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GIDIFA

Global Infrastructure, Development & International Finance Agency

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kitchenIt is important to note that this is a GIDIFA funded program and not a program of GIDIFA proper.

The Isolated Community Service Center (ICSC) derives its name from its conception as a means to provide for the basic essentials of life in more rural and largely isolated communities. The overall concept however, has been greatly expanded to include it in additional programs and to utilize the resources generated more efficiently in order to assist even larger numbers of people. As such, the name may change but the overall concept will remain the same. Ideally, there will be at least one ICSC facility for every five to ten Barangays based on local needs and the strategic positioning of the facilities on a national level. Once these facilities are in operation, they can immediately begin to assist the local populations and upon the completion of the networks or districts, they can begin to provide even more assistance on the national and even global level.

 

Originally, the ICSC facilities were designed to provide for the basic needs specifically in those isolated locations wherein there is little or no electrical power, no clean water facilities, and very little in the way of provisions for sanitation. These are often among those communities most directly ... and disproportionately impoverished so it seemed a very good place to start. While different provisions must be made for different communities, the basic setup for the facilities is fairly standardized, though certainly adaptive in nature so as to be able to more completely meet the needs of the individual communities. Each community will have livestock and agricultural pursuits, butchering facilities, commercial kitchen facilities and laundry facilities in addition to power generating facilities with an average generating capacity of two hundred kilowatts.

Agricultural crops will be grown to allow for the provision of these harvests to the local community members that are most impoverished. The setup for the livestock will be such that there is room for an average of five hundred sow-breeders, two thousand chickens and fish ponds for a selection of meats and an important source of proteins for those same residents. These will be coupled with butcheries and commercial kitchens that meet or exceed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Standards to give the people receiving these goods, additional capabilities to store and utilize them for future use. Current trends are such that, when these people do harvest a crop, they are forced to sell it quickly or to risk allowing it to go to complete waste. Not only does this cost them financially as they are frequently forced to sell their goods at reduced rates, but it also prevents them from keeping the proverbial and literal fruits of their own labors.

These kitchens will further serve to provide storage space, including spaces for dry storage and refrigerated storage, allowing for more people to keep more of what they produce in addition to the subsidies that are provided by these facilities. Additional courses will be offered in canning and other services to further expand their ability to keep what they have earned and to help them learn more viable and marketable skills in numerous areas so as to make it easier to get quality jobs and incomes. Furthermore, these facilities will be left open for the people, with certain conditions regarding cleaning up their own messes of course, so that they do have clean, safe and sanitary facilities for cooking and food storage, but the other portions of the facility will also serve to benefit the entire community as well.

Many of these communities lack even basic waste water infrastructure, much less any kind of viable water management system in place. The idea of community laundries will hopefully serve a role as a multi-purpose aspect of these facilities. It will first and foremost serve to provide a source of clean, safe and sanitary facilities ... not so much for washing the clothes, although that is certainly the primary function, but for the safe disposal of the water that has been used. Currently, these waters, filled full of soaps, softeners and a veritable chemical cocktail, are dumped, unchecked back into the ground. From there, they seep into the local aquifers and further reduce productivity and even endanger lives and livelihoods. Furthermore, for those people who are washing clothes for others, their tasks will be greatly reduced as well. For those that do prefer to wash their own clothes, it is hoped that this will prove to be a viable spot to gather and allow for a more social discourse between the members of the community.

Power generation is necessary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that most of the more isolated and rural communities have very little, if any real access to electricity. Furthermore, the electrical grid as it has been established, is substantially more fragile in such locations and easily broken. (Grid stability and vulnerabilities are a seemingly global issue, not necessarily relegated to the more rural settings, but that is a different subject) In short, very few of these people have the benefit of even the most rudimentary forms of access to electricity. Simple chores such as charging a cell phone or even finding a radio or television operable during times of real crisis, such as during storms, become overwhelming challenges. The capacity to generate electricity will also be utilized to fully power the ICSC facilities as well ... as if that were not readily apparent already. Though it should be noted, this electrical current that is generated will also be utilized for the benefit of the entire community as well.

In many of the more isolated Barangays, power is a major issue, and even those that do have electricity, suffer substantially more brownouts than those living in the cities will experience. Basketball Courts and Barangay Halls are forced to shut down at sundown or trying to operate by candle and flash light. Stores, churches and other community locations are forced to close early and people are left to their own vices. Those that do happen to be out after dark are forced to tread through often brutal and unforgiving, even dangerous terrain, just to get home. All of this could be easily remedied through the local provision of electrical current and the addition of street lights along the major paths and roads in the locations surrounding the ICSC facilities. Shops can stay open later, people can get out and about more, social functions will not be as restrictive and, even if the direct impact is minimal, even the local economy will improve to some degree. Where does this power come from though?

There are currently many alternatives to traditional power plants being considered and tested, all of which are fully self-sustainable. In the case of the ICSC facilities in the Philippines, it is most likely that the original power sources will be powered by bio-fuels from the pig waste. Talks are also underway to the point where they could be considered negotiations, with a domestic feed producer to produce organic feeds that help to reduce the levels of copper and zinc in the solid animal waste used in conjunction with bio-matter to generate biofuel. There are some issues currently with the ability of the ICSC facilities to be able to pipe the gas directly to all of the households, but this gas will also serve to provide cooking fuels for the local residents, hot water within the facilities and perhaps even for heating to some degree. The residual or effluent from the process will then be used to create organic fertilizers and emulsifiers for the local farmers and other residents in an effort to reduce the level of harmful chemicals, primarily the nitrates, being dumped into the local soil (and aquifers) with the current farming methods.

There are other, more mitigating factors that have to be considered as well however. Among the primary concerns are worries about the effect on the local economic systems and the potential for harm. Since the desired effect will be to improve the quality of life for the local residents, it is imperative that every potential for harm be closely considered and planned for. Among the most obvious of these, are the potentials to harm the local economies. The presence of five hundred breeder sows, two thousand chickens and a host of fish farms could literally bankrupt the local producers if the harvests were just dumped, haphazardly into the local markets. A lot of planning has gone into developing a means to avoid this scenario however.

The primary, direct recipients of the harvests from these facilities are not currently contributing much of anything at all to the local markets, so there should not be any adverse impact from their participation. Still, it is necessary to utilize the harvests without impacting the local markets also. Initially, the idea was to provide for a franchiser of restaurants and food carts of sorts, and to work as suppliers for national chains. These options are still in consideration and will be explored further, but there are much better, and more humanitarian uses for these products as well. Working in close cooperation with local administrators and officials, food programs will be established to provide hot, nutritional and hopefully tasty meals to those who currently do not enjoy such a benefit. Among the most notable of these efforts are the implementation of a feeding program ... a lunch program for the local schools.

School Lunch Programs are not a new concept, but until now, they have been mostly out of reach. Add in the lack of the proper facilities necessary to cook the foods, and it is very difficult to imagine being able to provide hot, nutritional meals for all of the students. If successful, it is possible that this program can be expanded to those poor people in the community who have a known history of requiring the assistance of DSWD and even for the elderly and infirm in those areas around the ICSC facilities. Eventually, as an entire network of these facilities is constructed on a national level, the programs can easily be expanded. As the new and innovative agricultural methods are introduced and perfected, and as harvests are increased, it should be possible to expand the program to the extent that a national feeding program can be put in place without any undue burdens on the taxpaying citizens.

Eventually, these programs will be expanded to include deepwater and open-water fishing fleets, larger, saltwater fish, shrimp and even crab farms and serve to feed more than just the poor and down-trodden. These programs will be an integral part of the overall establishment of the GIDIFA community developments and further serve to feed the students, the elderly and infirm and perhaps even to subsidize the availability of food for those on the front lines of the defense of this nation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, who, despite their dedication and service, remain largely underpaid and underappreciated by some. As more resources become available, these programs can be further expanded to include hospitals, long and short term care facilities, orphanages, and even homes for the aged, infirm and mentally challenged.

It should go without saying that every person, regardless of their situation at birth, deserves safe and secure housing, nutritional sustenance, health and medical care and treatment and education. When those problems have been adequately addressed, it will be possible to begin working on the next challenges life has to offer.

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