Water hyacinths aggravating flood problem in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/11 June) — Roads and houses under water. Vast agricultural lands destroyed by floods and water hyacinth stuck under the bridge linking Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, and along the Rio Grande de Mindanao from the Liguasan Marsh.

These are just some of the scenes of the devastation wrought by the floods as seen from the air by members of the Presidential Task Force on Mindanao River Basin Project Development and Rehabilitation and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC).

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, chair of Task Force Water Basin, what aggravated the floods are the water hyacinths and silt in the waterways.

“The long range plan is how to stop the water hyacinths from going down to Cotabato. We are looking a technology just what like China did with its water hyacinth problem in the Yangtze river,” he said.

When water hyacinths accumulate, they clog the tributary streams of the Liguasan Marsh. Eventually, this often leads to the flooding of the low-lying villages because the water cannot directly flow to the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Maguindanao has been declared under a state of calamity after floods struck at least 11 of its 36 towns.

The RDRRMC-ARMM is expected to submit today its report on the ocular inspection.

Retired Brig. Gen. Loreto Rirao, executive director of the RDRRMC-ARMM, said, “we have confirmed lots of  information from the reports and saw from the air just how widespread and deep the flooding has been.

Reports indicate other parts of Maguindanao aside from the 11 towns earlier reported, are now under water, too, due to continuous rains.

In Cotabato City, floodwaters rose due to water hyacinths that clogged the waterways.

In Sultan Kudarat town, about a thousand residents are expected to participate in “Operation Delta Bridge,” to remove water hyacinths that have accumulated in the Rio Grande.

In China, Xinhuanet reported in February 2002 that a new drink with water hyacinth as raw material, has been selling well in Hubei Province, central China.

The report said the developer, a local company, has also developed a new technology for extracting nutrient from the aquatic plant, “to produce additives to foodstuffs, health care products, medicine and feed with the technology.

The report quoted Weng Lida, head of the Yangtze River water resources protection bureau as saying, “when people are striving to get water hyacinth to make profits, a series of ecological problems caused by the aquatic plant will be solved easily.”

A women’s group based in Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun or GSKP town in Maguindanao last year did something about the water hyacinths in their area. Instead of throwing them away, members of the Women’s Rural Improvement Club Consumers Cooperative, are collecting  them to use as raw materials for weaving bags, home decors, twines and sandals. (Ferdinand B. Cabrera/MindaNews)