August 5, 2021
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) welcomed the call of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to save the Philippines' watershed resources saying this could help reduce poverty and boost disaster resiliency.
Watershed management is a component of the JICA-DENR Forestland Management Project (FMP) that aims to promote community-based management of forestlands in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Ifugao, Nueva Ecija, and Iloilo. FMP covers 24 sub-watersheds in three river basins, namely Upper Magat and Cagayan River Basin, Pampanga River Basin, and Jalaur River Basin in Iloilo. JICA said the DENR's launch of Save Our Watershed Campaign will help sustain the gains of the FMP in terms of sustainable forestland management.
Watersheds help prevent floods and landslides and store water for domestic, agricultural, industrial, and other productive uses. There are more than 130 critical watersheds in the Philippines. Conservation of these watersheds is backed by a government policy on community-based forest management involving people's organizations in sustainably managing the country's forest resources.
The massive flooding in Cagayan Valley brought by Typhoon Ulysses in 2020 and water shortage in Metro Manila in 2019 became wake-up calls to tackle watershed management. Flood-related disasters and depletion of water reserves have been linked to degradation and destruction of watersheds and forests.
"We recognize the importance of watershed conservation in mitigating climate change and reducing poverty in the Philippines, which is hit by an average of 20 typhoons annually," said JICA Philippines Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo. "We hope that the Save Our Watershed campaign will pave the way for intensified and countrywide action involving more stakeholders, including partnerships with local government units, private sector, civil society, academe, and media. This complements JICA-DENR partnerships with some 149 people's organizations through FMP."
So far, the JICA-DENR FMP initiative helped establish 71,300 hectares of tree and agroforestry plantations, provided seed capital to people's organizations to finance their livelihood and micro enterprises, and implemented training and organizational strengthening activities in project sites. Agroforestry support facilities such as farm to market roads and irrigation pipelines have also been provided.
"We have accumulated experiences in forestland management through holistic, comprehensive, and collaborative strategies," shared James Bantasan, president of the People's Organization Federation of Nueva Vizcaya. "The benefits that the project has brought to our communities has uplifted much our living conditions."
The Save Our Watershed Campaign of DENR aims to sustain said inroads from FMP, while also strengthening communication activities on watershed and forestland management. "The campaign reflecting from the lessons learned from FMP is envisioned to be emulated and replicated in other regions and provinces. We hope that the spirit of this Save Our Watershed campaign ripples through our DENR regional offices, foreign-assisted projects, and LGUs with initiatives on watershed conservation," emphasized DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu during the launching of the nationwide campaign at the DENR Central Office. Please visit
Aside from FMP, JICA is also supporting projects on natural resources conservation, traffic and transportation, renewable energy, water resource management, and disaster management as part of its work towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu (center) together with DENR Assistant Secretary and Forest Management Bureau Director Marcial Amaro, Jr. (left) and JICA Philippines Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo (right). Representatives from national and local government offices, the private sector, and other organizations also joined virtually.
For more details on the campaign, visit https://www.facebook.com/saveourwatershedph (external link)