Legarda: PHL Must Brace for Stronger El Niño

August 18, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda today urged the government to brace for the El Niño phenomenon, which is expected in the remaining months of the year, through effective policies and climate-resilient programs.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced that the El Niño phenomenon in the Philippines may intensify from moderate to strong in the last quarter of 2015 up to the first quarter of 2016.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that during El Niño a leading concern is food security because prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugar cane, vegetables and other agricultural products. It can also cause a decrease in fisheries yield.

The Senator noted that the government, particularly the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), has announced that it has already adopted several measures to mitigate the impact of El Niño such as the Quick Turn Around Scheme, wherein the planting of 2015 first crop was done immediately after harvest of 2014 second crop; adaptation of water-saving technologies, water distribution rotation, and rainwater harvesting; and planting of early-maturing and drought-tolerant rice varieties.

She stressed that the establishment of rainwater harvesting facilities in every barangay in the country could be an effective water conservation program.

“We are already experiencing hotter temperature, but rain showers occur every now and then. A rainwater catchment system could avoid or decrease the volume of flood when it rains and the rainwater collected could be used during the dry season when there is water shortage. These catchment systems can be built using low-cost local materials,” she said.

Legarda said that the creation of rainwater catchment basins has long been mandated by law. Republic Act No. 6716 was enacted in 1989 that requires the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the country.

She also said that communities should practice water conservation measures by avoiding excessive water use and reusing water, like gathering and storing rainwater for daily chores, using water dipper instead of shower when taking a bath, turning off faucets properly, and immediately repairing leaking pipes and running toilets, among others.