US EDEN Team Meets with ATI, Different Stakeholders for Project EDEN

Dr. Keith Tidball of Cornell University discusses the Extension Disaster Education Network to the ATI Key Officials

DILIMAN, Quezon City – “The extension’s job is to take the message on the people that we are extending research to and move it back up to the researchers.”

This was the message relayed by Dr. Keith Tidball, Senior Extension Associate of Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, who recently came to the Philippines as part of the team for the United States Extension Disaster Education Network (US EDEN).

The US EDEN team came for a ten-day visit to the country for possible collaboration in establishing disaster education and response patterned after the programs of US EDEN.
Dr. Tidball came with fellow visiting scholar, Dr. Virginia Morgan White of Auburn University, and Beverly Samuel of US Department of Agriculture – National Institute for Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to assist the Philippines in establishing the EDEN Philippine Network to be spearheaded by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).

Through land grant university system of the USDA NIFA, EDEN’s mission is to improve the nation’s ability to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Through interdisciplinary and multi-state research and education programs, EDEN provides the United States and its territories with preparedness and post-crisis education and assistance to individuals, families, farm operators, small businesses, rural communities, and local leadership in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

The US EDEN team first met with the ATI Management Committee last September 17, 2015 at the ATI Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City and shared the US EDEN framework. With this, Engr. Renato B. Dela Cruz, ATI Deputy Director, expressed the Institute’s interest in collaborating with the programs of US EDEN and the best practices shared during the meeting would be helpful for the country to learn and establish the same in terms of disaster management.

On the same day, the ATI organized the team's meeting with the representatives of Department of Agriculture - Field Operation Services, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Climate Change Commission, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to have a glimpse of the country’s current situation in terms of disaster management.

DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto De Luna on the other hand, assured that he will bring this up to the level of policy. It is within this context that one of the action plans of the US EDEN and the Philippine Team is to ensure the issuance of a DA Administrative Order which will establish the Philippines EDEN and eventually convene a national executive team composed of different national government agencies performing extension disaster roles. A Memorandum of Understanding is desired to cement a lasting collaboration among these agencies.

The team also conducted a number of briefings in the Bicol region and in Tacloban Leyte which are known for being disaster-prone areas. They also participated in the Bicol University’s Forum where approximately 50 stakeholders including the team from the Bicol EDEN and Bicol University faculty who shared the effective implementation of their programs. The team also observed disaster risk reduction programs and strategies in Albay and Leyte, as well as recovery efforts in areas impacted by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013.

During one of the meetings with the stakeholders in Leyte, Dr. Tidball emphasized that the current challenges are not the problem of the Philippines nor the United States, but everybody’s problem. “I can say that there are a lot of people thinking hard right now of these issues and there’s a lot of politics right now in terms of who gets much of the blame but keep in mind that the focus here is extension and the extension’s job, at least the way we understand it, is to extend whatever research is currently available.”

The results of the exchanges with the various stakeholders in the Bicol region, Leyte and Laguna will serve as inputs for the ATI in developing the framework for EDEN in the Philippines.