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Publish on April 14, 2023

Transforming Marginalized Communities through Renewable Energy

Back in 1993 when Yamog Renewable Energy Development Group, Inc. pioneereda
participatory rural development approach anchored on community-based and nature-
centered micro-hydropower development, the situation in Mindanao’s rural areas was
desolate; thousands of households barely surviving below the poverty line did not have
access to electricity. Yamog(a non-government organization based in Davao City) was
organized at a time when the country was buffeted by a prolonged energy crisis
beginning in 1990 prompting the government to enact Republic Act No. 7468 or the
Electric Power Crisis Act of 1993.
The Yamog pioneers saw the writing on the wall during that critical period– almost daily
brownouts of up to four hours, the country’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel and its adverse
effects on the environment and lack of a coherent strategic plan to ensure energy
sufficiency. The country’s energy sector, as it was, was no longer sustainable. For the
marginalized households wallowing in energy poverty, it would take an awful lot of time before
electricity would reach them, if at all.
Against this backdrop, Yamog set out on a mission tobuild sustainable communities in off-
grid areas in Mindanao anchored on renewable energy- specifically community-scale
pico and micro-hydropower systems that produced electricityranging from 3 kilowatts to
40 kilowatts. In 2003, it diversified its operations by utilizing solar power for household
lighting. By 2016, with funding support coming from various international donors, Yamog
was able to establish 26 community-managed pico/micro-hydropower systems in
different off-grid communities in Mindanao.
The year 2017 was a landmark year for Yamog when it was chosen as one of the
grantees of the European Union (EU) – Access to Sustainable Energy Programme
(ASEP) in the Philippines. Out of more than 70 organizations nationwide that
participated in that year’s EU-ASEP Call for Proposal, only seven organizations –
including Yamog – were qualified and approved for funding.
The total approved cost of Yamog’s project entitled “Improving the Lives of People in
Off-grid Communities in Mindanao through Sustainable Energy (I-POSE)” amounted to
EUR 4,575,625.49(PhP272,730,157.33). According to Ma. Annabelle S. Jabla, Yamog
Deputy Project Manager for Finance and Administration, the European Union covered
80 percent of this cost. A third-party contribution amounting to EUR 420,000
(PhP25,200,000) from KZE-Germany was made possible through the help of Misereor,
the German Catholic Bishops' Organization for Development Cooperation. Local cash
counterparts totaling an equivalent amount of EUR 341,050.23 (PhP 20,463,013.80)
were also provided by the Provincial Local Government Unit of Davao del Norte, the
Municipal Local Government Units of Arakan, North Cotabato, Kapalong, Davao del
Norte,Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental, and Pantukan, Davao de Oro, and Yamog
Renewable Energy Development Group, Inc.
The implementation of the I-POSEProject was the most challenging that Yamog has

ever experienced in its more than two decades of community development work.
Reaching out to poverty-stricken households in geographically isolated villages located
in 27 barangays,7 municipalities and 5 provinces proved to be very grueling –
physically, emotionally and psychologically – especially for Yamog field personnel. It
did not help that field personnel would often encounter increasingly unpredictable and
punishing weather conditions on top of the challenges of having to hurdle dangerous
terrains and rivers. With the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic in early 2020, Yamog
workers thought that theywould never be able to finish the I-POSE Project.
Fortunately, by the end of project implementation on November 30, 2022, all project
objectives were accomplished. A total of 4,331 households (around 25,986 people) in
off-grid communities have been afforded access to renewable and sustainable energy
(using an energy mix of micro-hydropower and solar power). Five community-scale
hydropower systems (ranging from 5 – 30 kilowatts) have benefited 13 villages in the
municipalities of Don Marcelino (Davao Occidental), Kapalong (Davao del Norte),
Arakan (North Cotabato), and Picong (Lanao del Sur, within the Bangsamoro
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao-BARMM). These brought the total number of
community-based pico/micro-hydropower systems established by Yamog since 1994 to

A total of 103 villages in the municipalities of Kapalong and Talaingod (Davao del
Norte), Pantukan (Davao de Oro), Don Marcelino (Davao Occidental), Arakan (North
Cotabato), and Magpet (North Cotabato) are now energized by solar home lighting
systems. Overall, the I-POSE Project has benefited 116 off-grid villages in 27
Moreover, a rich base of community human capital has been cultivated resulting from
various capacity building activities undertaken. Sustained efforts in community capacity
building led to the conduct of 60 trainings on organizational development, gender
mainstreaming, leadership and conflict management, financial management, basic
electricity & household wiring, operation & maintenance, watershed protection &
conservation. It is worth noting that of the total 1,684 participants who completed the
various trainings conducted by Yamog, a total of 724 (or 43%) are women. More than
40% of community leaders holding positions in policy-making and management bodies
of community organizations organized by Yamog are women. The active participation of
women in various aspects of project implementation and management is an indication
that men in the communities have gradually accepted the role of women in community
development, especially the participation of women in decision-making.
A total of 55 Energy Users Associations (EUAs) have been organized which are now
utilizing, managing and sustaining their renewable energy systems (micro-hydropower
and solar power). This has metamorphosed into the creation of the Federation of
Renewable Energy Users Associations, the first grassroots-based renewable energy
congregation of its kind in Mindanao.

More than 60,000 tree seedlings were planted in the watershed areas of micro-
hydropower-driven communities. Watershed Protection and Management Plans
(WPMPs) have already been formulated by the Energy Users Associations (EUAs) in
thecommunities of: 1) Sitio Camansi, West Lamidan, Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental,
2) Sitio San Malbino, Lapuan, Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental, 3) Sitio Tinanan,
Ganatan, Arakan, North Cotabato, 4) Sitio Lower Tagasan, Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao
del Norte, and 5) Sitio Karibang, Ramitan, Picong, Lanao del Sur. These communities
have also established their central tree nurseries as their local counterpart.
A very important component of the I-POSE Project, the Renewable and Sustainable
Energy Technologies (ReSET) Center is already up and running.Thanks to the support
of the Department of Science and Technology, Region XI (DOSTXI) that graciously
allowed the ReSET Center to be established within itsSentro Mindanaw compound in
Mintal, Davao City. The financial support coming from the European Union-Access to
Sustainable Energy Programme (EU-ASEP) and Misereor-KZE Germany has enabled
Yamog to set up the basic equipment and tools necessary to support the operation and
maintenance tasks of its partner Energy Users Associations in the field. The ReSET
Center is not only a hub for technical support and services, but it is also gradually
fulfilling its role as a research and training facility for renewable energy advocates.
Yamog is now on its way to fabricating its own T15 cross flow turbine which would
significantly cut the cost of developing more community-scale micro-hydropower
systems in the coming years.
Overall, the I-POSE Project is not only about providing electricity to poor households in
off-grid areas in Mindanao. For Yamog, energy poverty is not a stand-alone
phenomenon; it has a direct relationship with other dimensions of life in off-grid, rural
communities. That is why Yamog never veers away from its participatory and
empowering approaches that seriously consider social relations, cultural practices, local
capacities, incomes and productivity, governance, natural life-support systems in a
holistic effort to make access to renewable energy more meaningful and, therefore,
sustainable. The provision of renewable energy becomes not an end in itself, but a
means to achieve more importantends. With this community development framework,
the I-POSE Project has improvedthe quality of life of poor households in 116 far-flung, off-grid
villages in Mindanao. All of these communities – with the exception of Sitio Karibang, Brgy.
Ramitan, Lanao del Sur – are inhabited by indigenous people. Thedevelopmentinterventions
made possible by the I-POSE Project have enabled them to have access to the
These communities now have sufficient supply of electricity to address basic household
needs like homelighting, energizing simple appliances like radios, flashlights,
cellphones, computers and other chargeable gadgets. A few who could afford it have
started buying refrigerators.Access to electricity has brought forth a conducive learning
environment for elementary schoolchildren.This situation had served the local folks in
good stead during the pandemic as news from outside became accessible through their
radios, cellphones or television sets that made them more resilient and prepared.

The sufficient energy supply provided by the micro-hydropower systems has created an
opening for addressing productiveend-uses that could bolster agricultural production,
food security and household incomes.Livelihood activities that can be supported by
these systems are cornshelling/milling,abaca stripping,feedmilling, coffee milling, food
processing, and the like. One of the most important outcomes of the I-POSE Project is
the purging of extensive kerosene use among households.This has resulted in the
generation of significant cash savings; the baseline data indicate that households used
to spend PhP 300-600 PhP per month on kerosene for household lighting.
It has been a long and arduous journey for Yamog. It would not have been possible for
the organization to sustain its work in Mindanao without the kindness of simple folksin
distant and forgotten villages, international and local development organizations,
enlightened local government units and government agencies who extended a helping
hand when the going got tough.The generous and timely assistance coming from the
European Union-Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (EU-ASEP) and KZE-
Misereor Germany not only brought to the fore the importance of alleviating the dismal
plight of households in off-grid areas, but it has also showed the correctness of putting
in place the basic infrastructure and local capacities in the field of renewable energy
development in light of the worsening problems of climate change and global warming.
At a time when Mindanao will most likely go through another energy crisis in the coming
years resulting from its heavy dependence on fossil fuels especially coal (which makes
up more than 60% of its energy mix), and increasing instability in the global geopolitical
arena, Yamog is all the more committed to continue its work to build resilient
communities by helping them explore the path towards a clean energy future. For
Yamog, access to renewable, sustainable energymatters; but what poor, marginalized
people can do together to transform their lives and regenerate their communities is the
power that really matters.

Yamog Renewable Energy Development Group, Inc.