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PIA Press Release

MRDP to tap information in environmental protection

by Noel T. Provido

Davao City (6 June) -- A core of advocates had been formed to further boost the environmental consciousness in Mindanao rural communities.

The Mindanao Rural Development Program Development (MRDP) recently organized its core of advocates particularly in six sites under the first year of implementation of the program's Natural Resources Management (NRM) component.

MRDP, a poverty-alleviation initiative implemented under the Department of Agriculture (DA) is implementing the NRM to promote best practices of food production in coastal areas. Since activities in the upland areas have also observed to have downstream impact in the coastal resources, NRM will also integrate sustainable land management in its program.

In a training-workshop on advocacy and communication strategies held recently in Davao City, MRDP have engaged the information and planning officers in the towns of RT Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay in Region 9; Linamon, Lanao del Norte in Region 10; Don Marcelino, Davao del Sur in Region 11; Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat in Region 12; and Datu Odin Sinsuat in ARMM to come-up with advocacy and environmental awareness campaigns in their localities.

Participants have identified several environmental issues affecting Mindanao's natural resources and hopes to avert its impact through advocating for better policies and educating the public. These include illegal or indiscriminate cutting of forest trees as well as mangrove trees, over-fishing and declining fish stocks, and siltation including weak enforcement of environmental laws.

With this, community-based advocacy and information projects to be implemented will cover promotion of the importance of agro-forestry management, river bank stabilization, coral and mangrove rehabilitation, and establishment of fish sanctuaries.

MRDP program director Roger Chio said there is a need to develop a critical mass of environmental advocates in expanding public awareness as well as in facilitating better utilization of natural resources.

"Environmental and biodiversity conservation cannot move forward purely on the strength of good policies ad laws, sound technical programs and access to financial resources. It also needs broad-base support from its stakeholders and we hope the core of advocates will help us along this line," Chio said.

MRDP deputy program director Arnel de Mesa said that NRM being a new component of the program is tapping advocacy and information strategies to increase awareness and knowledge level of community beneficiaries for them to improve food production practices that will not be detrimental to their local natural resources.

Meanwhile, Araceli dela Cruz of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 11 said for government advocacy and information programs to be more effective, there must be a paradigm shift from merely doing information dissemination to applying transformational communication that can lead to behavioral change.

Dela Cruz who was one of the speakers during the advocacy training said information program should bridge the gap between environmental awareness and empowerment of people to take action towards the arrest of ecological degradation. (DA-MRDP) [top]

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