El Niño to exit, La Niña to come soon

The El Niño phenomenon is expected to end soon, which will be replaced by La Niña.

Before this happens, the normal rainfall is due by the second half of May or first half of June 2016.

El Niño’s climatic indicators in the Philippines include early termination and delayed onset of the rainy season. It is associated with warmer surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific region.

On the other hand, La Niña that is characterized by the cooling of the water in the equatorial Pacific is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns, including  anomalies in rainfall, temperature, and tropical cyclone activities.

Because both extremes, El Niño and La Niña, are already part of the new normal, government units have taken the steps to mitigate or cushion the impact.

This brings the Cebu Provincial Capitol’s frontline departments together, under the leadership of re-elected Gov.  Hilario Davide III, to plan and prepare for these extreme weather conditions.

The planning was meant to give focus to resiliency so the extreme weather conditions need not leave behind a trail of loss or  destruction everytime.

These Capitol frontliners recently firmed up both El Niño and La Niña plans of action and recommended solutions.

These frontliners are Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Provincial Engineering Office, Provincal Agriculture Office, Provincial General Services Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Health Office, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Provincial Information Office, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, and Provincial Veterinarian’s Office.

In a recent meeting, frontline office representatives presented activities, some of which already have budgets while the other are awaiting funds.

These activities are part of the plans and recommended solutions that will be presented to the Provincial Board for approval, with the appropriate supplemental budget.

The same meeting also tackled how El Niño is affecting Cebu’s agriculture sector.

Crops division chief Virgilio Jakosalem of the Provincial Agriculture Office reported  a P158.8-million damage to crops because of the El Niño.

The corn sector alone indicated 44.9 percent losses, affecting 6,670 farmers. At the same time, 2,200 out of 2,800 hectares of corn has been damaged by the phenomenon.

Twelve local government units (LGUs) reported their corn loss.

The rice commodity suffered lower losses with just 171 out of 187.4 hectares of planted area damaged.

Jakosalem added that high value crops sustained the highest  damage or 70 precent of the total damage to agriculture. High value crops include vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, legumes, and root crops.

The fisheries sector likewise was not spared from the El Niño with P3.9 million in losses. Fishes in cages, such as tilapia and bangus are also affected, said Jakosalem.

On the other hand, livestock sustained P5.5 million in partial damages.

Mitigating measures are in place already. Some are subject for review for improvements.

Jakosalem’s report was just one of the presentations during the meeting. Other topics included  food storage, sanitation, nutritious food preparations, warehousing and inventory, logistics, manpower, fuel allocation and procurement. All these have been considered among the important components of disaster preparedness.

With water as a problem, short-term intervention discussed involves child-friendly measures, such as water containers that children can carry when helping the adults at home store water.

The community can also develop reliable water sources or turn to water catchment with the help of the LGU.

Farmers can undergo training to address plant diseases during the dry spell. PHO can also make sure medicines for common ailments are available in the provincial hospitals and that continued education campaign against heat stroke and diseases is conducted.