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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.