The pandemic required a major pivot in how WSP and other SURGE program managers worked with their partners to support local economies. When many women micro-entrepreneurs were shuttered during lockdown phases, SURGE assisted with transitioning their retail sales to online which helped them generate income to stay afloat.
In General Santos, the southernmost of the eight cities, work done before the pandemic to improve cargo logistics provided an important boost to the region’s tuna industry after lockdowns were enacted.
“The city government had asked us to help increase the flights for shipping tuna and other high-value and highly perishable seafood products such as shrimp,” Enriquez said. “We organized meetings with airlines. One of them, Cebu Pacific, the second-largest carrier in the Philippines, agreed to initiate all-cargo flights from Manila to General Santos starting in 2019.”
“When we had our COVID outbreak in early 2020, most flights out of General Santos were suspended. But Cebu Pacific’s cargo flights continued operating. That was a lifeline for most of the agrofishery producers in General Santos.”
This five-year, $47 million economic development project is set for completion in December, but Hoehner anticipates that the firm’s work within the Philippines to improve economic opportunities will continue beyond the conclusion of this contract.
“WSP has a long track record of working in the Philippines, strengthening value chains and fostering economic growth in the country’s poorer regions,” Hoehner said. “It has been a privilege to work with a very talented staff; to see our team work on so many fronts and to creatively respond to various crises that have confronted them in implementation.”
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