South Cot, SK see more assistance for Allah Valley rehab

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, chair of the Allay Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLDA), said the award proves that the program has practically developed into a vital institution that must be sustained to ensure the proper management and protection of the Allah River system and its environs. 

AVLADA, a local government-led multi-sectoral alliance pursuing the Allah Valley area's landscape planning and management, is among the 10 recipients of the 2008 Galing Pook Awards for innovation and excellence in local governance.

Galing Pook Foundation, a non-government organization that leads the search and recognition of outstanding achievements of local governments, selected the 10 winners out of the 19 finalists that bested 119 other local government units throughout the country that submitted entries to the search last year.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to grace the Galing Pook awarding rites in Malacañang on Thursday (Feb. 12).

In winning the award, Fuentes said they expect to get the attention of foreign and national agencies that extend technical and financial support to programs being pursued by AVLADA. 

"Despite our limited resources, we managed to slowly address the environmental problems affecting our own areas. But we still have a lot of work to do and in order to gain substantial impact, we will need more resources, technically and financially," she said.

The governor specifically stressed the need to immediately address the worsening flooding of the Allah River system, which left almost half of an entire municipality in Sultan Kudarat province underwater since June last year. 

During the last decade, hundreds of millions worth of agricultural crops and infrastructure had been destroyed by the flashfloods that swept the Allah River system and its tributaries in the two provinces.

Fuentes said that through AVLADA, which was organized in 2003 by the local governments of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and nine municipalities traversed by the Allah River system, various environmental conservation, rehabilitation and protection programs as well as socio-economic initiatives were launched in the area.

The governor said that in partnership with the stakeholders from Sultan Kudarat headed by Governor Suharto Mangudadatu, the program was able to establish partnerships with key stakeholders and communities "through sustained AVLDA operation and the development of environmental policy, planning and program models."

She said the program was able to design project implementation framework at landscape and community levels.

Among the programs being sustained by AVLADA, through the initiative of its project management office, are the rehabilitation of the Allah River systems' riparian areas, massive bamboo planting along riverbanks and the management of the area's watershed areas. 

"Overall, the program addresses urgent concerns involving various local government units, where not only livelihood but lives are at stake and need inter-government and multi-sector comprehensive and concerted actions," Fuentes said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)