The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will never forsake the residents of the remote Fuga Island in Aparri, Cagayan.
DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña assured the residents of the far-flung island located north of Luzon and part of the Babuyan archipelago that various science and technology (S&T) assistance through the Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) program will be extended to them.
“The island is identified as a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA) which is hampered by the lack of education, livelihood opportunities, and limited electricity service,” he said during his weekly report on Friday, June 4.
A far-flung barangay in Aparri, Cagayan, Fuga is accessible by a three to four-hour boat ride from Claveria town, he said.
De la Peña reported the DOST subjected the island to technology needs assessment and various S&T services have been identified to be provided, particularly in the areas of education, health and nutrition.
“Due to difficulties, parents who can only afford to send their children to high school and college have the privilege to pursue their studies in the mainland, and those who aren’t capable will continue to help their parents in the Island to find food to eat,” he laments.
He noted that Fuga island also uses solar energy from panels donated by supporting institutions to light up the villages.
STARBOOKS: DOST II’s education intervention
The DOST chief said the DOST Region 2’s intervention for education is the much-anticipated installation of Science and Technology Research-Based Openly-Operated KioskS (STARBOOKS) in elementary schools powered by solar panel and batteries.
“More than 400 students and teachers will be benefited to have a better access to education in the said project,” he said.
STARBOOKS is the country’s first science and technology (S&T) digital library in a box. It contains thousands of digitized science and technology resources in various formats (text and video/audio) placed in specially designed “pods” set in a user-friendly interface.
Water sanitation initiatives
De la Peña said DOST 2 is stepping up efforts to address the island residents’ lack of access to potable water.
“Under the entry point Clean Water and Sanitation, DOST 2 will conduct physico-chemical water testing on their water sources for microbiology contaminants as part of CEST intervention on water sanitation.”
He noted that about 2,000 residents of the Island are unable to access clean water for drinking and sanitation, posing a serious health risk to them.
With respect to the livelihood of the residents, the DOST 2 sought to conduct training on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) training in the island to improve the local product’s safety, quality, and shelf-life, the DOST chief said.
“Farming and fishing are the main livelihood in the Island, because of the abundance of natural resources such (as mung bean and corn) and with the presence of solar drying trays,” he said.
De la Peña said as part of CEST intervention on health and nutrition, the DOST 2 “aimed the calibration of weighing scales, along with a complementary feeding program conducted for underweight children in the island.”
Meanwhile, he reported that the residents of Sitio Naguilian, Barangay Fuga Island received essential relief packs and 10 units of multi-purpose drying facility on May 21-23.
What is CEST?
CEST is a package of S&T interventions which aims to build progressive, empowered and resilient rural communities.
The program is targeting to empower the poorest and most depressed communities in the country, via S&T interventions in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, livelihood/economic enterprise development, and disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.