Kinatarcan: Some salient facts

It is located northwest of the island of Cebu. Home to some 9000 islanders, the idyllic atmosphere belies the realities of life here.

Dubbed “the forgotten island”, Kinatarcan has always been outside the radar of government institutions, hence the importance of the work of NGOs like SNAF.

According to the latest statistics, released in 2012, the island’s population stands at 9,208, making up 1679 households spread across three separate villages or barangay: Langub, Hagden and Kinatarcan proper.

Just 6.8 km long and 2.5 km wide, the island has 341 children, of whom 300 are between the ages of three and six who attended a day care centre in their village while their parents worked.

After the typhoon, all the three day care centres have now been destroyed and the children have nowhere to go.

The island’s sole elementary and high school were similarly affected and now, teaching is conducted in the open under the shade of tarpaulin.

One of the island’s major challenges is finding suitable youth employment opportunities. Many of its young men can only look forward to becoming a fisherman as their fathers and grandfathers before them.

With employment opportunities lacking, girls tend to marry at an early age.

On the upside, Kinatarcan has minimal crime and delinquency. But one fact remains: there are no medical facilities available on the island and when there is an emergency, the sick have to be ferried out to Cebu, which might be too late. The need to provide some basic health equipment for use in emergencies and training some of the islanders on how to use this is considered imperative.

Water on the island is another issue as it has always been in limited supply. There is only one deep well located on the island’s highest spot in the north but for the most part, villagers rely on rainwater which is collected in terracotta containers and is boiled before use. There is thus an urgent need to find a practical solution to install a water system to serve the whole island.

Another problem that needs to be addressed is that of sanitation. Few homes have proper sanitation as the island lacks a system of waste disposal.


Wish list for the rehabilitation of Kinatarcan

So, for SNAF, the approach to the rehabilitation of Kinatarcan would go beyond the attempt to bring back life on the island to pre-Typhoon Yolanda levels.  There would have to be a means to improve education and to help the islanders, especially its young, to develop new skills with which they can forge a new future.

To this end, a new educational and skills development centre – the Alternative Learning System Centre – tops SNAF’s wish list.

Ideally, the centre will be designed to serve as a model climate resilient facility with solar power, rainwater catchment, natural lighting and ventilation and a communal garden. It should have a classroom capacity for 40 students with dedicated rooms for vocational and technical training plus facilities for child care. Above all, it has to be a building that can withstand 250 km/h winds.

SNAF hopes to embark on the construction of the ALS centre – dubbed Phase One – as soon as possible, after which it hopes to look into the second phase of providing alternative livelihoods for the Kinatarcan islanders such as the introduction of new fish farming methods.

The budget requirement for Phase One is 3.350,000 pesos or S$111,667 (US$87,988).

It is envisaged that the Cebu Chamber of Commerce would be one of SNAF’s collaborators for this educational effort.

The key concept of TIP is the “alternative delivery” system. So the question remains: How and in what form would this system take?


Template for other rehabilitation programmes

SNAF is looking not only at restoring the lives of Kinatarcan’s population; it also hopes that the rehabilitation of the island can serve as a template for the rehabilitation of island communities affected by similar calamities.

And since the government was found lacking in helping in the rehabilitation of Kinatarcan, currently the model is private-sector driven – and to some extent, foreign-driven.