The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to implement P7.25-billion worth of projects for enhanced ecosystems in the Philippines, a move that will be largely backed by a bilateral assistance fund from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
This particular assistance fund came as the United States government marks this year its 75th year of bilateral relations with the Philippines.
It was signed earlier this year by USAID and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“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 Acting USAID Mission Director Sean Callahan.
Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes (SIBOL) and Safe Water Project (SWP) are just two of the projects covered by the bilateral agreement.
SIBOL is a five-year project that will cost P1.1-billion to implement. 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 U.S.-based non-profit organization that has three decades of experience providing technical assistance, institutional strengthening, programmatic support, and research in a variety of sectors in the Philippines.
SWP, on the other hand, is a five-year project that will cost P870 million to implement. It works to improve water security for vulnerable and underserved communities.
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, including 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 DAI Global LLC, which carries a long history of working in the Philippine water sector.
SWP is also coordinated with local organizations, Orient Integrated Development Consultants, Inc. (OIDCI), Lutheran World Relief, Inc. (LWR), CEST, Inc., Geosciences Foundation Inc., and the Manila Observatory.
“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,” Callahan said.
“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,” he added.
For his part, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said he is looking forward to more meaningful years with USAID in advancing their shared goals of environmental sustainability and improving the lives of the Filipino communities.
Since 2014, USAID has provided more than P5 billion in assistance to the Philippine government in conserving the country’s biodiversity and protecting its landscapes and seascapes.