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MinDA push water supply program for waterless municipalities

PROVIDING water supply systems in waterless municipalities is one of Mindanao Development Authority’s (MinDA) key initiatives, Secretary Leo Tesoro Magno said Thursday.

The newly appointed MinDA chair made the pronouncement during the 18th MinDA Board Meeting press conference on June 27, the first board meeting after his installment.

“We passed a resolution during the Board meeting encouraging agencies involved to continue the study and identification of areas in Mindanao that are waterless,” Magno said.

During the board meeting, a resolution was passed approving requesting funding allocation for the Mindanao Water Supply Program from various sources through the General Appropriations Act, Official Development Assistance, and Public-Private Partnerships. 

In July, Magno shared the board will visit a number of waterless municipalities identified by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

“From there we can start going into details of how we can provide sufficient and potable water supply to these municipalities,” he added.

The chairman is positive this program is supported by the Congress and they will assist in looking for funds to realize the project.

Arturo Milan, Regional Development Council XI chair, said there is a “water crisis” happening in various regions in Mindanao.

Milan debunked NEDA data that 80% of the water source in the country including Mindanao is surface water and 20% is groundwater, wherein fact 80% is from ground water.

He added this is the reason Mindanao is experiencing water problems such as over-extraction and the intrusion of salt water into the water table.

“This is very vital that everybody will understand that we should not over-extract as it ultimately leads to a loss of fresh water,” Milan said.

He added clustering of municipalities with insufficient water supply with those with abundant water sources was one of the discussed initiatives.

Asec. Romeo Montenegro, MinDA deputy executive director, shared that the Mindanao Water Supply Program initiative started in 2019, initially targeting 213 waterless municipalities out of 422 in Mindanao.

Waterless municipalities, as per DILG, are where 50% of the population does not have access to a Level 3 water system.  Level 3 is connected all the way to the households in the area.

“121 of these 213 municipalities for the next 4-5 years to be the focus of such intervention,” Montenegro said.

Most areas identified are in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He added they will focus on three components: infrastructure such as building the facilities; technical assistance to capacitate LGUs to implement the project; and addressing watershed as a water source.

“No matter how good our facilities are, if the source of water is not being addressed, it is not going to be sustainable,” he added.

The timetable for implementation of the program is for 2025-2028, with an initial project cost of P3.9 billion, which could vary to the resources of the municipality.

Montenegro said modalities of implementation and design of the program will conform to the nature of every area, as some areas rely on groundwater; while water desalination is eyed in island municipalities.

Photo: Bing Gonzales



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