MANILA – Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST), a program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), may indeed alleviate poverty in the country.
The program aims to empower the poorest and most depressed communities through science and technology (S&T) interventions in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, disaster-risk reduction, and climate change adaptation. It also targets to introduce to communities the S&T interventions on basic education and livelihood development.
ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation managing director, Gina Lopez, was among those who showed confidence in CEST, citing she believes it’s possible to eradicate poverty in the Philippines.
Lopez emphasized that she needs DOST’s help. In one of the agency’s event, she shared the story of how the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation invested on and developed Ugong Rock, a site in Brgy. Tagabinet, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan which, according to her, features a spectacular 18 million year-old rock formation. She said the foundation developed it into a tourist attraction, with a zipline and caving adventure that boosted the place as one of the must-see destinations in the city.
She continued, citing that those developments turned what was once a poor community into a major tourist attraction. Thus, it has brought livelihood opportunities to the people, and helped in improving quality of life. Lopez also shared that from an annual income of Php 133,800 in 2009, it has reached to 30 million by 2014.
The managing director said that the people’s goal was to eliminate poverty in the entire barangay and the whole municipality. She noted that she’s going to make it possible, through DOST’s help.
They’re going to venture in agriculture, and she acknowledge that they cannot do it alone. “We need S&T if we want to go into it, into processing,” she said.
The DOST said providing equipment for food processing is just one of the many activities offered under CEST.
The other activities include supplementary food feeding program, distribution and utilization of clay water filters, deployment of Orvicidal/Larvicidal (OL) traps for dengue prevention, establishment of municipal-based weather forecasting system and early warning system through the installation of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and automated rain gauge, water hyacinth production development, installation of STARBOOKS (Science and Technology Research-Based Openly-Operated Kiosk System) in schools, assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through SETUP (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program), packaging and labelling, and various trainings.
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo noted that every CEST model community is a work in progress in the entire country. As of July, there are 79 CEST communities. Through CEST, the agency will be capable of building a more active, sustainable and smarter communities. The DOST also assured that appropriate, timely and reliable S&T intervention would serve as an avenue in improving the lives of people in the communities.