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Sustainable water supply for 3 El Niño-prone provinces assured by DSWD’s Project LAWA

Project LAWA
Residents of the three pilot towns of Project LAWA in Ifugao province are proud of their newly-constructed community small farm in reservoirs to help them cope with the effects of the looming El Nino phenomenon. (Photos by Department of Agriculture)

For the provinces of Ifugao in Luzon, Antique in the Visayas, and Davao de Oro in Mindanao, coping with the possible effects of the El Nino phenomenon may be one less worry as they start the year 2024.

This, after the three areas, which are the pilot provinces of the Project LAWA or Local Adaptation to Water Access of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), have completed the construction of their own small farm reservoirs (SFRs).

The SFRs will ensure these provinces with sufficient water supply for their continuous production of agriculture, farming, and fishery products even with the effects of the looming drought in the country, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Sunday (December 31).

Reaping the benefits of these SFRs are the residents of the municipalities of Aguinaldo, Alfonso Lista, and Hungduan in Ifugao; Sebaste, Barbaza, and Sibalom in Antique; and Laak, Monkayo, and Compostela in Davao de Oro.

The strategic locations were specifically targeted based on the severity of the expected impact of El Niño in these areas.

Project LAWA

The DSWD Secretary said the cash-for-work (CFW) and cash-for-training (CFT) components of Project LAWA paved the way for the construction of the SFRs.

“The local residents themselves were engaged in Project LAWA and they helped in building these water reservoirs that will benefit their respective communities amid the possible impacts of a dry spell on their livelihood,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

Under Project LAWA, residents in the pilot areas in the provinces were provided with financial support, through the DSWD’s CFW and CFT, in exchange for the work they rendered in constructing the alternative water resources.

“The Project LAWA aims to assist and protect poor and vulnerable communities from the impacts of the slow onset of the El Niño phenomenon by giving them sustainable water sources and additional income support,” the DSWD chief said.

Project LAWA’s framework focused on the construction of small farm reservoirs strategically placed in selected towns for 15 days and constructed within a 20 by 25-square meter area with a maximum depth of 50 feet.

“These reservoirs are intended to serve as vital water sources for communities during periods of drought or dry spells. Aside from an alternative water source, it can also serve as ponds to breed and raise fish and irrigation for their agricultural products,” Secretary Gatchalian explained.

Project LAWA

Ensuring food security

The DSWD chief emphasized that more than providing a sustainable source of water supply, Project LAWA is one of the agency’s food security measures to achieve the goal of “walang gutom na pamilyang Pilipino”(no Filipino family will experience hunger) especially those coming from the Indigenous Peoples, farmers, fisherfolk, and women sectors, by making them productive.

“With the availability of sustainable water supply through the SFRs, communities are able to plant more fruit bearing trees, disaster resilient crops and vegetable, as well as implement aquaponics and aquaculture activities for their proper nourishments,” Secretary Gatchalian stressed.

Nationwide implementation

With the success of the pilot implementation, the DSWD chief said Project LAWA will be rolled out nationwide next year.

“We thank our partners like the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) well as the local government units (LGUs) for the commitment to support the Phase 2 of the project,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

Officially launched last August 31, Project LAWA is an initiative of the DSWD, through its Disaster Response Management Bureau (DRMB), that aims to provide a sustainable solution and proactive intervention to address the challenges faced by poor communities during periods of severe drought, ultimately mitigating the threat of water scarcity.

Project LAWA is also one of the DSWD’s contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals 1(no poverty), 2 (no hunger), 13 (climate action), and to the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028, under Climate Resiliency and Food Security.

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