DSWD Announces Completion of Small Farm Reservoirs Under Project LAWA

MANILA: Secretary Rex Gatchalian of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced on Sunday the completion of small farm reservoirs (SFRs) in selected pilot provinces under Project LAWA (Local Adaptation to Water Access). These reservoirs, constructed in Ifugao, Antique, and Davao de Oro, are part of an initiative to mitigate the potential effects of the El Niño phenomenon. Gatchalian emphasized in a news release that these provinces are now better equipped to face the challenges of El Niño as they begin the year 2024.

According to Philippines News Agency, municipalities in these provinces, including Aguinaldo, Alfonso Lista, Hungduan in Ifugao; Sebaste, Barbaza, Sibalom in Antique; and Laak, Monkayo, Compostela in Davao de Oro, were chosen based on the severity of the expected impact of El Niño. The construction of the SFRs was facilitated through the cash-for-work (CFW) and cash-for-training (CFT) components of Project LAWA, involving local residents in the building process. These residents received financial support in exchange for their labor, contributing to the development of alternative water resources for their communities.

The DSWD chief highlighted that Project LAWA aims to assist and protect communities from the slow onset of the El Niño phenomenon by providing sustainable water sources and additional income support. The SFRs, covering an area of 20 by 25 square meters with a maximum depth of 50 feet, are designed to serve as crucial water sources during droughts. They also offer the potential for fish breeding and irrigation for agricultural products.

Gatchalian stated that Project LAWA is not just about ensuring a sustainable water supply; it is also a strategic food security measure. The availability of water from the SFRs enables communities to cultivate more fruit-bearing trees, disaster-resilient crops, and vegetables, and engage in aquaponics and aquaculture, contributing to the goal of eliminating hunger among Filipino families. This initiative particularly benefits indigenous communities, farmers, fisherfolk, and women.

Looking ahead, the DSWD plans to expand Project LAWA to more areas next year. Gatchalian expressed gratitude to partners like the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the World Food Programme, as well as local government units, for their support in Phase 2 of the project. Launched on August 31, Project LAWA is part of the DSWD's contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically targeting no poverty, no hunger, and climate action, and aligns with the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028, focusing on Climate Resiliency and Food Security.