Iloilo-Batiano River Development Project
Due to rapid urbanization, the number of occupants along the Iloilo river bank increased and as a consequence, this has resulted in unregulated conversion of river banks into fishponds, indiscriminate cutting of mangroves, unregulated waste disposal and informal settlements. The Iloilo River Master Plan was formulated in 2003 under the auspices of the Iloilo River Development Council to engage the people to revive as well as preserve the Iloilo River. The council, which was renamed to Iloilo- Batiano River Development Council (IBRDC) and chaired by the city mayor, provided the venue for interaction and coordination of programs for the rehabilitation of Iloilo River.
In 2011, two river summits were conducted to serve as the platform for future consensus-based action planning, decision-making as well as the formulation of the Council’s objectives and strategies. Dialogue between agencies and stakeholders took place and emerging issues and integrated courses of action were discussed. Recognizing that people’s participation and empowerment requires information, the Council embarked on a massive social marketing, information and education campaign.
For this purpose, the Iloilo-Batiano River Development project was developed. It is a collaboration among national agencies, non-government organizations, academe and the city government to rehabilitate the Iloilo River. It benefitted more than 50 thousand residents from 35 barangays living along the Iloilo River in terms of improved health, ecological sustainability, and sense of security and livability. The project was also successful in the relocation of informal settlers along the river bank as well as in the removal of fish pens which resulted in increased fish population, prevention of soil erosion, and preservation of the mangrove’s high biodiversity index.
The project also attracted the construction of circumferential and radial roads and the establishment of convention centers, hotels, and condominiums which spurred local economic development, created more jobs and livelihood activities, increased income, and improved quality of life. As part of development of the waterway, the Esplanade provided the needed access to the Iloilo River and brought a sense of pride and ownership among Ilonggos. Today, it serves not only as a major tourist destination but also as a venue for many outdoor recreation and healthy lifestyle activities as well as community assemblies.
To ensure the sustainability of the Council, a city ordinance institutionalizing the Iloilo- Batiano River Development Council is currently being drafted. The proposed ordinance will highlight the roles and responsibilities of the city government, member agencies and stakeholders as well as the mechanisms, policies and procedures for the integrated management of the Iloilo-Batiano River System.
The Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council and its accomplishments have been acknowledged through various awards and recognitions such as the 2010 Gold Livcom Award for the “Iloilo River Development Projects”, 2011 Special Award for the “Advancing the Iloilo River Development Initiatives Through Integrated Sustainable Management”, among others. Among its international partners include the Rivers of the World Foundation, International River Foundation, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, CITYNET, Urban Environmental Accord, Brehmen Overseas Research and Development Association, and US Agency for International Development. The close collaboration with these organizations exemplified the strong public-private partnership that the project was able to achieve.