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World Water Day 2013: Summit launches grassroots-led initiative to protect Davao’s water resources

Posted on March 22, 2013

Davao City, March 22, 2013 – Davao City’s Watershed Management Council (WMC) deputized 42 upland farmers to monitor and report environmental violators in Mt. Tipolog, in the Panigan-Tamugan watershed, this week during a Watershed Summit in celebration of World Water Day.

The Summit, which was organized by Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), was supported through a grant from the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE). The event, which gathered together provincial government representatives, and officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and representatives of local citizens groups who are concerned about Davao’s watersheds, was aimed at strengthening partnerships among and between government and non-governmental organizations to improve the protection and management of water resources.

In a message delivered at the event by a representative of USAID, U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. said, “Managing watersheds, and the environmental services they provide, helps build ecological resilience and supports livelihoods for Filipinos. The livelihood opportunities that these efforts create, in turn encourages broad-based and inclusive economic growth, which is a shared goal under the U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Growth (PFG).”

IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes said, “This is the first batch of Bantay Bukid volunteers who will be deputized by the Davao City Government to become local protectors of the environmental. Hopefully, they can encourage other forest communities to participate in the management and protection of their forest resources by forming similar groups to safeguard the integrity of all of Davao’s eight watersheds.”

The Panigan-Tamugan watershed is one of the sites of a USAID-funded project entitled” Up-scaling Forest Restoration Efforts in Key Biodiversity Areas.” FPE and IDIS are implementing this project in Davao to improve biodiversity conservation in selected areas through forest protection and restoration. The idea for the “Bantay Bukid” volunteers springs from the recognition that forest guards play a crucial role in the protection and sustainable use of forest resources.

The Watershed Summit gave participants the opportunity to learn about best practices on watershed management and preservation. Highlights included the presentation of watershed management action plans for the Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan watersheds, the current and future sources of Davao’s drinking water.

“This Summit is very timely since 2013 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Water Cooperation. We are proud to highlight the innovative local initiatives that demonstrate cooperation among stakeholders for better water resource management. With each having different needs and priorities with regard to water use, it is essential that we all work together to achieve a sustainable and beneficial use of our water,” Fuertes said.

In his closing message, FPE Chair Mr. Nestor Carbonera stressed the importance of convergence of watershed management efforts and cooperation of local stakeholders. He said, “FPE commits to help sustain the gains of the USAID-funded UpScaling Project towards ensuring sufficient water for every Davaoeño.”

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