LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—The United States Agency for International Development has earmarked at least P20 million to protect the Amburayan river that strands from Benguet and flows to La Union and Ilocos Sur before spilling over the West Philippine Sea.
Kevin Sharp, USAID’s Deputy Office Director for Economic Development and Governance, says he is confident the local governments hosting the Amburayan River and their partners from the government and private sectors in Benguet, La Union and Ilocos Sur will take the lead in preserving the river, the source of life for various communities for generations.
Sharp and provincial and town officials from the three provinces have signed an agreement for a three-year protection and preservation project for the Amburayan River basin and watershed that starts this year.
“Good governance and active indigenous peoples’ participation are keys to preserving the Amburayan River basin and watershed, with the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation leading the project implementation through the Jerry Roxas Foundation,” Sharp said.
Gov. Nestor Fongwan says the project includes a grassroots information campaign, profiling to include possible sources of pollution, and capacity building of the indigenous peoples in the communities traversed by the Amburayan River.
He says the project also seeks to establish an Amburayan River Council to govern the extraction and use of water and watershed resources to protect the watershed areas of the river system within the towns of Atok, Tublay, Kapangan and Kibungan.
Fongwan says the other programs to protect the Amburayan river include the formulation of an integrated water resource management plan to govern the development and conservation of the river and its watersheds.
The Amburayan River traces its watershed areas in the towns of Bakun, Buguias and Atok. It straddles Tublay, Kapangan and Kibungan down to the provinces of La Union and Ilocos Sur.
Paquito Moreno, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, says the water in the upstream part of the river is classified as Class B, which is ideal for primary contact recreation such as bathing, swimming and skin diving, while the water in its downstream is classified as Class C, which means that it is suitable for fishery and industrial water supply.
Moreno says the local governments that are part of the agreement will have watershed and river basin protection projects such as tree planting, slope protection walls and flood control.