P39B from Chinese ODA set for anti-flooding projects in Maguindanao, North Cotabato

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 March) – Some P39 billion will be set aside for flood mitigating projects from 2018 to 2025 in areas of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces that are suffering from perennial flooding caused by the swelling of Ambal and Simuay Rivers and Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Chidren bathe in a flooded village in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao. MindaNews photo by Ferdinandh B. Cabrera

Gerardo Reynaldo, head of Mindanao Development Authority’s (MinDA) area management office in South Central Mindanao, said during “Wednesdays’ at Habi at Kape” that the funding for the projects came from China’s official development assistance.

He said the projects will benefit towns in the two provinces that are flood-prone and most vulnerable to the effects of typhoons.

“What we should do is not to completely eradicate the problem but at least minimize it and hope to predict the level of the floods in that area. When it floods, livestock and crops are affected. When it flooded June last year… the damage to the crops and livestock were extensive,” he said.

Citing a study by University of the Philippines Los Baños, Reynaldo said climate change will bring “more rains and more droughts that will exacerbate not only flooding but also the lives of the people in the area.”

Consultations with the barangay and municipal officials will start this year while the detailed engineering design will be released next year as they are drafting the project’s terms of reference, he said.

“The immediate purpose there is to construct embankments, dikes, flood control pumps and conduct a series of studies to also look at how the tributaries contribute to the floods. Hopefully, in seven years’ time, we can see or feel the difference, in that flood plains should no longer be flood plains,” he said.

Eight of the 18 river basins in the country are in Mindanao, 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.

MinDA is the secretariat of the Mindanao River Basin Management Council, formed to address issues and concerns confronting the basins such as flooding, siltation and sedimentation, watershed denudation, riverbank erosion and water pollution from domestic and agricultural sources.

Its goal is to ensure a “focused, comprehensive and integrated development and management of the Mindanao River Basin that would prevent, mitigate and protect its inhabitants and stakeholders from any calamities and disaster risks, and facilitate the attainment of sustainable development.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)