News / Asia

Traditional Farm Practices Hold Promise for Philippines' Sick Rivers

Such mountainside farms have survived for more than 900 years, in part because locals have maintained nearby forests. File photo
Such mountainside farms have survived for more than 900 years, in part because locals have maintained nearby forests. File photo
Prospero Laput
An estimated 80 percent of Asia’s rivers are considered “sick,” meaning they suffer from pollution and the uncoordinated development of water resources. As conservationists rethink strategies to save rivers, young researchers in Manila are finding promise in an age-old watershed preservation approach. 
 
The Ifugaos of the Cordillera region in northern Philippines are known as the builders of the area’s UNESCO heritage rice-terraces. Such mountainside farms have survived for more than 900 years, in part because locals have maintained nearby forests and protected the watersheds that sustain their fields.
 
In the lowlands, expanding populations and industrial growth have stressed rivers and water basins, despite master development plans designed by top engineers.
 
Asia Development Bank water expert Wouter Lincklaen Arriens says the old practices of local communities should play a bigger role in modern watershed management.
 
“It is the communities, it is the societies that have to come to grips with the shortages and excesses of water availability. So the resilience is really in the people and in the communities,” said Arriens.
 
Students such as Jae Woo Jang, a seventh grader at an international school in Manila, are teaming up with researchers like Scott Platt-Salcedo in the search for solutions to the Philippines’ water woes. 
 
Jang says the key to the success of the Ifugaos appears to be their commitment to biodiversity; the variety of plants and other living things that make forests healthy and in turn store more water.
 
"People did not have to be taught that biodiversity was important. They realized that the healthy forest was built by their need to plant diverse plants. For example, they have planted 171 different tree species… among which 121 are used for specific purposes," said Jang.
 
Ifugao elder and farmer Jose Pinay-an of the Cordillera’s Hungduan town says the forest preservation techniques used today were passed down from ancestors.
 
"We have water because our parents taught us that when we cut some trees, we should plant more than what we cut. So that's our practice," said Pinay-an.
 
However, the old practices that have proved successful for so long are struggling to connect with the next generation of Ifugaos, who are increasingly leaving the fields behind to pursue jobs in the lowlands.
 
It’s a bittersweet moment for the community; even as their conservation techniques gain recognition amongst researchers, the Ifugaos are struggling to pass them on to their own children.

Traditional Farm Practices Hold Promise For Philippines' Sick Riversi
X
September 25, 2013 5:18 AM
An estimated 80 percent of Asia’s rivers are considered “sick,” suffering from pollution and uncoordinated development of water resources. As conservationists rethink strategies to save rivers, young researchers in Manila are finding promise in an age-old watershed preservation approach.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid