MinDA moves to protect Mindanao’s river basins PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 June 2011 14:28

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is pushing for an integrated river basin management on the island in the face of frequent floods, threats of climate change and other environmental risks.

Aware of the danger of major rivers overflowing and inundating huge track of farmlands aside from communities in many towns and urban areas on the island, the MinDA along with key government agencies that manage Mindanao river basins, are pushing for the establishment of a roadmap in an integrated effort to protect and sustain the island’s fertile river basins and watersheds.

The roadmap will serve as bible of government agencies tasked to implement the island-wide programs and projects on river basin management.
Showing urgency of the efforts, MinDA chair Secretary Luwalhati Antonino said Mindanao’s water resources are at risk and will continue to threaten the island’s human and natural resources if remained un-acted upon.

“Our water resources have been at risk and therefore a collaborative effort among all stakeholders is needed to protect and conserve our headwaters,” Antonino said.

She said the roadmap will ensure a more strategic planning for the sustainable development of Mindanao river basins.
The island has eight major river basins, namely the Agus river basin, Cagayan de Oro river basin, Tagoloan river basin, Agusan river basin, Mindanao riverbasin (Cotabato), Tagum-Libuganon river basin, Davao river basin and Buayan-Malungan river basin.

The Mindanao River Basin (Cotabato) and Agusan River Basin in Caraga region are among the two largest river basins in the island region.
According to the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework, Mindanao is endowed with rich ecosystems and dominated by fertile river basins and watersheds but these have been threatened by heavy reliance on extractive industries such as logging, fisheries and mining.

Watershed degradation in Mindanao has been largely due to heavy siltation, water pollution, unsustainable farming practices, and destruction of fish breeding grounds.

“If not addressed, it will give rise to food security threats and hamper economic development,” the Mindanao 2020 said in its study.
Mindanao’s total forest cover has also been rapidly denuded from 70 percent in 1900s to 23 percent in 1988 and down to six percent as of last year.
It added that the island’s agri-based economy is also vulnerable to risks in rainfall change, El Niño and projected temperature increase.

The Mindanao 2020, therefore, highlights the need for Mindanao’s archipelagic economy to adopt an ecosystem-based approach to development planning which underscores the importance of looking at economic development and responsible stewardship of the environment as a way towards sustainable development, a MinDA statement said.

According to Joan Barrera, MinDA supervising economic development specialist, priority should be given to the protection and preservation of Mindanao’s water resources.

“Even as we push for industrial or agribusiness development, all of these will be put to waste without protecting and ensuring sustainability of our environment,” Barrera said.

She added that an integrated River Basin Development and Management roadmap for Mindanao anchored on the Mindanao 2020 is seen to pave the way for the conduct of studies as well as formulation of river basin programs and policies.

River basin stakeholders also push that a multi-sectoral, island-wide mechanism that will oversee the implementation of the plan be established.
Such mechanism will be tasked to provide technical assistance and ensure an integrated approach in river basin development and management in close coordination with LGUs, relevant government agencies, private sector groups, NGOs, academe, and other appropriate bodies.

It will also take charge of rationalizing and mobilizing public and private investments for river basin development and management in Mindanao.
MinDA believes that private sectors participation in protecting the island’s water resources is very vital for the success of the government’s efforts to prevent the loss of Mindanao’s rich inland water resources.