By Ali Macabalang
LANAO DEL SUR – Officials of Taraka, one of the oldest among 39 towns in this province, are availing of the state-initiated solar-powered waterworks system to the end the age-old reliance of its populace on unsafe water supply from the river.
Mayor Nashida Sumagayan, a former university professor, and her vice mayor-husband, lawyer Amenoding have partnered with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), which will assist the town government in acquiring a P100-million soft loan to fund the project.
MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol and his technical team went to Taraka last January 14, during which the Sumgayans and the visiting official formalized the initial arrangement for the project initially agreed on in Davao City last month.
Taraka, which has 23,644 residents living in 43 barangays, will be the first town in Lanao del Sur and across the Bagsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to avail of the “MinDA Water Program”, Piñol said.
Piñol introduced the solar-powered water works project during his stint in the Department of Agriculture, and continues to pursue the life-enhancing project under MinDA in partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). He took over MinDA in August last year.
Taraka is one of towns in the first district of Lanaa del Sur whose residents have been relying on water supply from three main river tributaries from the 340-square kilometer wide Lake Lanao.
“There was a time (decades ago) when the water from the river was so clean that we used it for drinking, bathing and washing of clothes,” Mayor Sumagayan said.
But with the town’s population growing, the river’s water has become polluted and families have had to boil the water for drinking, while some affluent families have established deep wells powered by diesel engines for their water supply, she added.
Resident-rice farmers presently could only plant once a year because of the absence of an irrigation system. When the solar-powered water works system shall have been installed, they could plant twice a year to earn an additional P200-million annually, according to Piñol.
Taraka is a fourth class municipality with poverty incidence of 66.86 percent, a bitter reality the municipal government wants to address squarely, according to the Sumagayanas.
“We are willing to invest to change the lives of our people,” Mayor Sumagayan said during the Livelihood Orientation Program conducted by MinDA in Taraka on Jan. 14.
This coming Monday, January 20, Sumagayan, alongside 100 leaders and farmers, will inspect a Solar-Powered Irrigation System in Palma Perez, M’lang, North Cotabato, one of over 200 units constructed by the Department of Agriculture in 2019, Pinol said.
Two days later, he said, the mayor and her entourage will meet with the MinDA technical staff and officials of DILG and DBP in Davao City to start working on the financing program for Lanao del Sur’s first version of the project.