This Miriam College institute also received PEF funding

Published by rudy Date posted on April 3, 2011

ANOTHER recipient of the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) money is the Miriam College Environment Studies Institute. Using PEF funding, Miriam was able to do research, including a studies on the Laiban dam project, technology options for tricycle drivers and on sikad (padyak) operators.

Just after the EDSA revolution, Miriam’s environment institute was organized to support the environment protection advocacy of the new Cory Aquino administration.

This Miriam College institute is an NGO of this elite school.

Aside from Code NGO’s PEF, this institute’s major donors are other foundations, the US-based McArthur Foundation, South supermarket and others.

According to Donna Paz Reyes, the institute’s executive director, the Laiban dam study started few years ago. The aim is to know the possible impacts of the controversial project to the environment and the local community. This was actually the first project funded by PEF. Reyes said the amount was minimal.

The second Miriam project after the Laiban dam study was the one to give tricycle drivers an option after the government passed a law phasing out two-stroke motorcycles in the country.

The project intended to look for a technology that could control the pollution of two-stroke motorcycles without conversion. The drivers and operators opposed the government’s move to phase out their tricycles due to high cost.

Experts from Miriam, with the help of different project partners introduced different kinds of options for drivers. These options include the use of alternative fuel (ethanol), Bio 2T oil or coconut-based 2T oil, Air Bleed Technology (Cyclos) and Retrofit technology (Direct injection).

Cyclos, a gadget developed in Colorado State University in the US, puts more air to the engine so that there’s more efficient engine combustion. American experts tried to test and apply the technology in the Philippines.

Retrofitting changes the design of the two stroke engine, a direct injection method aimed at improving the combustion so that no fuel is wasted.

The entire project received P1.8-million from PEF. Miriam College organized it with three different sets of participants. All in all, 10 motorcycle drivers participated in the study. According to project officer Maria Teresa Oliva, one set was made up of Yamaha motorcycles, another one is Kawasaki and the other is Suzuki. The project was conducted in Quezon City from 2007 to 2009.

“For one set we would have these three motorcycles an then 2T oil, the other set we used Cyclos, and then at the time the direct injection is just prototypes so only one motorcycles was used and then the model will only fitted to a Kawasaki motorcycle,” she explained.

Reyes said the basic thrust of the study is to research on the best technology that drivers can use and then encourage them to lessen their emissions through their own actions of preventive maintenance.

They have to fix their tricycles so that in the end it will lessen the pollution in the atmosphere and at the same time prevent them from having lung disease brought about by fume inhalation.

“So it’s really a capability building thing to lessen the emission of the pollutions from these tricycles and help capacitate them. That is their responsibility that’s their options so that’s the objective of the fund,” Reyes said.

The drivers were taught of preventive maintenance for their tricycles because according to Oliva they found that with good maintenance and good 2T oil use emission dropped by almost 30 percent.

Miriam College also prepared a video with the help of technicians from major motorcycle manufacturing companies. It was an educational tool teaching drivers how to properly clean and preserve their engines to reduce emission.

“The message of the video is that if you set aside P20 a day you will have enough money for the preventive maintenance,” she said.

The direct injection was very effective with hydrocarbon emission dropping tremendously. However, when the project was supposed to go large scale, Oliva said the local supplier made changes in some components so the implementation didn’t push through. The supplier wanted to change some parts of the gadget to make it cheaper but it led to some malfunction.

The project cost P1.8 million because all the participants were given free gasoline and oil for the entirely of the project implementation. They also received free maintenance from Miriam’s partners—the SKY group—Suzuki-Kawasaki-Yamaha. The drivers’ contribution is having their motorcycles used in the project.

Powering the sikad

Another Miriam’s project supported by PEF was what Oliva called “powering the sikad” which is an offshoot of the tricycle study. The project is currently being implemented and will be completed this summer.

The project is intended for the people of Maranding in Lanao del Norte. Oliva said they came up with the project after seeing the situation in Lanao where people have difficulty using the sikad as a means of transportation. Miriam College partnered with Don Bosco Technical College to carry out the project.

“Their sikads are really old, they started with parts, so one of the women’s coop organized the sikad drivers together with Don Bosco the project is to redesign the bicycle with the side car to make it easier for the driver to maneuver it and at the same time because they carry heavy load during market time almost 300 kilos, fish rice,” Oliva said.

They conducted a study of the bicycles being used and also organized focus discussions asking people about their requirements. After the interviews, Don Bosco made a computer aided design and came up with a prototype bicycle and side car.

While the sikad project is intended for Mindanao Miriam College is also looking at the future applicability of the padyak models in Metro Manila and other areas. They want to make riding a sikad comfortable for the passengers and the driver.

PEF released P600,000 for the project for the constructing of a prototype bicycles and training of drivers who will man the sikad. Miriam also plans to train the fabricators to teach them how to make the improved sikad model hoping that others will replicate it in the future. A unit cost around P30,000 but Oliva said they believe they could cut the cost if theses are mass produced. They want to bring it down to around P20,000 to P15,000 a unit.

To make it more affordable, Oliva said they are looking at coordinating with cooperatives where people can avail loans to operate sikads.

Strict monitoring

Reyes said they didn’t see any irregularity in the way PEF deals with NGOs and the release of its money. She said PEF monitors the projects through a strict reporting system and financial monitoring system where the recipients are mandated to submit performance reports.

“There are reporting schedules until the end of the project. They audit the money how much is spent we have accountants, they have accountants so that how it goes. There are certain guidelines, financial guidelines,” Oliva said.

PEF is really a respected funder according to Reyes. PEF people are upfront that’s why borrowers follow the rules. And to strictly monitor the projects, PEF designates an auditor for all of the projects and in case a borrower goes beyond the schedule they have to inform PEF about it.

“We write so if there’s excess money we have to inform them how we will use the money. We have an auditor, books are open for them anytime,” Reyes said.

For instance Miriam College had excess money for one of its projects and it asked PEF if it can use the money to buy an air quality monitoring instrument. Now the school has an P130,000-worth instrument used by the students which came from the excess fund. –Angelo S. Samonte, Manila Standard Today

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