MANIOLA, Aug. 21 — Senator Loren Legarda on Tuesday called for greater involvement of local governments in Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, and Davao Oriental in the effective and collaborative management of the Agusan River Basin to address the risks and challenges, as well as maximize the opportunities brought by the river basin to their communities.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, is again organizing a Regional Workshop on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Butuan City this August 23. It will be done in partnership with the Local Government Academy (LGA) and the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), targeting local government officials and other stakeholders.
The Senator, who is also United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, earlier led similar workshops covering the Pampanga, Bicol, and Cagayan de Oro River Basins.
The Agusan River Basin faces several challenges. Beyond the threat of devastating floods during heavy rains, a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) found that domestic wastewater, solid waste disposal, and sedimentation due to erosion cause serious water quality problems, which threatens lives and sources of income. Seismicity and mercury pollution also put the area at risk, she explained.
An important feature of the area is the Agusan Marsh. It is deemed a Wetland of National Importance, and hosts the widest expanse found in the Philippines of seven habitat types, including a very large area of swamp forest and peat swamp forest not found elsewhere in the country. We should also look into making the Marsh disaster resilient, as degradation of this area will affect not only people but also the rich biodiversity within, she added.
In organizing the collaboration workshop, Legarda stressed that the task before leaders, especially of local governments, is straightforward.
We have to make our communities safer, more resilient, and more prepared to respond whenever a disaster strikes. We should be able to engage all key stakeholders and sectors, to promote cooperation and coordination among themselves, to promote greater risk awareness in communities, she stated.
Now is the time to secure the future that we want for our people. Engaging officials and stakeholders at the local government level is a concrete step towards building communities resilience to disasters, which is why these workshops have become all the more important, Legarda concluded. (PNA)