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ADB Provides $100 Million to Protect Philippines' Stressed River Basins
With one in four Filipinos living along the watersheds of upper river basins, ADB's $100 million loan will support reforestation, climate change mitigation, and livelihood measures.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development (ADB) will provide $100 million to help the Philippines protect its vast upper river basins, where deforestation and unsustainable farming practices are undermining the food security and livelihoods of millions of Filipinos, including many vulnerable indigenous communities.
“One in four Filipinos lives in the watersheds of upper river basins, and protecting these fragile ecosystems is absolutely critical for their wellbeing and the country’s overall development,” said Pavit Ramachandran, an Environmental Specialist with ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “These projects will improve the protection of these threatened resources and provide new employment and income opportunities for many households.”
The project will develop environmentally sustainable river basin management plans for four basins, covering northern Luzon, Bohol in central Visayas, and two on the southern island of Mindanao. It will also support reforestation, climate change mitigation, and livelihood measures benefiting 220,000 households in uplands areas, 70% of which are indigenous peoples and ethnic minority communities.
Watersheds in upper river basins make up 45% of the country’s total land mass, and forests play a critical role in regulating the quantity and quality of water used in hydropower production, irrigation and domestic use. Growing population pressure and poor resource protection have seen increasing conversion of forest into marginal farms, resulting in erosion, productivity losses and seasonal unemployment.
In addition, siltation of rivers and lake systems in Lake Lanao and Upper Bukidnon in Mindanao has affected fish catches and caused substantial hydropower output losses. Deforestation has also left poor communities increasingly exposed to natural disasters.
The project will rehabilitate more than 325,000 hectares of land through community-based replanting and conservation activities. To support livelihoods and raise incomes, local government units will receive funding to upgrade and rehabilitate rural access roads, communal irrigation and water facilities, and trading and processing centers for farming communities.