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NegOcc water security program launched

With 25 percent of Negrenses having no access to water supply, the Negros Occidental provincial government unveiled yesterday the Provincial Integrated Water Security Program, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development.

The program, on the theme “Securing our Water Resources”, envisions to further increase access to resilient water supply, improve water resource management, and strengthen water sector governance in the province.

During the launch held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the start of these efforts is a significant step towards a serious, science and evidence-based approach, and in-depth water governance for more inclusive and sustainable development.

“Of the three million Negrenses, 25 percent have no access to water supply, and 18 percent have no access to sanitation services…It is a pity that while the entire world has made leaps in terms of modernization and technology, a very basic need such as water remains a privilege for some,” he said.

The provincial government’s partnership with the USAID, through the Safe Water project, started with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in November, and the pause and reflect session earlier this year.

Results of the baseline study indicated the province’s funding requirements of P94.81 million for water resource management, and water supply and sanitation.

Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II said that with technical support from the USAID, the provincial government is in the process of crafting the Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan.

“Along with the preparation of the plan, the provincial government has allotted for the implementation of a strategic water security projects, which will be piloted in identified areas in identified areas in Malogo River watershed,” he added.

Malogo River in Silay City has been prioritized since the area was greatly affected by heavy flooding at the start of 2021, affecting at least 18,000 people and with P45-million loss in agriculture.

Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), who spearheaded the Negros Water Summit in February last year, said that an integrated approach to water resources management is key to rational and sustainable development, and the management of water, land, and related resources.

“This will maximize economic benefit, and ensure social welfare and ecological balance that respects the cycle of nature,” he added.

The hybrid launching activity held onsite and through video conferencing was also attended by USAID acting mission director Patrick Wesner and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edgardo Rostata.*PNA

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