Bicol River News
Saving The Bicol River, Providing Livelihood

The Province of Camarines Sur recognizes the threat of Climate Change and significantly responds to it within the province and within the Bicol River.

In Camarines Sur along the eastern seaboard of the Philippines, the effects of climate change are also strongly felt. The provincial government quickly responded to the threat of the rising river with a line-up of river rehabilitation efforts.

The provincial government allocated resources for the rehabilitation of the river in 2014. Dredging operations was started in October 2014. Within the short time that the project has started, there have been significant improvements in the situation in the stretches of the river where the dredging operations have been conducted.

Charles Mansanero, 22 years old, a worker at one of the sites, said that his earnings increased since the dredging operations started last October 2014.

Mansanero shared that the dredging operations has made the process of getting the sand for hollow blocks making. Previously, he and his colleagues have to dive into the water and reach the riverbed to fill their sacks of sand. Now, the dredger purchased by the local government unit does the job for them. They just had to wait for the hoe to fill their boats with sand coming from the riverbed. Indeed, the dredging operations served not only its purpose of preventing flooding within the area, it also provided livelihood opportunities of the communities surrounding the stretch of Bicol River within Libmanan town, in Camarines Sur.

The dredging operations had doubled and even tripled their trip depending upon the weather conditions. With the increased in the number of trips, the original earnings of the sandmen of PhP 250 has now increased to PhP400-PhP 600 daily, or a monthly increase of at least PhP 10,000 monthly income. This amount goes a long way for the families benefitted by the increase. It means additional meal on the table and additional money to support their basic needs.

In a day, about 60 cubic meter of sand are dredged from the bottom floor. These numbers is also the amount of water flow prevented from being displaced into the plains beside the river in the Libmanan town proper. This activity has significantly resulted to the reduction of flooding incident in the area.

There are about 8 hollow blocks making centers and sand and gravel supply shops in the area, which are now taking advantage of the dredging in the area. Each of these shops employ 8-12 employees. Thus, there is a about 100 families who benefit economically due to this initiative of the provincial government.

Edwin Ricarte, one of the owners of the gravel and sand business, said that the dredging operation has significantly contributed in increasing the income of his business. He shared that he is happy to be able to partner with the provincial government in providing job opportunities to able and willing members of his community. He added that more dredgers in the area will fast track the recovery of the Bicol River from siltation and thus prevent flooding in the adjacent plains.

To sustain the benefits of the dredging operations and to benefit more communities, it is thus imperative that support to this initiative should be sustained. More dredging machines will significantly fast track the dredging of the whole Bicol River stretch, which lies within 70% in Camarines Sur. After all, the flooding in the area is perennial, investments in dredging machines is wise to help alleviate the problem in the area.

Furthermore, support for other sustainability and rehabilitation efforts of the provincial government should be escalated for the benefit of the river and the communities surrounding the area.

Bicol River

The Bicol River is the eighth largest river in the Philippines in terms of drainage basin size with an estimated catchment area of 3,770 km²

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