Task force on Mindanao rivers formed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 January)—With the series of floods that hit parts of Mindanao since last December, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) created Thursday the Mindanao Rivers Task Force to conduct a rapid assessment of all critical rivers across the island.

Sec. LuwalhatiAntonino, MinDA chair, said in a press conference that the task force will become a major project under the Mindanao Nurturing Our Water (MindaNOW) program, which is “a set of integrated interventions designed to facilitate the effective management of Mindanao’s natural resources, adopting the ridge-to-reef approach to planning.”

The task force will be composed of volunteer experts from Mindanao and that it will be included in presenting MindaNOW to donor agencies for possible funding.

Aside from conducting rapid assessment, the task force will recommend an integrated action plan that will address the immediate rehabilitation of identified critical rivers.

Antonino said that several mountain ranges in Mindanao have become denuded, resulting in the destruction of watersheds and the overflowing of rivers, particularly citing the Masara and Kaban mountain ranges in Mawab, Agusan del Sur and Monkayo, Compostela Valley, respectively.

With MinDA as the overseer, the task force shall be composed of government agencies including the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, the Interior and Local Government, and Agriculture.

It will also include the National Economic and Development Authority, Environmental Management Bureau, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Irrigation Administration, and the provincial and city/municipal governments traversed by a critical river.

 The task force will also identify and prioritize projects for each river, and develop proposals for the top three priority projects for each river.

 Of the 18 river basins in the country, eight are found in Mindanao, three of them in the Davao Region.

The task force will implement the project by phase and by region. Phase One for Region 11 from February 1 to April 30, Phase Two for Regions 10 and Caraga from May 1 to July 30, and Phase Three for Regions 9, 12 and ARMM from Sep. 1 to Nov. 30.

In the same press conference, Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario said the work of the task force “will hopefully prevent huge flooding in Mindanao” in the future.

 Citing Tagum City and the municipalities of Carmen, BraulioDujali and Asuncion, he said, “We never experienced continuous rains. Five to six days (of rain) are unheard of before.” (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)