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Proud of my Purok: Reducing floods and land slides in the Agusan Delta, Philippines

Submitted by Julia Barrott 30th December 2015 21:11
Project Video: Reducing floods and land slides in the Agusan Delta, Philippines

Introduction

In this project, which runs from January 2014 to January 2017, the Red Cross, CARE Netherlands and Wetlands International have joined forces to work together on disaster prevention and preparedness in the Agusan Delta in the South of the Philippines.

Several times a year heavy tropical storms and cyclones hit the Philippines. In 2013 this happened more than twenty times, including "super typhoon" Haiyan. Fortunately, the Philippine population is very resilient, rebuilding their lives with creative solutions after each disaster. Under the influence of climate change and increasing pressure on ecosystems however, the number of natural disasters and their impact is expected to only increase. 

The annual natural flow and flood of the Agusan River brings fertile lands and rivers and marshes full of fish and wildlife. However, as a result of severe deforestation in the mountains, natural buffers have been reduced and the surrounding slopes and hills are exposed to erosion. This causes mudslides in the upper stream, causing many casualties and whole community districts (puroks) to disappear under the mud.

Another result of the erosion is that downstream riverbeds and marshes get completely clogged with silt. Fish disappear and annual floods become higher and longer, causing harvests to fail. People have less income, food and safe drinking water, and the stronger current is causing riverbank erosion and thereby endangering the houses close to the river.

Coupled with increasingly severe tropical storms and even typhoons security and livelihoods of local people are seriously threatened. Lives, homes and possessions are at risk, harvests are lost and the fishing is under pressure. People are increasingly vulnerable.

An Integrated Approach

In this project the Red Cross, CARE Netherlands and Wetlands International, along with the 35,000 residents of 150 neighborhoods in Mindanao,  are working to strengthen and protect vulnerable communities. 

We work with an integrated approach, in which care for people and nature go hand in hand. By investing simultaneously in durable ecosystem restoration and management and disaster preparedness, lives are not only saved, but we also save money. Each euro invested in preparation and prevention is 5-10 euro saved in emergency aid and reconstruction.

Landscape risk assessment

Together with the residents we assess not only the problems of the community districts (barangay) in which we work, but also the effects of changing land-use and climate change in the entire river basin (a landscape assessment). Based on the assessment measures will be selected to improve the sustainable land and water management. 

Ecosystem-based solutions

Ecosystem restoration and sustainable natural resource management will be a crucial part of our interventions to reduce the frequency and size and impacts of disasters in the Basin. For example we will be reforesting hillsides to prevent erosion and restoring the marshes.

In addition, we will help the districts with the preparation of evacuation plans and the implementation of early warning systems. By involving the district at every step in the process measures are guaranteed relevant and sustainable. All in close coordination with communities, the local government and other stakeholders.