Agencies advise public, bare El Niño preparedness plans

Executives of three government agencies and a water utility bare their preparedness plans and gave tips to the public in the wake of the El Niño phenomenon in a press briefing at the Provincial Information Office (PIO) last June 16.

The Cebu Information Center of the Philippine Information Agency Region 7 (PIA Cebu Infocen 7), in cooperation with the Provincial Information Office, gathered together Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 Research and Regulation Regional Technical Director Joel Elumba and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Bohol-Cebu Irrigation Management Office Acting Division Manager Norma Monisit,
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 7 (BFAR 7) Fisheries Production Division Chief Tiburcio Donaire and Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) Public Affairs Department Manager Charmaine Rodriguez-Kara were in the first of a series of press briefings to give advice to better prepare the public for the impending El Niño phenomenon and possibly help mitigate its effects.

Elumba revealed that the DA has started preparations in the last quarter of 2013 and continued its efforts to mitigate the effects of the natural occurrence. The agency advised farmers to stock seeds of drought resistant varieties of crops or those that thrive with less water consumption, such as corn, rice, cassava, mongo, and squash.

It is likewise strengthening its feedback mechanisms from farmers on the actual situations in their localities. Some 71 vulnerable areas in Central Visayas were identified, most of which are in Cebu and Bohol followed by Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

Livestock and poultry had to be sheltered well with mineral and vitamin supplementations and anti-stress capabilities.

Forage preservation and hay-making production are also encouraged to have reserve feeds for livestock consumption in the dry season.

The National Irrigation Administration announced that dams in the region are monitored and so far the water levels of five out of 10 reservoirs have decreased but have not reached alarming levels.
The BFAR had noted fish production reduction in Bohol and had warned the public to be vigilant once the dry spell sets in as this is the time when marine resources get contaminated by the so-called red tide.

Meanwhile, the MCWD advised the public to store water at nighttime when water usage is not that high so as not to be disrupted by low pressure when consumption is at high levels especially in the morning.

It likewise reiterated its call for water conservation despite the onset of the rainy season so that water supply in both the Buhisan Dam and Jaclupan Weir will still have enough supply when the dreaded El Niño strikes in the second half of the year. (Rodz Serna)