Palawan State University team members Marissa Pontillas, Eva Marie Ponce de Leon, and Gianina Decano facilitate discussion among fishers and fisherfolk of Brgy. Bucan

Philippines partners run focus groups

A series of focus groups facilitated by local partners in the Philippines, Palawan State University, El Nido Foundation and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development has been completed.

The data collected during these discussions will be used to map the links between ecological and socio-economic systems and identify how ecosystem services can be maintained or enhanced.

In rural barangays of the Municipality of El Nido in Palawan province in the Philippines, many families depend on fisheries and agriculture for food and livelihoods.             

How people use and interact with ecosystem services, and how these interactions, along with external factors, have led to problems, such as resource degradation, resource use conflicts, failed or dwindling livelihoods or persistent poverty, has been the subject of conversations at focus groups led by local CCRES partners.

Four teams of local partners conducted the focus groups with people from rural barangays, with each team addressing a different problem:

  1. Food insecurity ( El Nido Foundation )
  2. Mangrove loss (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development)
  3. Fish catch decline (Palawan State University)
  4. Water pollution (Palawan State University)

To understand the overarching issue of food insecurity, the El Nido Foundation, Inc. ran focus groups across all 18 barangays of the municipality, interacting with "affected" and "affecting" members of the community. They sought information on how the community utilizes various marine resources, and how it understands relationships within the system. They encouraged participants to share perceptions on how their activities could be affecting the environment.

The PSU team members (Marissa Pontillas, Eva Marie Ponce de Leon, Gianina Decano) led focus group discussions to learn how the state of fisheries resources has changed over time, and what activities and pressures may be influencing this. Participants have also been encouraged to think through possible actions towards more sustainable fisheries use.

Mangrove loss is perceived as a key problem at El Nido, as in many areas in the Philippines. The PCSD team (Glenda Cadigal, Grace Palatino, Jess Bream, Benjie Adriano) conducted focus group discussions in selected El Nido communities to help them articulate and recognise the drivers and activities affecting mangroves in their area. The focus groups also enabled participants to think through potential solutions to these issues.

In a rapidly developing coastal town like El Nido concerns about water quality are bound to arise. A team from PSU (Patrick Regionel, Roy Bero, Aynon Gonzales, Mark Buncag) ran a series of focus group discussions to understand how water quality may be affected by local activities in and around the coast, as well as by other external pressures.