Sympathy comes from a position of privilege, it is easy to have sympathy for communities, but empathy involves levelling with people and realizing that their concerns cannot be separated from one’s own.
The third Amburayan Stakeholder’s meeting was held last September 29-30, 2015 in Baccuit, La Union and one issue identified was the balance between protecting the river and considering the needs of the communities residing around it. Communities whose activities and livelihoods could contribute to the river’s pollution and the watershed’s degradation.
Partner agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), NIA (National Irrigation Agency) and members of the academic community (Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University) were quick to consider agroforestry as a response to the needs of communities, agroforestry looks at forest production as well as protection, a sentiment echoed by representatives of People’s Organizations who are well aware that forest lands are often used for agriculture. Educating communities on sanitation and providing them with resources like common latrines as mentioned by the Department of Health (DOH) could help eliminate the practice of dumping human waste into the river.
This underlines the importance of collaborative engagement between various stakeholders to ensure that concerns and interests are considered against the backdrop of bigger goals without losing sight of the plights of our communities.
Protecting and Defending the Amburayan River Basin and Watershed through Good Governance and Active Peoples’ Participation is a project funded by the USAID through the Gerry Roxas Foundation (GRF) and is implemented by the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation Inc. (JVOFI).//Flynn S.Ayugat