In attaining sustainable urban development, taking local initiatives is imperative. The urgency is on the highest level now as cities are currently faced with global challenge that threatens the lives of local people. In the Philippines, several national-level measures have been implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these are the prohibition of mass gatherings and suspension of mass public transportation. Only a limited number of private establishments that provide and manufacture food and medicine, banks, power, energy, water, and telecommunications supplies and facilities remain open. Responding to local needs and ensuring local viability, local governments in the country have come up with ideas to bring basic goods closer to the people.
IRIGA: “Vegetable on Wheels”
Iriga City launched its Vegetable on Wheels programme with the objective to support both the households and the farmers. The rolling store is meant to visit all 36 villages or barangays, the smallest local government unit in the Philippines. The local government bought the vegetables directly from local farmers and sold them to barangays at lower prices. In addition to vegetables, rice, eggs, dried fish, and fruits were also sold.
MAKATI: “Makati Mart”
The Makati Mart programme began its operations in Makati City on 30 March 2020. With this initiative that provides another source of basic goods, people will not crowd the supermarkets or have to leave their homes. People are encouraged to bring their own eco bags and observe social distancing.
BAGUIO: “Rolling Market Caravan”
Baguio City announced a pilot run of its Rolling Market Caravan which started on 03 April 2020. Four covered courts in the city were identified as venues for the inaugural run and the caravan is expected to later serve all 20 districts. The project is spearheaded by the city government in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and local retailers.
Catbalogan City’s Merka-GOW or Goods-on-Wheels started selling fish products, vegetables, chicken and cold cuts, fruits, and other products. The initiative is managed by the Catbalogan City Economic Enterprise and Public Utility Office in partnership with several market vendors. The city government also initiated the Catbalogan E-Market where residents may order groceries, fruits and vegetables, poultry products, and medicine. Orders can be made by sending a message to the Catbalogan E-Market Facebook page or to the identified mobile numbers and goods are delivered straight to their homes.
Cities are delivering creative solutions to the people in this time of public health crisis. In addition to their local versions of the rolling store, other initiatives also emerged. Baguio City started distributing vegetable seeds through the barangays as a long-term solution under the Survival Garden project. It is meant to strengthen container gardening, and rooftop and vertical gardening with short-season crops that can be harvested in two months. Makati City introduced the Otso Otso Campaign to encourage cleaning habit in the household twice a day – at 8:00am and 8:00pm. The battle against COVID-19 continues but it can be overcome when cities and its people work together.