Task force formed to assess Mindanao critical rivers-A A +A
Thursday, January 24, 2013
DAVAO CITY - In a bid to address flooding, the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), in partnership with concerned government agencies, has created a task force that will assess the actual condition of major river systems on the island.
Several parts of Mindanao, including this city, were recently hit by floods triggered by the swelling of river systems following intermittent heavy rains, displacing thousands of families.
As of Thursday noon, the flooding has affected 97,908 families or 466,850 people in nine provinces in the Davao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga regions. Some 106,794 individuals are inside evacuation centers, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
With this, the Mindanao Riverways Reconstruction Task Force is expected to provide science-based assessment of critical rivers, including Davao River.
It will also serve as initial step to rehabilitate local government units (LGUs) hit by flood during the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo and the recent weather disturbance.
Joan Barrera, Minda's project development chief, told Sun.Star Thursday that the task force also aims to identify critical rivers across Mindanao that have to be restored, conduct rapid assessment on those identified rivers, and recommend integrated action plan that will address immediate rehabilitation of identified critical rivers.
"The role of this task force is very crucial since it will issue recommendations that will trigger National Government's action," Barrera said.
She also said that recommendations and the data that will be gathered by the assessing team in identified rivers will be very important for LGUs in their policy-making measures.
Barrera said the program was conceived after the region experienced the destruction that Typhoon Pablo had brought in some parts of Mindanao, particularly in Davao Region.
The task force is a short-term engagement that will be composed of various key agencies of the government, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Economic and Development Authority, and Department of Interior and Local Government, among others.
The project, which will start next month and will run until November this year, will be composed of three phases, with each phase covering specific regions across Mindanao.
For the first phase, which will start on February 1, the team will assess 11 rivers in Davao Region, including five pre-identified rivers in Compostela Valley, and three rivers each in Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte.
Barrera said Davao River, which swelled recently and affected thousands of families will be covered during the assessment's second phase in July.
The program is under Minda's Mindanao Nurturing Our Water Program (MindaNow), which is also a program in coordination with other agencies of the government.
Barrera refused, however, to elaborate the budget for the project.
Speaking to reporters following the first planning session for the Mindanao Development Plan for 2013 at Minda office on Thursday, Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo Del Rosario, chair of the Confederation of all Local Chief Executives in Mindanao (Confed), said the task force will check on all river systems and come up with ways to rehabilitate these tributaries by reducing siltation and eventually decreasing huge flooding.
He said the task force is more of a long-term approach to solve the flood.
He said as of Thursday afternoon, half of Davao del Norte is still under floodwaters, particularly the Tagum City, and the towns of Carmen, Braulio Dujali and Asuncion.
"It is the first time the area experiences such a large volume of water due to the continuing rainfall in the last six days," Del Rosario said.
Secretary Lualhati Antonino, Minda chair, also said Thursday that two mountain ranges in Davao Region -- Masara and Kaban -- need reforestation due to denudation.
She cited the need to hasten the work of MindaNOW, which aims to look after all the river systems in the island.
"We have presented this program to donor organizations for possible funding and we have to include the river systems of Davao Region in this plan," Antonino said. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 25, 2013.