Iloilo preps mitigation measures for El Niño

(Photo courtesy of Nana Buxani/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

By John Noel E. Herrera 

The Iloilo Provincial Government is bracing for El Niño through mitigation measures that will lessen the possible impact that the weather phenomenon on the province, especially in the agricultural sector.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said that the provincial government already has existing programs that will mitigate the effects of El Niño, which include its water system projects at the barangay level and small-scale irrigation projects.

“Kay ang aton diri nga measures, embedded dun ni sa (existing) programs naton because it’s about water. Ti, duwa na ka bagay, sa agriculture, and those for domestic (water) consumption,” Defensor said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier announced that El Niño might emerge between June and July at 80 percent probability and persist until the first quarter of 2024.

The governor stressed that the weather phenomenon might have a bigger impact on small-scale farmers, noting that irrigation systems should be prioritized as the farmers depend on them for their field’s water requirements.

Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) chief Dr. Ildefonso Toledo, on the other hand, said that there are already programs like small water impounding and small farm reservoirs being implemented by the provincial government under its small-scale irrigation project.

“These are all up for the assistance para sa aton farmers, incase nga may mga katalagman nga kasubong sini,” Toledo said.

The PAO explained that the programs allowed them to hold back water and develop a reservoir that will store rainfall and run-off during the rainy season for immediate or future use.

Toledo added that they have been implementing the Climate Field School, which started in Dumangas, Iloilo in 2022, where farmers are taught how to use the weather forecast of PAGASA in favor of their farming schedule.

As to the domestic water, Defensor said that the provincial government will be aggressive in implementing water system programs in barangays without access to the Metro Iloilo Water District through its Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program.

The provincial government also eyes to create a taskforce, but Defensor noted that he would first maximize the Provincial Disaster Civil Defense Cluster.