Sarangani braces for El Niño

ALABEL, Sarngani, Mar. 20-- Frontline offices of the provincial government are preparing to counter the impacts of the dry spell which most likely would hit the 2nd district towns of the province, according to Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) officer-in-charge Jonathan Duhaylungsod.

The 2nd district towns are Malungon, Glan, Malapatan and Alabel, the provincial capital.

The OPAG conducted a meeting on March 6 together with the municipal agriculturists regarding the areas already hit by the dry spell. “We have just met with the municipal agriculturists to assess how far the damage is,” Duhaylungsod said.

Activities lined up in the El Niño Inter-agency Preparedness Plan include: Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign and monitoring of heat-related illness/disease, IEC on water sanitation and hygiene, introduction and recommendation of planting of drought-resistant crops, pest and diseases control and prevention, installation of supplement irrigation using open surface pump, and cloud seeding. 

“Ang isa pud ka preparation nato is that I’ve gotten a budget from the 5% calamity fund last 2017, then nagpalit tag 7 units of water pump,” Duhaylungsod added. 

According to Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Rene Punzalan, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has already issued a climate outlook last 2018 wherein all local government units (LGU) are to prepare for the forecasted occurrence of El Niño. 

“Bawat LGU meron ng plan na dapat i-implement sa kanilang area. Here in Sarangani, we also have our own plan to augment sa ating mga munisipyo. Meron tayong mga different activities, like regular monitoring ng ating weather,” Punzalan said. 

Punzalan said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, together with the OPAG, is now conducting an IEC campaign in the municipalities of Sarangani on the effects of El Niño on agriculture, fishery, and livestock. 

“So ngayon meron na tayong mga IEC materials sa mga munisipyo para sila at their own level will conduct IEC as well para sa mga to be affected sectors like farmers and fisher folks na hangga’t maaari mabigyan sila ng knowledge about the possible effects of El Niño sa kanilang agricultural crops,” he said. 

Punzalan also said that this El Niño Inter-agency Preparedness Plan is already signed and approved by Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon and is ready for execution. 

Punzalan pointed out that the main goal of this preparedness plan “is only to minimize or mitigate the effects sa ating mga agricultural crops, kasi hindi naman natin totally ma-control or ma-stop ang El Niño.” 

El Niño or the long dry spell is expected to be experienced in the 1st quarter of 2019 starting January and during the summer season. 

Meanwhile, PAGASA has already released a weather advisory that said the most affected places and highly vulnerable to El Niño are Western Mindanao including Zamboanga Peninsula and some parts of Luzon and Visayas, which has now been declared in a state of calamity. 

“Even though yun ang forecast ng PAGASA, hindi natin maiaalis yan na posible ma-aapektuhan din tayo pero we expect na hindi ganun ka-grabe yung damage, kasi neighboring provinces lang natin yang mga lugar na yan,” Punzalan said. 

Also, the PDRRMO is set to conduct a full council meeting on March 18 to discuss further the province's preparations for this year’s dry spell. (Jori Mae Samillano/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE) [photo from Sarangani Province page]