By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
THE severe effects of El Niño will be felt in almost all parts of Western Visayas by April 2019, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA).
“Almost all of the provinces in the region will experience dry spell and drought by April brought about by the El Niño phenomenon,” said Ronaldo Naragdag, weather specialist of PAGASA.
El Niño is the warm phase of ENSO or El Niño-Southern Oscillation. It refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.
According to PAGASA, drought is defined as three consecutive months way below normal rainfall condition (>60% reduction from average rainfall) while dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition (21-60% reduction from average rainfall).
Based on the climate outlook of PAGASA, three areas in Visayas namely Bohol, Cebu, and Southern Leyte will experience dry spell while 13 provinces namely, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern, and Western Samar will experience drought by the end of April.
Naragdag said that the El Niño that is hitting the country and Western Visayas is not yet “full blown” and is categorized as “weak” El Niño.
While they expect the El Niño to heighten by April, PAGASA said the El Niño will subside in the following months particularly in June.
“Ang April ang pinakabalantayan gid pero makita naton based sa aton findings nga by May and June ga-amat amat na siya balik sa normal,” Naragdag said.
On Friday, a Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment was conducted by the Regional Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) to discuss the status and preparations of various agencies for the El Niño phenomenon.
Based on the report of Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas, about 547.52 hectares of rice areas were affected in municipalities of Patnongon and Culasi, Antique with an estimated loss at P10, 427, 749.80.
In Iloilo, El Niño also affected 2,109 hectares of rice farms since December 2018.
Particularly, municipalities of Leon, Alimodian, Badiangan, Janiuay, Pototan, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Dingle, San Rafael, Ajuy and Lemery also suffered from “dry spell” because of El Niño.
The validated loss in Iloilo is already at P68,069,924, according to DA-6.
Recently, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC)-6 reported a P6.11 million worth of rice crops in the seven barangays in Cauayan, Negros Occidental were also lost due to the dry spell.
On March 22, the mayor of Bingawan, Iloilo asked the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) to declare a state of calamity in their town to aid the farmers affected by El Nino using their calamity fund.
Mayor Mark Palabrica said rice losses in Bingawan is already at P24 million affecting roughly 2, 015 farmers.
“Almost 8,060 people in our town is possibly suffering from El Niño that’s over 50 percent of our town’s total population of 15,199,” he said.
A province can declare a state of calamity upon the recommendation of the governor, which will be followed by a resolution from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, based on the reports of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC).
Currently, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) already transferred P2.5 million worth of fund to the DA-6 for the conduct of cloud seeding.
However, the province is yet to be subjected for a joint assessment by the agriculture department and BSWM.
DA-6 also prepositioned buffer seed stocks which will be distributed to the affected farmers during the first cropping season.
As of January 31, 2019, 11, 194 bags of certified palay seeds and 7, 961 hybrid palay seeds are prepositioned by the agriculture department.
Moreover, 3, 273 bags of open pollinated varieties and 3, 894 hybrid seeds of corn are also available.
The DA-6 through the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Unit and the Agricultural Program Coordinating Offices (APCOs) continues to conduct monitoring and validation of damages and other possible impacts of the weak El Niño in the region.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 6 has 11, 338 food packs prepositioned for local government units (LGUs) who will ask for relief augmentations.
Aside from food packs, Renante Lasay, program development officer III of DSWD-6, said that their department also has a stand-by fund of P3 million.
DSWD’s family food pack includes six kilograms of rice and six canned goods.
Non-food items are also available for disasters other than the dry spell.
This include dignity kits at 2, 037 kits; sleeping kits at 2, 446 sets; blanket at 1284 pieces; plastic mats at 1, 516; mosquito nets at 1351; and clothing packs at 2, 967 packs.