Saving Cordillera mountains, empowering indigenous communities

Published June 20, 2021, 11:29 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has launched two major research programs seeking to protect the mountains in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and ensure water security and climate resilience for indigenous communities in the region.

Maligcong Rice Terraces, Bontoc, Mountain Province (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said the two programs were launched by DOST-CAR to preserve the region’s mountains through innovative engineering solutions, and ensure enough, safe, and clean water supply in indigenous communities in CAR.

He said the first program calls for the establishment of a “Mountain Engineering Center” in the region. It is funded under the Science for Change Program (S4CP) Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER).

The DOST chief said “Program Boondock: A Mountain Engineering Center Towards Sustainable Infrastructure and Upland Water Security” is a collaborative effort of the DOST-CAR with the University of the Cordilleras (UC), Kalinga State University (KSU), Saint Louis University (SLU) and the Watershed and Water Resources Research, Development and Extension Center (WWRRDEC). WWRRDEC is one of the Research Centers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB).

“The first program seeks to enhance the industrial competitiveness of the Cordilleras in the field of agriculture, tourism and mobility through mountain engineering solutions and promote social and human development through upland water security, and environmental sustainability,” he said.

De la Peña said the second program seeks to ensure water security and climate resilience for Cordillera’s mountain indigenous communities through technology-enhanced decision support tools.

It is funded under DOST’s National Research Council of the Philippines’s (NRCP) Grants-in-Aid ` (GIA) program and will be jointly implemented by DOST-CAR with the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) and University of the Cordilleras (UC) The initiative is expected “to bring about sufficient, clean and safe domestic water supply in mountain communities especially during the dry season,” de la Peña said.

“It will provide the necessary data and information to support decisions on water resources development for water supply that are more resilient to climate change and climate variability,” he said. “It also seeks to establish technology enhanced information and decision support system for the conservation and protection of the rivers and watersheds of the Cordilleras,” he added.

The involved LGUs in both programs are the provincial government units of Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province; and municipal government units of Sallapadan, Abra; Itogon, Tuba, Tublay, and La Trinidad, Benguet; Baguio City; Banaue, Ifugao; Tabuk City, and Tinglayan, Kalinga; and Bontoc and Bauko, Mountain Province.

The research programs were launched on June 8.