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Taraka, Lanao del Sur. Photo by MinDA.

by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

One of the oldest and poorest towns in Lanao del Sur has taken a giant stride to address the needs of its people by availing of a P218-M loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines to build Solar-Powered irrigation and Water Systems.

Half of the loaned amount will be utilized to buy infrastructure equipment to build the town's own road networks and other facilities.

The Taraka Solar-Powered Irrigation and Water Supply Project is the first project initiated by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and its funding partner, the Development Bank of the Philippines, with the support of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments.

The program, which I personally designed as MinDA Chairman and launched on Dec. 6, aims to address one of the most basic needs of people in rural Mindanao - water both for household use and agriculture.

Taraka is an old town through which the Taraka River runs through towards Lake Lanao.

For ages, howerever, people have relied on the river for their household water needs while rice farmers who till about 2,000 hectares of rich farmlands could plant only once a year because there is no irrigation system.

Taraka Mayor Nashida Gandarma-Sumagayan and her husband, Vice Mayor Odin Sumagayan, enrolled their town in the Mindanao Water Siupply Program or MinDA and applied for a loan with DBP to finance the projects.

During the signing of the loan documents in Taraka last week, an emotional Mayor Nashida said that the move to provide safe drinking water to their people and irrigation water for their farmers has been a long dream of the town.

MinDA will now assist Taraka in the organization and operationalization of an Economic Enterprise Office to manage the projects obtained through the loan program.

Other agencies will also be tapped to support the effort to lift people out of poverty and provide them with safe household water and make Taraka as a model of a Self-Reliant Local Government and Rural Development in the Bangsamoro Area.

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