This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.
Philippines: Addressing Freshwater Conflicts: The LLDA Experience in Laguna de Bay
With over 10 million people living and working in its watershed, Laguna de Bay in the Philippines is a hotbed for conflicts on water allocation and use. Through participation and innovation, the Laguna Lake Development Authority has so far managed to address these conflicts. But will their strategies continue to work against the increasingly complex demands on the lake's resources? A RESOURCE IN DEMAND With over 10 million people living and working in its lake watershed, Laguna de Bay is the setting for many a conflict on water allocation and use. Laguna de Bay is one of the most important natural resource bases of the Philippines; the largest inland body of water in the country. Together with its 380,000-hectare watershed, it is the focal point of national development efforts in agriculture, fishery, water supply, energy, and regional development. This is primarily due to its strategic location, economic and environmental significance, and vast development potentials arising from its multiple uses. The lake itself supports a host of beneficial uses. Thousands of fishermen and their families depend on it for livelihood, and a thriving fishpen industry in the lake contributes approximately 80,000 metric tons of fish annually to the fish supply of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The water resources of the lake, as well as the rivers that drain into it, are used for irrigation, power generation, industrial cooling, recreation, domestic water supply, and a navigational lane to a thriving water transport industry that serves the lakeshore communities. Laguna de Bay is currently the focus of technical studies as a raw water source to supply the drinking water of Metro Manila and residents of adjoining provinces in the immediate future. Over the recent decades, uncontrolled population growth, deforestation, land conversion, intense fisheries, rapid and industrialization and urbanization have produced massive changes in the Laguna de Bay and its watershed. The resulting problems relate to solid waste management, sanitation and public health, congestion of shoreland areas, rapid siltation and sedimentation, unmitigated input of domestic, agricultural and industrial wastes, flood problems and lose of biodiversity, all contributing to decline in water quality.
TOO MANY USERS, TOO CONFLICTING ISSUES The 10 million Filipinos who live and work in the lake watershed are the main users of its invaluable resources. They include the residents of the watershed communities, the farmers and fishermen thriving on the lake water resources and shoreland, and businesses and industries. In addition to these users, the following groups of stakeholders also have a keen interest on the lake: regulators; policy makers and planners; developers (land and water); research and development institutions; and local government units. Aside from uses that serve common good purposes, e.g., irrigation, drinking water, fisheries, recreation and navigation, the lake in recent decades has also served a most controversial purpose— as a receptacle of waste. Examples of the many uses for the lake, and the conflicts that arise, include the following: Fishpen owners have existing conflicts with small fishermen, as well as other users. From 38 hectares in 1970s, fishpens grew to more than 30,000 hectares in 1983, seriously reducing the areas for open fishing and impeding navigation. With the approval by the National Economic Development Authority of the 400 MLD Water Supply Project of the MWSS, the lake's potential as a key source of drinking water will not be far. The use of the lake as a source of drinking water supply will challenge all other uses of the lake. Soil erosion and sedimentation in the lake is exacerbated by quarry operations around the lake and in its watershed, potentially contributing to the lake's pollution. The authorities for permitting, clearance, and enforcement among the institutions involved-- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local government units, Laguna Lake Development Authority— have yet to be streamlined. Informal settlers now make up a large portion of the population in the region. They typically cluster in the flood and pollution-prone locations, particularly the shoreland areas and river banks. The solid waste they generate is carried by the rivers to the lake. Efforts to protect the lake as primarily a protected area have given way in favor of the unavoidable demand for water and fish. However, a small-scale tourism industry still manages to survive in spite of the lake traffic. Tourists visit historical sites and take boat rides to remote eco-tourism pockets where swimming is considered safe.
LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: WORKING TO TURN LAGUNA DE BAY INTO A HEALTHY RESOURCE The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) exercises management and control over the Laguna de Bay region. The LLDA exercises policy and planning, regulatory and developmental functions. It also has exclusive jurisdiction to issue permits and collect fees for the use of the lake water, and discharge of wastewater meeting the standards. The LLDA is a self-sustaining organization. Its operation is financed through income from regulatory fees and fines, laboratory services, resource user's fee (aquaculture operation, water abstraction, and other market-based instruments), and from its corporate investments and marketable securities. As part of its coordinative functions, LLDA deals with 66 local governments from provincial, municipal/city levels, over 30 water-related agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations and institutions, two (2) regional environment and natural resources offices of the DENR. Each of these players has its own mandate and functions as well as programs and projects in or affecting the Laguna de Bay and its watershed. Although LLDA is mandated by law to perform its function as a basin wide authority, it does not have control over all projects affecting the lake and its region. This is primarily due to the overlapping-sometimes even conflicting-mandates and programs of the many agencies, local governments and other entities the LLDA coordinates with. As such, a distinct lack of coherent and harmonized relationship among key stakeholders characterizes the current institutional and management setup for Laguna de Bay. PRACTICING A POLICY OF CONVERGENCE In 1996, a breakthrough in managing the conflicting needs of the water users took place. Key stakeholders adopted the "Convergency Policy", the commonly accepted framework for managing the Laguna de Bay resources characterized by multi-sectoral, multi-level and inter-agency mechanisms, structures, resources and norms. The elements of this policy are as follows: Borne out of the stakeholders' voluntarism and willingness to participate Based on the principles of co-ownership/partnership in the management of the resource and integrated lake management Synergy of roles, resources, capabilities, services and interventions towards sustainable development of natural resources Accountability and sense of responsibility for performance of assigned roles/functions and delivery of committed resources/services Resource value-stakeholders' role complementation From this policy came about the various strategies, measures and tools LLDA adopted to manage conflicts among water users in the lake.
Framework Towards Laguna de Bay Stakeholders Convergence Policy
RESOLVING CONFLICTS ONE BY ONE LLDA adopted a wide range of tools and strategies to address or mitigate the conflicts over water use and allocation in Laguna de Bay. It conducted a thorough analysis of its stakeholders, enabling it to analyze the (i) the motivations and beliefs of the stakeholders; (ii) the stakeholders' resources, capabilities and capacities to participate; (iii) the immediate or long-term effect of the policy on the stakeholders' groups/organizations; and (iv) the groups/organizations' positions. LLDA also began a process of re-engineering itself to enable it to discharge its functions with utmost capacity. A new institutional model premised on integrated water resources management (IWRM) was adopted by the LLDA Board of Directors in 2001. Although the LLDA reorganization is still a long way to go, it is already operating on an IWRM framework. LLDA has also strengthened its ability to resolve disputes through the LLDA Public Hearing Committee (PHC). Through the PHC, LLDA acts as an impartial and neutral third party to facilitate decision making by the contending parties to voluntarily reach mutually acceptable dispute settlement. So far, the PHC works best in cases involving fishkills, oil spills and other similar occurrences in the lake. The PHC as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism functions outside its role as the agency's adjudicatory body. Another strategy also emerged from the fishpen controversy that happened in the 1980s. The fishpen technology was introduced in the lake in the '70s to improve the lives of small fishermen. But big investors came in and, due to the lack of policies that protect marginal fishermen, cornered the gains. The conflicts escalated, culminating in loss of lives and properties in 1983. To resolve the matter, the government regulated aquaculture operation through a zoning and management plan (ZOMAP). Through ZOMAP, areas for specific operations, e.g. fishpen belts, fish cage belts, etc, were designated, and permits were annually issued to fishpen and fish cage owners.
In 1995, the government issued an executive order creating the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMCs) in villages, cities and municipalities. LLDA worked to ensure that these FARMCs serve as venue for meaningful community participation in the management, development and protection of fisheries and aquatic resources. In 1996, LLDA started a River Rehabilitation Program for the rivers and streams flowing through the 24 sub-basins of the Laguna de Bay basin. The program encourages broad multisectoral involvement and support and follows systematic approach that includes (a) mapping the watershed, (b) comprehensive survey of the river system and its watershed, (c) development of a vision for a healthy river system and watershed and (d) based on this vision, formulation of a River Rehabilitation and Protection Plan for the river in focus.
Among the key lessons LLDA had over the past decades are: A central authority for lake and watershed management, with strong policy and regulatory roles, is generally more successful in conflict resolution/mediation than those with coordinating roles only; Political will, commitment among agency heads, and the presence of "champions" are extremely important in managing conflicts; Knowledge and information become meaningful in water conflict resolution when it is shared with, and understood by, stakeholders; Effective water conflict resolution is not afraid to take action; Science-based, well-informed decision is vital because it can be corrected and improved with scientific reasoning and factual analysis; Based on awareness and common understanding of the significance of the natural resources, it is important to secure the trust and confidence of stakeholders. Read the case study. Read River Waste Goes Up in Smoke And Helps Poor Fisherfolk in the Process View map of Laguna de Bay [GIF]
Before: Condition in one of the tributary rivers of Laguna de Bay. Uncontrolled dumping of garbage as shown
After: After the clean -up operation
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE Conflicts over the use of natural resources in the lake and its watershed have grown rapidly. These conflicts have intensified as stakeholders have become more aware of the benefits of the functions and services derived from these natural resources. LLDA works to ensure that the lessons learned from the various approaches and strategies, measures and tools all contribute to knowledge and information building, and to the identification of priority actions to effectively address natural resource-based conflicts in the Philippines.
_______________________________ This summary is taken from Dolora Nepomuceno's paper, Addressing Water Conflicts: The LLDA Experience in Laguna de Bay. Dolora Nepomuceno is the Assistant General Manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA). The views expressed in this article are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. Terminology used may not necessarily be consistent with ADB official terms.
*This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in November 2004: http://www.adb.org/water/actions/PHI/LLDA -water-conflicts.asp. The Country Water Action series was developed to showcase reforms and good practices in the water sector undertaken by ADB’s member countries. It offers a mix of experience and insights from projects funded by ADB and those undertaken directly by civil society, local governments, the private sector, media, and the academe. The Country Water Actions are regularly featured in ADB’s Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.