HomeNewsIP, green groups urge for alternatives vs large dams 

IP, green groups urge for alternatives vs large dams 

Indigenous and environmental groups have called on the Philippine government to focus on rehabilitating existing water sources and to support decentralized hydro-energy projects, as alternatives to constructing large dams.

The groups made the call during a mass protest action in Quezon City on March 14 coinciding with the observance of the International Day of Action for Rivers and Against Large Dams.

Xandra Bisenio of the Water for the People Network said the government should “rehabilitate existing water sources like the Laguna Lake and Wawa”. 

She also urged the government to support the “construction of decentralized sources of hydropower, citing several micro-hydropower projects and community-based renewable energy systems built in various regions.

“These community-based micro-hydropower infrastructures are built according to the characteristics and needs of the communities and will not submerge them, these are more sustainable and should instead be replicated,” she said. 

According to the Department of Energy in the Philippines, over 400 hydropower projects have been awarded, with the majority being dam-based.

Indigenous group Katribu reiterated its opposition to the construction of large dam projects, asserting that these will exacerbate environmental degradation and threaten the lives and culture of the Indigenous Peoples.

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“Mega-dams threaten the delicate balance of ecosystems and the very survival of communities dependent on these rivers for their livelihoods,” said Beverly Longid, national convenor of the group.

The group underscored the urgency of the situation by highlighting several ongoing dam projects, which Longid argued pose imminent threats to Indigenous communities and biodiversity hotspots throughout the country.

In Apayao, the GENED Hydroelectric Power Project poses a significant threat to the Isnag communities, jeopardizing the safety and livelihoods of the local population and the survival of 105 plants and 51 bird species unique to the region.

Similarly, the Kaliwa Dam project, spanning Rizal and Quezon, endangers the lives of 5,000 Dumagat-Remontado and an additional 100,000 individuals in the vicinity, while also putting 126 species in the Sierra Madre at risk of extinction.

Moreover, projects like the Cabacanan Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Ilocos Norte and the Jalaur Mega Dam Project in Iloilo heighten existing concerns by displacing thousands of Indigenous people and threatening their ancestral lands, underscoring the urgent need for a reevaluation of development priorities.

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