Sarangani partners with academe, NGOs for watershed project

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The provincial government of Sarangani has forged a partnership with the state-run Mindanao State University (MSU) and two other non-government organizations for the implementation of the PHP103-million watershed rehabilitation project in Maitum town.

Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon said Friday he signed memoranda of agreement earlier this week with MSU, Mahintana Foundation, Inc., and Conrado and Ladislawa Alcantara Foundation, Inc. to facilitate its proper rollout.

Solon said the three entities will provide technical assistance to the provincial government in terms of research and formulation of a watershed management plan for the critical Saub River in Maitum.

“They will also help us in the monitoring and evaluation of the project’s implementation,” he said in a statement.

The governor said signing of the agreements was part of the ongoing preparatory processes for the expected release by next month of the PHP93.5-million grant from the national government’s People’s Survival Fund (PSF).

“We’re hoping to start the project’s first phase implementation within the first quarter,” he said.

The PSF approved the grant for the project on July 6, 2018 following a series of engagements with the local government.

The project, dubbed “Watershed Ecosystem Rehabilitation and Flood Risk Reduction for Increased Resilience,” costs a total of PHP103 million.

The PSF will shoulder PHP93.59 million of the funding required while the provincial government will provide a counterpart fund of PHP9.32 million.

The provincial government of Sarangani will manage the overall implementation of the project and will be working closely with the municipal government of Maitum.

Maitum will provide technical, administrative and other support in all stages of the project implementation.

In the next three years, the project will focus on the creation of a watershed governance system; build the capacity of the municipal government, development partners, beneficiaries and other stakeholders to adapt to flood risks and other impacts of climate change variability; establish river bank protection mechanisms; and help alleviate poverty in the area through agro-forestry development.

Cornelio Ramirez, executive director of the Sarangani Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC), said the project aims to improve the resilience of Saub watershed ecosystem to floods and other associated risks caused by the impact of climate change.

A report released by ECPC cited flooding as the most common hazard experienced in areas traversed by the Saub River.

Some 10,001 hectares of its immediate environs are considered as highly prone to flooding, 5,881.65 hectares are facing moderate risk and 2,604.26 hectares with low risk.

The Saub watershed covers nine barangays with a total of 1,747 households living along its 100-meter riparian zone.

Since 2010, several “extreme flooding” incidents were recorded in the area, which led to a number of deaths and destruction of agricultural and other properties, the ECPC report said. –PNA

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