Saving our watersheds-A A +A
When ‘Ish’ Meets ‘Weh’
Friday, March 8, 2013
JUST how important is it for us to protect our watersheds? It is most important.
And what role does the community play in saving our watersheds? A very crucial one.
The European Union, in partnership with the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc., embarked on a mission to save Benguet’s watersheds. A gargantuan task but not at all impossible task.
This was prompted by the noted deterioration of watersheds due to rapid conversion of forests to other uses, uncontrolled timber harvesting, forest fires and kaingin; lack of local government capability (both technical and financial) for watershed protection; limited awareness on the importance of forest protection and biodiversity conservation; and unclear roles of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the LGUs, the communities and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in forest management and protection programs.
The JVOFI project calls for the more active participation of the local government and even more so the active participation of the barangays to manage and protect their communal forests and watersheds.
While the DENR is mandated to protect and manage forest reserves in our country, the devolution of this function to residents ensure for a more efficient management and protection of our forests.
This is especially true in cases of forest fires, kaingin and even squatting.
Both JVOFI president Dr. Reynaldo Bautista and Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan could not emphasize enough the importance of saving our watersheds to ensure water supply during the inauguration of Barangay Banangan, Sablan’s newly rehabilitated water system.
Bautista went on to recount how a friend bought several hectares of land years ago but the land was without a water resource. His friend, according to Bautista, planted a certain number of trees for how many years. “Now he has water. Where there are trees there is water,” Bautista said.
Fongwan, meanwhile, said the provincial government is bent on protecting identified communal forests stressing, the full force of the law will be implemented especially on those wanting to encroach into these areas.
The governor went as far as expressing his desire to put up a water fountain in all the 400 schools in Benguet to address health issues among children.
“Dialysis patients are getting younger and younger. I don’t know but maybe it is their propensity to keep drinking energy drinks. However, I don’t blame them. If you don’t have clean and potable water in schools, the children will of course look for something else to quench their thirst,” Fongwan said.
The water system inaugurated in Banangan is a level 2 water system.
The watersystem cost P768,588.06 with 257 households and 267 students as target beneficiaries. The pipes laid span two kilometers. The community’s water federation led by Allan Mainim is also registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its members were even trained on basic and advanced leadership and also basic bookkeeping.
There are another five municipalities in Benguet set to benefit from the EU JVOFI project.
Bautista related a similar project was supposed to be undertaken in Greenwater Village here in the city. But red tape, bureaucracy made it difficult to enter the community. The JVOFI, worried that the P5-million grant was going to be reverted to the EU, got in touch with Fongwan.
Fongwan, who was on the last year of his last term as mayor of La Trinidad, promised JVOFI that he will complete all requirements in ten working days.
He did and now his province is benefiting greatly from these projects.
Baguio, on the other hand, has not gone as far as saying that we badly need a rainwater harvesting facility. In fact, several of our officials have enjoyed going abroad to attend water summits and the like. But as usual, all talk, no action, these people.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 08, 2013.