Puerto Princesa’s Eco-Kolek Program
[Credit: palawan-news.com ] Nanay, one of the local scavengers in Barangay Bancao-bancao

Who would take a bath on the beach if there is plastic and other waste floating into the water? We cannot deny the fact that there are people who just don’t care about the environment and ignore their responsibility for their garbage. We often see plastic bags, plastic wrappers and other waste on roads, rivers and beaches and this damages our ecosystem.

The three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) have been promoted and the best way to manage the waste from the community. By using this 3 R’s, it will lessen the workloads for the garbage collectors and scavengers.

In Puerto Princesa, an Eco-Kolek Project was built by the local organization Project Zacchaeus. The project's name “Eco” is a shortened name of the ecosystem and “Kolek” means collect. John Vincent Gastanes, the founder said that they have spent a year to comply and process for the USAID Grant. The aim for this program is to help local scavengers and promote the cleanliness for the environment.

Gastanes also said that they will be supporting local scavengers, vehicles, uniforms and training for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. They will also be renamed as the “Eco-warriors”. As they will be giving their strengths, work under the heat of the sun to help nature.

On January 14, the USAID Clean Cities, Blue Ocean awards granted Eco-Kolek $250,000 to use for their project. It took a year for Project Zacchaeus to prepare and comply for the USAID. They admitted that they have struggled as it was their first time.

There are total of five projects in the Philippines that was given a grant by the USAID’s CCBO which are Communities Organized for Resource Allocation for a project in Parañaque, Catholic Relief Services for a project in Manila, Green Antz Builders, Inc. for a project in Pasig, The Plastics Credit Exchange for a project in Manila, and Project Zacchaeus, operating out of Puerto Princesa.

All five projects granted by the USAID were targeting plastic waste in the community, especially on oceans. According to the US' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Woods Hole Sea Grant, a plastic bottle is estimated to decompose in 450 years into the seawater. That’s a lot of years! How about the thousands of plastics? This will not only damage our environment but also the living things, including us.

This program was focused on Barangay Bancao-bancao, Puerto Princesa and being supported by the DOST-funded Technology Business Incubator – Palawan International Technology Business Incubator.

In this journey, it will motivate youths and other people living in the society to support and help each other conserving and protecting nature. The things we do in the environment come back to us. If we treat and love nature, we will definitely be living in abundance.

References

www.usaid.gov
palawan-news.com
palawandailynews.com/


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