The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expects good things to come out from its latest partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has committed a $150-million (P7.25-billion) bilateral assistance fund for local “enhanced ecosystems” projects
“We always welcome effective collaboration to continue the advancement and sustainability of how we protect our ecosystem and natural resources,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement Thursday, May 27.
“USAID has always been a consistent and effective ally for the DENR for the past years. They have supported us for years in creating sustainable models which guided us in increasing and strengthening our policies for the management of our ecosystems,” he said.
“That is why we are looking forward to more meaningful years with USAID in advancing our shared goals of environmental sustainability and improving the lives of the Filipino communities,” noted Cimatu.
The bilateral assistance agreement was signed last February by the Philippines National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and USAID. It was carried out as the United States (US) government marked its 75th year of bilateral relations with the Philippines, “The agreement aims to protect ecosystems, promote the sustainable use of natural resources, and build the capacity of people, communities and institutions to withstand, cope and recover from shocks and stresses so that people and ecosystems thrive,” said Sean Callahan, Acting Mission Director of USAID. Two of the projects covered by the bilateral agreement are SIBOL and Safe Water Project (SWP).
SIBOL or Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes is a five-year, $22-million (P1.1 billion) project. It supports DENR in improving natural resource governance, stimulating public and private sector investments in conservation, and reducing environmental crime, leading to greater ecosystem stability and inclusive green growth. The project also includes provision for communities’ access to clean water and sanitation services.
SIBOL works with the Biodiversity Management Bureau, Forest Management Bureau, and DENR’s field offices in Central Luzon (Region 3), Southern Luzon (Region 4B) and the CARAGA Administrative Region (Region 13). SIBOL’s implementation is led by RTI International, a US-based non-profit organization. It has three decades of experience providing technical assistance, institutional strengthening, programmatic support, and research in a variety of sectors in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, SWP is a five-year, $18.4-million (P870-million) endeavor. It works to improve water security for vulnerable and underserved communities as well as to strengthen the governance and regulation of the water sector. Working with both the national and local governments, SWP supports initiatives to increase access to resilient water supply and sanitation services. It aims to improve the sustainable management of water resources that enable long-term water provisioning.
SWP’s implementation is coordinated with NEDA and with multiple sections of the DENR. These include the Forest Management Bureau, DENR field offices in Southern Luzon (Region 4B), Western Visayas (Region 6), and SOCCSKSARGEN. It also works with the National Water Resources Board.
The project is being implemented by the DAI Global LLC, which carries a long history of working in the Philippine water sector.
“The long history of the partnership between DENR and USAID has been fruitful. We have achieved much in creating a more secure environment that sustains both ecological integrity and human development. It has led to the improved management of protected areas and strengthened environmental law enforcement. It has increased public awareness about the challenges of wildlife trafficking and improved water security through integrated watershed management, among others,” Callahan said.