Filipino finalist in lake waste recycling contest

- Benny G. Enriquez () - November 30, 2003 - 12:00am
Laguna Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia, will be the ultimate source of domestic water supply for Metro Manila in the next 10 to 20 years. However, it is getting shallow and polluted due to the proliferation of water hyacinth or water lily and dumping of wastes like young coconut husks, the waste materials of buko pie, that chokes the shorelines and river systems.

Minimizing if not solving these problems is the subject of the project proposal of Santiago R. Baconguis of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB)-DENR, which he submitted to World Bank’s Development Marketplace Global Competition and Knowledge Exchange in Washington DC.

Early this year, the Program launched a global competition for project proposals with the theme "Making Services Work for Poor People." Baconguis submitted a proposal entitled "Utilization of water hyacinth and abandoned coconut biomass in Laguna Lake Basin for household energy, carbon dioxide mitigation and poverty alleviation."

This year, the Development Marketplace conducted a competitive selection process. More than 2,700 proposals were submitted from 133 countries. After being reviewed by six to nine assessors in two rounds of assessment, 186 were chosen as finalists and one of these was Engr. Baconguis’ proposal.

The proposed project involves cleaning Laguna Lake of waste materials, and converting them into environment-friendly charcoal briquettes. The use of water hyacinth and abandoned coconut biomass for producing charcoal briquettes as inexpensive household fuel will clean both the inland and lake environments and improve fishery resources.

It will also reduce cutting of trees for fuelwood and charcoal. For every ton of charcoal briquettes produced, 75 to 88 trees of about 10 cm diameter breast height (dbh) are saved. Some 1.3 hectares of water hyacinth are removed from the lake, and 0.14 hectare of forest plantation could be saved. Charcoal from these wastes would help mitigate carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere and in the process generate livelihood for the inhabitants, thus alleviating poverty in the Laguna Lake basin. Improving the income of the poor through the charcoal briquetting business will enhance the local microeconomy and the living standard of the near-shore lake population.

Baconguis was invited by John Wilton, Vice President of World Bank, to defend his project proposal to a grand jury organized by the World Bank. His proposal including the other finalists will undergo one more round of assessment. Afterwhich, the grand jury will select about 40 projects for funding. The finalists will present the project to the Grand Jury on December 3-4, 2003 in Washington, D.C.

BACONGUIS BACONGUIS OF THE ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BUREAU DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE GLOBAL COMPETITION AND KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE GRAND JURY JOHN WILTON LAGUNA LAKE LAGUNA LAKE BASIN LAKE MAKING SERVICES WORK WORLD BANK
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