MANILA, Philippines – Mindanao leaders want to hasten efforts to integrate the region’s watershed and river basin programs, amid increasing concerns on disasters linked to changing climate patterns.
During a recent meeting in Iligan City of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) Board, consisting of all Regional Development Council (RDC) chairs, LGU officials and sectoral groups in Mindanao, pushed for the implementation of the Mindanao Nurturing Our Waters (MindaNOW) as one of its flagship programs.
The MindaNOW program adopts the “ridge-to-reef” approach in integrating interventions for the development, protection and conservation of the watersheds and river basins in Mindanao, MinDa chair Luwalhati Antonino said in a press statement.
Antonino said that massive deforestation and “unsustainable agricultural” methods in Mindanao have contributed to major disasters in the region, including the December 2011 flooding in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, as well as flooding in North Cotabato’s Allah Valley, which was caused by massive riverbank siltation and migration along the Pulangi River.
She added that forest denudation along the Pantaron Range in Bukidnon was worsened by the water flow to the Agusan and Compostela Valley provinces, causing soil erosions and heavy floods during the rainy season.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mindanao’s forest cover has been reduced to at least 20% since 2011. Antonino said that the region must catch up with the national greening program, which targets to plant 1.5-billion trees covering about 1.5-million acres nationwide.
Antonino pointed out that the remaining forest reserves especially in the watershed buffer zones are no longer capable of holding rainwaters during storms and heavy rains.
At least 11 landslide and 43 flooding incidents in 4 regions of Mindanao were recorded during the first 7 months of 2011, affecting 172,798 families in 283 villages, reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) showed.
Typhoon Sendong, which struck Northern Mindanao in Dec. 16, 2011, killed more than 1,000 people and damaged P1.45-billion worth of infrastructure and agricultural products.
Antonio said that the MindaNOW program is part of the present administration’s campaign for responsible use of the country’s natural resources.
“Economic and ecological integration as well as inclusive wealth creation must be anchored on planning Mindanao’s sustainable development based on its rich ecosystems,” Antonino said.
Reeling from the Typhoon Sendong tragedy, Iligan City officials welcome the MindaNOW program, citing it as one of the actions to take against the problem of illegal logging.
Mayor Lawrence Cruz said that the December flooding were aggravated by hundreds of ‘hot logs’ that came with it.
Cruz said they are just waiting for the results of the investigation which President Benigno Aquino III directed following the devastation of Typhoon Sendong.
“With careful planning and strategic interventions such us infrastructure, only then can we prevent this kind of disaster”, said Cruz. – Rappler.com