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World Vision plans relief, rehab package for Guimaras

September 17, 2006

Oil spill damages environment and livelihoods
by Diwa Aquino-Gacosta
World Vision* Philippines Communications

THE oil spill from sunken tanker MT Solar I continues to devastate the environment, killing not only the rich marine resources of the Philippines coast, but the livelihoods of the people dependent on the sea as well.

According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, US$1.14 million worth of marine resources in fish cages and fish pens have been destroyed. The tourism industry in Guimaras and Iloilo has also slowed. The Department of Tourism has projected US$71,400 worth of lost tourism revenue.

To date, the oil spill has contaminated 245 kilometres of coastline and spoiled 1,143 hectares of marine reserve.

More than 6,000 families located in six municipalities in Guimaras and Iloilo have been affected by the oil spill.

“Women have stopped gathering shells while men can no longer fish because of the oil spill in Guimaras,” a World Vision assessment reported. Fishermen are being hired to clean up the oil that reached the shorelines.

“Worse, even the areas in Guimaras and Iloilo not directly hit by the oil spill also suffer the brunt of economic deprivation. People do not want to buy any marine products (fish, shrimps, oysters) that come from Iloilo and Guimaras,” said Viviano Panes, World Vision Philippines Area Development Programme (ADP) coordinator.

Panes said that male teenagers were sighted cleaning up the shorelines in Ajuy without any protective gear. Around 100 families from La Paz in Nueva Valencia, a heavily affected coastal municipality in Guimaras, were evacuated because the oil had reached their houses.

“The stench of oil reaches 100 metres off the shore,” Panes said. He added that children continue to play in their residences despite the foul odour.

World Vision Philippines has prepared a proposal for a 12 month relief and rehabilitation package for the affected areas.

“The proposal also aims to assist authorities and communities to prevent the oil spill from damaging coastal communities and the marine environment along Guimaras Strait. Alternative sources of income that are agriculture-based will also be established,” said Boy Bersales, World Vision Human Emergency Affiairs coordinator.

The tanker is reported to still contain 1.8 million litres of bunker fuel that continues to ooze out. It carried around 2.4 million litres of oil when it sank.

*World Vision is one of the largest international Christian relief and development organizations in the world. Visit its web sites at WV Int’l or WV Phils.

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