In keeping with the vision of Bicol University for a world-class university, the Extension Service Center (ESC) has initiated a university-based project called “The Bicol University Integrated Program for Sustainable Development and Management of Local Watershed Communities” (BU- IPSDMLWC), also known as the BU Watershed program.
It being the new banner program of the center, all colleges and units of the university will now work on a common extension ground whose specific participation shall be in accordance with their respective expertise based on the identified thematic areas covering the program for sustainable watershed initiatives along: Agriculture, Fisheries, Science and technology-Based Enterprises; Basic Education and Cultural Development; Health and Nutrition; Environmental and Natural Resources Management; Local Governance; Rural Infrastructure and Rural Energy; Skills Development; Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction; and Management and Peace Promotion.
The program progressively adopts the so-called “Convergence Strategy” (ConStrat) with the ESC as the main actor in the convergence activity. The center shall assign the specific roles of the different colleges or units in the implementation of the project activities.
In the initial stages, the ESC through the representative of some units of the university, shall identify and gather important information about the target communities. Consultation and dialogues with key leaders in the community through their Local Government Unit (LGU) representative will be done.
In particular, the BU Watershed program will be piloted in four (4) areas covering the province of Albay, particularly the municipalities of Tiwi (1st district), Manito (2nd district), and Pioduran (3rd district), and one watershed in the province of Sorsogon.
The program, on the whole, is directed towards poverty reduction in the region; creation of and assistance in livelihood opportunities through science-based home-grown matured technologies; uplifting the standard of living of local communities; achieving sustainable development goals (SDG), including the protection, restoration, and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and resources that will halt biodiversity loss. Specifically, the program’s over-all objective is geared towards establishing an integrated and sustainable advocacy towards enhancing the quality of life of local watershed communities through appropriate science-based home-grown technologies, guided by the following specific objectives:
- Disseminate and upscale the Conservation Farming Villages (CFV) modality in enhancing the productivity of the upland areas;
- Promote biodiversity through conservation of indigenous crops which are resilient to climate change;
- Institute disaster risk reduction management in farming and fishing communities;
- Enhance the culture and promote indigenous knowledge system in the conservation and protection of watershed areas;
- Capacitate farmers and fisher folks on sustainable management and conservation of the watershed and production of food crops;
- Enhance existing and develop enterprises in the target area as a source of livelihood of the community; and
- Develop a monitoring and evaluation system of the project to ensure smooth flow of project activities.
This extension service is generally in sync with the inherent functions of higher learning institutions as defined in the General Appropriations Act, with the purpose of initiating, catalyzing and sustaining the development of various communities, using their experience and available resources vis-à-vis the mandate for the creation of Bicol University under Republic Act 5521; hence fulfilling its mission, which is “to give professional and technical training and provide advanced and specialized instruction in literature, philosophy, the science, and the arts.”
In order to provide substantial knowledge, solid understanding, and greater appreciation among the extensionists and implementers of the Sustainable Watershed Management Program of Bicol University, the ESC mobilized on April 29, 2016 a one-day benchmarking activity in Manito, Albay for the BacMan Experience of the Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) sustainable best watershed practices in managing its watershed areas along areas in Manito, Albay and the province of Sorsogon.
As one of the partner institutions of Bicol University particularly along its extension engagements, the EDC conducted a lecturette to the 28 participants from Bicol University and an actual visit to the watershed sites, as BacMan sits on a 25,000 hectare geothermal reservation straddling Bacon, Sorsogon and Manito, Albay in the Bicol region.
According to Mr. Henry P. Roy, EDC HES & Regulatory Compliance Division, Bacon-Manito Geothermal Project of the Palayan Bayan, Manito, Albay, the EDC’s renewable energy projects support the economic and environmental goals of the Philippines for a renewable energy adhering to the laws and regulations that govern energy use. EDC is a Lopez Group company engaged in the development of geothermal and other renewable energy sources’ model on watershed initiatives in 150-MW Bacon-Manito Geothermal Production Field.
BU intends to maximize impact of its extension programs by not only involving as many of its colleges/units as possible, but also through public-private partnerships. (Agnes J. Nepomuceno/CAL)