Local Convergence


Poverty in Bukidnon has fallen dramatically in recent years: from the 4th poorest in 2015, it fell to the19th in 2018 after the poverty incidence was halved. Still, more than 70,000 Filipino families remain poor, most of whom thrive in the agriculture sector. Unfortunately, more than half of low-income households suffered a decrease in their income under the pandemic. 

ZEP has been present in the province through its individual members, notably the Del Monte Foundation Inc. (DMFI) which has implemented the ZEP way in Sumilao town. Aiming to deepen the work in the province, DMFI convened national and local NGOs to bring ZEP into other municipalities.  


  • 73,442 poor families (2018)
  • Poverty incidence slashed in half to 22.3% in 3 years
  • High vulnerability: 52% of poor lost incomes during COVID19
Local Convergence
  • Del Monte Foundation convened 16 organizatons to form the Bukidnon Convergence
  • “Adopt-a-town” strategy to accelerate spread of ZEP 
  • DMFI, other local NGOs part of local development councils in key Bukidnon LGUs
With 73,422 poor families, Bukidnon is now in 19th place in the Philippines’ Poorest Provinces ranking, a leap of progress from its previous rank of 4th place in 2015. Among the provinces in Northern Mindanao, Bukidnon has exhibited the largest decrease in poverty incidence among families from 2015 to 2018 (47.61% to 22.3%), which is a victorious breakthrough from its continuous increase in poverty incidence for almost a decade (from 2006 to 2015; 35.42% to 47.61%). Having been dubbed as the “The Food Basket of Mindanao”, 141,678 of its poor individuals earn their living in the Agricultural, Forestry, and Fishery sector while 38,338 are in Mining and Quarrying. Additionally, 21.4% of families in Bukidnon do not have proper water piping and well protection which limits their access to safe potable water.

Visualization of Available Poverty Data

According to the ZEP-UNDP COVID Pulse PH Survey, 52% of the Covid Pulse PH respondents in Bukidnon expressed in Q1 2021 that their income worsened compared to the previous year, and a noticeable 18% claimed to have improved income. Meanwhile, 36% have lost their jobs or were forced to close down their businesses. Despite the decline in income, few respondents have expressed a certain level of recovery from the pandemic, and reasons for improvement were attributed to receiving support from the government, going back to their previous jobs, and having sideline work/businesses. What remains to be the main obstacle to economic recovery is the irregularity of income due to prevailing COVID-19 restrictions.

COVID Pulse PH Survey Findings

ZEP has been in Bukidnon since 2017 through Del Monte Foundation, Inc.’s (DMFI) efforts to provide sustainable livelihood to the indigenous farmers of Sumilao and it was in 2021 when DMFI took on the role to be the lead convenor of the Bukidnon Convergence. In June 2021, DMFI, AF, and 15 participating organizations had their first Bukidnon Convergence meeting, wherein they laid the groundwork for the newly established convergence as well as designed the “adopt-a-town” project which will prompt organizations to focus on engaging LGUs and stakeholders in their chosen areas. The convergence believes that evidence-based decision-making and collaborative planning are essential in building long-lasting support from different stakeholders and encouraging innovative development projects.

Success Stories from the Field

It is hard to imagine how a province known as the food basket in the Northern Mindanao region was considered one of the poorest in 2015. Bukidnon, with its majestic mountains spanning the Kitanglad Mountain Range and large swaths of land teeming with native pineapples and bananas, is undoubtedly rich in natural resources. But despite this seeming abundance, poverty incidence in Bukidnon was at its highest at 54.1 percent not more than six years ago.

Then came a dramatic shift in 2018 when the poverty rate in Bukidnon fell to 32.1 percent. The government attributed the decline to the increase in government spending and investments in infrastructure and social protection programs for the poor. While that may have been the case, there may be other factors at play, invisible hands working on the ground to help push for pro-poor programs and services for the communities who need them most.
Read the full article here

Map of Local Convergence Members

ZEP Bukidnon Convergence Members

Del Monte Foundation, Inc. (DMFI)
Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil)
Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC)
Forest Foundation Philippines
Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI)
Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE)
KAANIB Foundation, Inc.
Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF)
Samdhana Institute Philippines
Kasilak Development Foundation, Inc.
Mahintana Foundation, Inc.
Xavier Science Foundation, Inc.


ZEP Bukidnon in the New Normal

To collaborate with the ZEP Bukidnon Convergence, reach out to Love Escobido of DMFI at laescobido@gmail.com