CAMIGUIN (PIA)–To prepare and respond effectively to the anticipated impacts of an El Niño phenomenon, the provincial government here convened the province’s agriculturists and local disaster risk reduction and management officers for an information education campaign, June 6, at the Multipurpose Hall, New Capitol Building, here.
Representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provided inputs on how the local government units of the province’s five towns could ensure the well-being and resilience of their respective communities.
With their constant monitoring, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the country is under “El Niño Alert,” which is issued when conditions are favorable with a 70% chance or more of El Niño development within the next two months.
“El Niño is an occurring event, sige na siya og balik every 2 to 7 years mubalik gyud na siya. Daghan pud impact sa El Niño, tanan, sa pagkaon, sakit, sa mga crops, naay mga pests, mga lamok, ulan, bagyo,” said Anianita Fortich, PAGASA senior weather specialist, during the Alerto radio program.
(El Niño is an occurring event; it keeps on coming back every 2 to 7 years; it will definitely come back. There are also many impacts of El Niño, everything, be it food, diseases, crops, pests, mosquitoes, rain, or typhoons)
She added that from June to October 2023, the majority of the provinces in northern Mindanao are projected to experience near-normal rainfall, while in November, the provinces in the region are likely to experience below-normal rainfall.
Following PAGASA’s weather forecast, DA-10 reported that they have identified drought-prone areas in the province that include 4 hectares of rice and 517 hectares of corn.
They have also planned out programs and activities amounting to P61 million based on the El Niño warning system, and these include the prepositioning of seed reserves, planting materials, drugs, biologics, and pesticides, as well as the inventory and prepositioning of pumps. They also target saving vulnerable areas through appropriate water management.
In maximizing and optimizing production in non-threatened areas, the department adjusts the planting calendar during the wet season to avoid typhoons, and they mark June as the time for planting and balanced fertilization.
Aside from promoting early planting for the dry season in water-deficit areas, DA-10 also suggests crop diversification, intercropping, and livestock integration. Also, based on the availability of funds, they will rehabilitate affected areas through the provision of agricultural inputs and the replacement of animal casualties.
Ensuring health during phenomenon
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Magnolia Naman said El Niño may cause an increase in water-borne diseases like cholera and vector-borne disease outbreaks like malaria and dengue. Infectious diseases such as measles and meningitis may also affect a large number of people in the province.
Thus, they enforce the provision of vaccines for cholera, flu, pneumococcal, typhoid, COVID, and measles. “We also do regular and emergency monitoring of water reservoirs to maintain acceptable water,” Naman said.
The health office will also provide water purification tablets and build septic tanks for the disposal of human excreta while following sanitation standards.
Protecting the environment
Recent fire occurrences in the province include portions of Mahinog, particularly in Barangay Owakan; Barangays Alga, Sto. Niño, Mainit, and Bonbon (Old Volcano); and Sitio Cantimbay, Pandan, in Mambajao.
Noting these incidents, Roberto Rufino, OIC PENRO of DENR Camiguin, said they took the lead in identifying and mapping fire-prone areas, conducting community education and public awareness, and preparing and installing fire prevention signs or billboards.
For fire preparedness, they work on the organization and training of fire suppression crews or volunteers, the procurement or manufacture of fire tools, the installation of communication systems and facilities, the construction of fire breaks and fuel breaks, and training and orientation on incident command systems.
On fire detection, DENR proposed the construction of a fire lookout tower, the training and deployment of fire lookout and fire suppression crews, and the deployment of foot and mobile patrols.
“Mutuo ta ug dili ibalewala once na muingon na mi og El Niño na karon nga bulan, particularly last quarter sa tuig until first quarter sa 2024,” Fortich said as she reminded the government agencies and communities to constantly heed the warning issued by PAGASA.
(Let’s believe and not ignore once we say El Niño this month, particularly the last quarter of the year until the first quarter of 2024). (RTP/PIA-10/Camiguin)