in the Philippines by Ma. Rizza Leonzon (DevEX, The Development Newswire, August 24, 2010)

Aug 7 & 8 – Malagos Farm Fair!


This weekend’s Malagos Farm Fair near Davao City will showcase organic & sustainable farming and will feature a livestock sale. P250 entrance fee covers lunch and demonstrations of renewable energy backyard farm animal raising techniques, high value crops for the climate, and a hayride.