Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu

Found in the municipality of Santa Fe is one of the finest white sand beaches and popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. It is part of Bantayan Island, a small island on the northwestern tip of the province of Cebu, together with the municipalities of Madridejos, and Bantayan. A 4th class municipality with their main socio-economic activities on agriculture, fisheries and tourism, the municipality has then realized the impacts of climate change, particularly in tourism, and how it has connected to other sectors.

According to the Municipal Planning and Development Officer (MPDO), the influx of tourists was increasing by 100% per year, maybe more: from 60,000 tourists recorded in 2016 to 300,000 in 2018. Water access and management is the main concern of the municipality as it affects the tourism, social, and health sector. Although it is an important resource for their tourism industry, the main source is coming from the municipality of Bantayan. Hence, Santa Fe has been advocating for an inter-municipality collaboration on water resource management in the whole island.

“If the water source is there (Bantayan), we can serve the tourists, and at the same time, put in money in the economy of Bantayan… when there are tourists in Santa Fe, (the municipalities of) Madredejos and Bantayan will also benefit because they have the goods that aren’t here.” –Jeffrey F. Zamora, MPDO

Santa Fe is relatively low-lying and has micro catchments formed in boundaries of hill tops and surrounding elevated areas. Natural water catchment areas were being utilized for residential and agricultural lands causing risk of contamination to groundwater and surface water. Based on a study conducted by Cordaid in the municipality, these resources need to be protected especially that human-induced impacts worsen the natural climate impacts observed in the area, including saltwater intrusion due to sea level rise. Residential and commercial structures along the shorelines are also affected by sea level rise, storm surge and typhoons. The occurrence of slow onset events was further validated through the local monitoring analysis conducted by the Visayas State University.

The need for a collaboration to conserve their shared resources was even more evident when Santa Fe started crafting its Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) in 2014, and was finalized in 2018 through the several workshops for the Climate Change Adaptation Framework (CCAF) and community climate risk assessments.  Public awareness on the impacts of climate change were also provided in the municipality, as well as several trainings provided by various agencies and technical assistance from Cordaid through its integrated risk management (IRM) program. The private sector was seen as the municipality’s key partner in relation to the tourism industry, and was an important element in their LCCAP. They also recognized that resort owners are owned by the locals, who were able to provide valuable suggestions that were not included in the plans and programs.

“People really need to be involved, not just one person doing it. It should be participatory…CordAid, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (PDRRMO), Habitat, LCCAP core team, and the people’s organizations were very involved–fisher folks, farmers, women’s organization (Kalipi), and representatives from different stakeholders, SAFETY and private individuals.”—Lea C. Escarlan, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer

Santa Fe then initiated the Bantayan Island Group (BIG) multi-stakeholder cooperation platform among the three municipalities and its partner stakeholders. Through the BIG, they were able to submit a proposal to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in collaboration with the municipalities of Guiuan, Eastern Samar and Coron, Palawan focusing on water to cope with climate induced risks. Moving ahead, the pandemic had halted the implementation of their climate adaptation initiatives for the municipality and for BIG, but despite this they are very determined to restart their climate action programs in the next few years.


Community and Government Engagements in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island

(Photos by Isabella Mendoza/Ed Mangaoang)