MinDA, DENR to strengthen Mindanao’s river basin organizations

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 November) – Mindanao’s eight river basin organizations will be strengthened in the next four years for their transition into a council with a mandate to craft policies, officials of the Mindanao Development Authority said Thursday.

Joan Barrera, chief of MinDA’s Policy Planning and Project Development Office said these organizations have done planning and organizing activities since their launching three years ago.

Barrera, addressing reporters on the second day of the two-day 1st Mindanao River Basin Organizations Conference in Davao City, said they will work with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in strengthening the organizations.

She said these are comprised of local government units, national line agencies, academe, civil society organizations, and religious groups that will implement programs that will address the threats to the river basins.

She added a technical working group has been formed for each river basin organization.

Yvette Valderia, department management officer of MinDA’s Policy Planning and Project Development Office, cited the need for collaboration to save the river basins in the island.

Mindanao has eight major river basins, namely, Agus River Basin, Cagayan de Oro River Basin, Tagoloan River Basin, Agusan River Basin, Mindanao River Basin, Tagum-Libuganon River Basin, Davao River Basin and Buayan-Malungan River Basin.

“Our event today kicks off our advocacy. We have provided them (river basin organizations) the capacity-building activities,” Valderia said.

She said the training will make the organizations self-sustaining at the end of the four-year strengthening phase from 2016 to 20120.

Each organization has its master plan that also involves the Department of Public Works and Highways for its flood control programs, she added.

Barrera said each RBO has lined up non-structural and structural approach to flood control.

She said among the non-structural approach is the use of biological means like the revegetation of denuded areas that will serve as a buffer so that the silt will not end up in the rivers.

The structural approach includes the construction of dikes and other man-made infrastructure to prevent flooding, she said.

Valderia said one way to prevent flooding caused by siltation is to encourage the farms upstream to adopt good practices.

“We have already talked to the big companies and they said they are open to such programs as a way of corporate social responsibility,” she said.

One of the companies cited for having done such practices was Unifrutti Philippines Inc., she said.

She said Unifruitti has a total of 1,100 hectares in Bukidnon, but only around 650 hectares are planted to pineapples. The rest is set aside for buffer zones and canals.

Valderia also said some of Mindanao’s river basins that are heavily silted may get government funding for de-siltation to prevent them from swelling during heavy rains. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)