Program yields gains, new prospects for PH development PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 August 2014 11:39

The 2005-2014 Environment and Rural Development (EnRD) Program ended on a positive note this week with gains for the countryside and prospects for further Philippine-German development cooperation.

Such gains cover progress made in Philippine policy dialogue and strategic steering, natural resources governance, food security enhancement as well as sustainable management of coastal resources, forests, disaster risks and solid waste.

EnRD also helped boost rehabilitation of areas reeling from typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name ‘Haiyan’).

“Experiences and recommendations of the EnRD program will hopefully be used to clarify and harmonize a number of conflicting relevant laws and policies affecting natural resources,” said Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German developmentorganization that partnered with the Philippine government in implementing the program in selected areas.

GIZ also hopes gains from EnRD will help address conflicts in implementing relevant Philippine laws.

According to Robert Kressirer, GIZ Regional Director for the Philippines and the Pacific, there are already “good indications” that the German government will further fund sustainable Philippine development initiatives like those on food security and land use.

“Climate change adaptation and mitigation remain high on Germany’s agenda for the Philippines,” he also said Tuesday (Aug. 12) when GIZ spearheaded in Metro Manila a late afternoon program that officially concluded the nine-year EnRD.

EnRD Program Dir. Dr. Walter Salzer noted that despite the undertaking’s conclusion, several challenges remain.

Among such challenges are non-passage of the proposed National Land Use Act, vulnerabilities of coastal communities as well as missing tenure rights, he said.

He hopes output from EnRD will help government address the challenges.

The Philippine and German governments jointly implemented EnRD to help improve livelihood in the countryside through better management of land and water resources.

Through EnRD, both sides worked to strengthen capacity of agencies, LGUs and people’s organizations for planning and implementing natural resources management and sustainable rural development interventions.

The German Embassy in Manila’s Deputy Head of Mission Michael Hasper noted EnRD’s conclusion marks a milestone in Philippine-German development cooperation.

He noted EnRD is among GIZ’ largest undertakings in the Philippines with German funding for the program raised from eight million euros to 23 million euros.

GIZ’s Philippine EnRD partners are the agriculture, agrarian reform, environment and interior departments.

The four departments comprise government’s National Convergence Initiative (NCI).

Government implemented NCI to promote sustainable rural development by maximizing complementation of efforts and resources between and among such departments and LGUs.

EnRD contributed towards improving agricultural and fisheries productivity and is “an example of how partnerships can equip Filipinos for disaster response and conservation of natural resources,” agriculture chief Proceso Alcala said at the event.

He also said EnRD helped increase over 300,000 people’s awareness about disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).

Agrarian undersecretary Anthony Parungao said EnRD enhanced government’s planning for Philippine agrarian reform communities amidst looming climate change.

“The Philippines is extremely vulnerable to climate change and EnRD helped us integrate DRRM into agrarian reform communities’ plans,” he said.

Environment chief Ramon Paje sees output of EnRD as “an achievement for Philippine efforts on sustainable environment and rural development.”

He considers such output as among keys in attaining government’s national goals and commitments.

The interior department’s Bureau of Local Government Dir. Analiza Banagua believes EnRD’s output can improve the local planning process so rural areas can eventually develop into into sustainable communities.

“We expect more development partnerships in the future,” she also said.

The Philippine and German governments conceived EnRD in 2005 as population explosion, uncontrolled access to natural resources, natural disasters and other factors fueled environmental degradation nationwide over the years.

Climate change aggravated such degradation, both sides also said earlier.

“The destruction of forests and coral reefs, loss of biodiversity and degradation of crucial watersheds greatly affects rural communities,” both sides added. “A large portion of the rural population depends on natural resources for their livelihood. Half of them continue to live below the poverty line whereas poverty is notably problematic in the uplands.”