Naga River rehab projects gets grant from regional fund
NAGA CITY, Philippines—This city is getting a step closer to carrying out a plan to revive the Naga River following receipt of a $321,000 grant from Cities Development Initiatives to Asia (CDIA), a regional development fund, to finance a pre-feasibility study.
Karin Eberle, CDIA team leader, said the grant to Naga City was the fastest donation approved by CDIA since its establishment in 2007 by the Asian Development Bank and Germany, with additional funds from Sweden, Austria, Spain and the Shanghai People’s Municipal Government.
“We’ve never experienced fast efficient process” except from Naga City, said Eberle in a press conference over the weekend here.
She said Naga City got the nod of CDIA because of its track record in good governance and transparency practices. The size of the city and its development plan and disaster risk management plan were also considered before its application for a CDIA grant was approved, she added.
More importantly, she said, the CDIA noted the importance of the river revitalization project to the cultural heritage of Naga City, one the five oldest settlements in the country, having been established in 1586.
The Naga City River Revitalization Program (NRRP) was put together by the local government initiate revival and enhancement of the natural ecosystem of the storied Naga River, which has been severely polluted over the years.
Bicol culture and heritage
Mayor John Bongat said the project will help boost the pride of Bicolanos and Nagueños all over the world due to the significance of the river to Bicol culture and heritage, being the site of the yearly fluvial procession in honor of the patroness of Bicolandia, Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, which marks the end of the week-long fiesta held in September.
The Peñafrancia fiesta, which marks its 300th anniversary this year, reportedly draws around three million devotees and pilgrims from all over the world and is already dubbed as the biggest celebration of Marian devotion in Asia.
Eberle said the financing of the pre-feasibility study for Naga River rehabilitation project is covered by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammernarbeit (GIZ) funds at the disposal of CDIA.
She said the pre-feasibility study will deal with integrated concerns in river revitalization, including drainage, solid waste disposal, water treatment facility and infrastructure.
Eberle said the CDIA grant to Naga City is the second grant in the Philippines. The first one was for Iloilo City which received a grant to build a central terminal.
The conduct of the pre-feasibility study of the Naga River revitalization project would be done by several foreign and local consultants over a period of six months.
Eberle pledged to continuously provide assistance to Naga City in finding money for the river rehabilitation project.
From the result of the pre-feasibility study, local proponents hope to package independently specific components of the revitalization project, with detailed costing, which can be offered to investors.
Covering a wide-range of concerns, the Naga River revitalization project aims to improve livelihood, reduce disaster casualties, promote environmental consciousness and tourism, enhance the river’s aesthetic and historical value and create alternative water-based transportation.
In the same occasion, Bongat announced that the national government through the Department of Budget and Management has committed P60 million for infrastructure projects in the river area.
Bongat said the Naga River revitalization project has already secured endorsement from the National Economic Development Administration in which the infrastructure components are to be given priority in the 2012 national budget.
He said the budget for the infrastructure components of the Naga River revitalization project will be sourced from the budget of the Department of Tourism.
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