The progress of a town in Lanao del Sur is expected to take off after it was identified for a program that will push for rural development.
As a Champion Town of the province, Taraka will get an initial of P80 million budget for rural development, said Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, as the money will be used for rural development projects aimed at providing jobs and addressing poverty.
In a press conference last week, Piñol said aside from his agency, other agencies that are supporting the program include the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)
Among the key projects that are to be implemented are a potable water system for the residents of the town and solar irrigation system for their farms that will also provide electricity to the 3,000 households.
Mayor Nashiba Sumagayan welcomed the program, saying this will help address poverty as about two-thirds of the residents are considered poor.
“Not only Taraka, but the whole province is having a problem with electricity and irrigation. In fact, we only have very limited irrigation,” said Sumagayan.
She added: “In our town, we don’t have a source of irrigation. We have canals, pero walang dumadaloy na tubig (but there is no running water).”
She also added that through the solar irrigation systems, farmers will be able to increase their production as they can plant thrice a year, compared with at present where they can only plant twice a year at the most.
She said that although they have an existing water system, it is not enough to supply the needs of the people and that they are dependent on the Taraka River which is unsafe.
She is certain that the new water system will provide enough clean water for the people. “Matagal na itong dream ng Taraka (This has been a dream of Taraka for a long time), and I hope that this will become a reality,” she said.
She added that the people of Taraka are happy with this new project since this could help them improve their lives and get out of poverty.
She said the residents are willing to cooperate, and they, as leaders, are responsible of making their constituents more proactive and participative for the planning and implementation of the project.
The data-based planning for the project starts on the first week of February while its groundbreaking ceremony for the solar project is expected to be held in March.
Aside from those projects, a learning center similar to the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBLRC) in Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur, will also be built in Taraka and will become part of the New Hope Learning Center program of MinDA.