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Increasing the Reduction of Hazards and Threats through Preparedness and Alternative Indigenous Technologies Along the River Systems of Allah and Safali Rivers (I-RePAIR): Filipino ingenuity towards resilience

Posted on December 9, 2019

FPE Overall Goal: Improve key conservation sites through community approaches and actions

Showcasing the Naci Dike technology to prevent soil erosion in Brgy. Naci, Surallah. This is one of the FPE’s project sites and where the technology originated.  (Photo credit: TLDFI)

The Philippines ranks #5 in the list of countries most affected by hazards caused by an ever-changing climate. According to the Climate Risk Index (CRI)1  for 1998-2017, the country ranks very high in terms of exposure to climate risks and hazards (Eckstein et al., 2019). Several communities along the Mindanao River basin bear witness to this. Specifically located along with the river systems of Allah and Safali rivers in Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato, farming communities highly exposed and vulnerable to the effects of climate-induced hazards experienced massive flooding. This was further aggravated by human activities such as kaingin, mining, illegal logging in the area. Flooding episodes and the consequent siltation of its river systems in 1996 and in 2006, has destroyed their farms and strongly impacted on their livelihood. The lack of alternative livelihoods and their huge financial losses have pushed them further to poverty. Thus, the flooding of houses near the river has increased the level of risk for many poor people. 


But the community showed it can bounce back forward from the floods that affected their area. Ten (10) farmers in Barangay Naci initially came-up with a new idea to address the rivers overflowing into the farmlands. They came up with a plan to use strong and sturdy species of bamboo locally known as Lasak, to create a dike system along the river, entrenching the bamboo poles into the edges of the river. The Tribal Leaders Development Foundation Inc. (TLDFI) conceptualized the I-RePAIR Project (Increasing the Reduction of Hazards and Threats through Preparedness and Alternative Indigenous Technologies Along the River Systems of Allah and Safali Rivers), using the Naci Dike Technique.

Naci Technology Community Technicians: Trained farmers in action. (Photo credit: TLDFI)

 

The project aimed to rehabilitate at least 21 kilometers of degraded riverbanks using the Naci Dike Technique to facilitate its promotion as a low cost and effective riverbank protection mechanism, providing assistance in strengthening of the Barangay Environment and Riparian Zone Management Councils and eventually, creating a Municipal Environment and Riparian Zone Management Committee within the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (MDRRMC). With support from the local government, the project has adopted participatory processes and gave premium in indigenous or local knowledge as major contributors to building adaptive capacity

 
10-foot bamboo poles were drilled into the ground at a maximum depth of 6 to 8 feet. The depth not only makes the bamboo poles more resistant to pressures brought about by floods but also strengthens the soil they were driven into. The bamboo poles also help streambank erosion and inundation to rice paddies.  

Project orientation and planning with the Barangay Officials of Lamsugod and partner communities/beneficiaries in Brgy. Lamsugod, Surallah, South Cotabato, in April 2019. (Photo credit: TLDFI)


In the first year of I-RePAIR’s implementation, 11.15 kilometers of riverbank were installed with Naci Dike with an estimate of 209 hectares of rice fields saved from flooding and siltation in Surallah and Bagumbayan. The majority of damaged riverbanks installed with Naci Dike have began to recover. Farmers also noticed an increase in vegetation. 


The I-RePAIR project has helped riverside farming communities secure their livelihoods and safety. The bamboo poles act as a substitute for trees, becoming the first line of defense against flooding. While the project has been a success, the fight to keep riverside communities safe from the disastrous effects of flash floods is far from over. We must continue to seek methods to protect people and biodiversity from the repercussions of the climate crisis, but I-RePAIR has proven to be a great start. 


Soon enough the bamboo dike technology, with the help of other local officials as well as the TLDFI and FPE, further spread into other barangays and communities near the rivers in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat. 


While there are already several strategies being employed by different CSOs and other academic groups in different communities in the country, I-RePAIR can be one of the best cases on the use of indigenous technology for flood protection in the Philippines and something we should be very proud of!

 

References:
Eckstein et al. (2019). Global Climate Risk Index 2019. 
I-REPAIR Terminal Report with reference no.  SS17-302M-CO-L (implemented by TLDFI) - 2018.
UNDP (2015) “Strengthening the Resilience of the Most Vulnerable Coastal Communities to Climate Change in the Philippines’ Eastern Seaboard” 
Original article was drafted by Mindanao Regional Unit

 

For more stories, click here to access the FPE 2019 Annual Report

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