BEHAVIOR change of stakeholders play a vital role in the upkeep of the Balili River system.

This was underscored in a two-day Behavior Change Workshop of the Balili River System Revitalization Coalition (BRSRC) held recently.

Facilitated by Ramon Daen and Alexander Deocareza of the Harnessing the Nucleus of Strengthened Services (Harness) consultancy group, BRSRC members identified crucial behaviors to work on in order to achieve change.

Among these are inconsistent implementation of policies, improper segregation or garbage disposal, pig waste dumping into the river, refusal to desludge septic waste, refusal to segregate waste, absence or improper design of septic tanks, and encroachments tolerated along riverside.

While there are ongoing efforts endeavored in revitalizing the Balili River, Daen said that if change is desired focus should also be given on the vital behaviors.

Daen presented the theories behind behavioral change, which he said are unconsciously being applied but learning about it gives confidence in doing the right thing.

But he cautioned most of the behavior change efforts fail because it gives focus to only one level. The various levels progress which start with personal progressing into social and finally structural levels which incorporate elements of motivation and ability, and hand in hand, the combination is called sources of influence, said Daen.

Making the undesirable desirable, surpassing one’s limit, harnessing peer pressure, design reward and demand accountability and changing the environment are the sources of influence in changing behavior so that if all are present change is inevitable, Daen said.

In developing a plan for the river system, he said all of the influencers should be considered to give a sense of ownership among the stakeholders at the barangay level with the guidance of the BRSRC.

The coalition recognized the need to actively involve the community or the barangay, the forerunners in maintaining the river system, in the revitalization effort apart from the ongoing efforts and those already undertaken.

Equipped with knowledge and skills on changing attitudes and behaviors, the coalition members are expected to download these to the barangays through appropriate activities in ensuring better participation and sustainability in the upkeep of the Sagudin-Balili River.

The workshop was sponsored by the University of the Philippines- Baguio together with the Environment and Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Cordillera and Water Governance Project of the UP System. (Susan Aro)