AN INTER-PROVINCIAL alliance was recently formed to ensure the coordinated and holistic management of the Agusan River Basin (ARB), one of the largest river basins in the country that spans across six provinces, one city, and three regions in Mindanao.
In a memorandum of agreement, ARB stakeholders composed of representatives from the local government, national government offices, peoples organizations, religious sector and river basin constituents signed a partnership for the effective and sustainable management of the ARB.
The partnership was signed during the recently-concluded 1st Agusan River Basin Summit, held at the Almont Hotel in Butuan City.
More than 200 stakeholders from the provinces of the Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, and this city, gathered for the event aimed at formalizing the Agusan River Basin Organization (ARBO), the body responsible in implementing conservation and development strategies for the river basin.
The summit was also held in response to the prevailing issues and challenges facing the ARB including the non-convergence of efforts towards disaster risk reduction management, increasing population within the river basin, and the deteriorating quality and quantity of water resources.
“This summit showcases the emerging commitment of our stakeholders from various sectors to take on the key challenges facing the Agusan River Basin,” said Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda).
She added that protecting and ensuring the sustainable use of the river basin is not just the job of the national government agencies and the local government units, but mainly of the stakeholders, constituents, and the communities.
“The task to protect and ensure the sustainable use of the ARB requires this kind of convergence, particularly now that the basin is facing threats of deterioration,” said Antonino.
In the completed ARB Master Plan, which provides the guidelines and strategies for the basin’s sustainable management, the ARBO is crucial in bringing together upstream and downstream stakeholders to harmonize various plans and programs and to facilitate understanding, commitments, and the transfer of funds to mitigate threats within and around the basin.
“It is inspiring to see people from all parts of society convene for one common goal – protect the river basin. This summit encourages everyone to move forward with all our plans for the sustainable development of the areas covered by the basin,” said Most Reverend Juan de Dios Pueblos of the Diocese of Butuan.
Rev. Pueblos served as the chair of interim ARBO, and currently sits as the head of the Governing Board of the formalized ARBO.