“Rainwater Harvesting”, An Ancient Technology
to Combat Climate Change”
An Interview with Ms. Waling-Waling Terania
Municipal Agricultural Officer, Municipality of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo
by: Rex Sustento
Ms. Waling-waling Terania, the Acting Municipal Agricultural Officer (MAO) and Watershed Point Person (WPP) of the Municipality of Santa Barbara, Iloilo, shared the experiences of the municipality as one of the partners of the Rainwater Harvesting for Climate Change (RHCC) Project. The following are excerpts from an interview with her on the project
Q: After more than 8 months since the project started, what is your general assessment as to its progress?
A: This project has really helped our farmer-beneficiaries since more than 80% of the farmlands here in our municipality are basically rain-fed. The rain water ponds are beneficial to our farmers since production cost is high nowadays, including cost for irrigation water. Abundant water supply is indeed necessary so ponds have become, in effect, solutions to this problem.
Q: You said that this project is a big help to our farmer-beneficiaries, have other farmers been practicing the technology?
A: This is not a new technology and has been practiced since time immemorial. Our office has been implementing similar projects in our area. However, there is still a need for replication; in fact, we are still campaigning for it. So far, most of the farmers in our municipality are aware of rainwater harvesting
Q: How about the maintenance and sustainability of the project?
A: Our farmer-beneficiaries maintain the project because they have benefited from it. In fact, their agricultural expenditures have greatly reduced because of the water ponds. Moreover, rainwater harvesting technology has given way to livelihood opportunities since some of our farmer-beneficiaries turn their rainwater ponds into mini fish ponds where catfish and other fish thrive. Our Office also provides vegetable seeds to be planted around the ponds to prevent erosion and at the same time to help defray their food expenses. We are committed to giving them full-support.
Q: What are the steps or action that the local government has taken in order to promote rainwater harvesting technology?
A: Well, the Local Government Unit under the able leadership of Mayor Isabelo J. Maquino has been very supportive of this undertaking. In fact, the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO), has been consistently providing our farmers technical assistance which includes rainwater harvesting technology as well
as constant supervision and monitoring.
Q: Has rainwater harvesting been integrated in the Local Development Plan for 2009?
A: At this point, the budget allocated for agriculture and environmental protection and development has been increased to include the expansion and promotion of rainwater harvesting.
Q: It is good to hear that. Have you encountered any major problems during the implementation of the project?
A: So far, we have not met any major problem since the local government has always been so supportive and the farmers are very cooperative.
Q: Aside from rainwater ponds, are there any rainwater catchment technologies which have been introduced in your area?
A: The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been promoting rainwater harvesting technologies like the small farm reservoir (SFR), terraces, rice paddies, small diversion dams. At present, the DA implements water diversion dam projects in four barangays in our municipality – Calaboa Oeste, Bitaog- Taytay, Balibagan Este and Barasan Este.
Q: Your final words, ma’am?
A: Well, rainwater harvesting is not a new technology. Our farmers are not aware that they have been practicing it as source of their irrigation and livelihood for a long time. This technology was just set aside because of modernization of agriculture and modern technologies were promoted by our government including centralized irrigation facilities. With the RHCC, we are back to basics because we are facing uncertainties with the impact of climate change.