Water scarcity hits 16 Iloilo towns

This creek in Barangay Malitbog Ilawod, Bingawan, Iloilo, once a community source of water, is now dried up because of the El Niño phenomenon. (Rex Girao Jr. Photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

A total of 444 barangays across 16 towns in Iloilo province are facing water scarcity due to the drought caused by El Niño.

The affected towns include Badiangan, Barotac Nuevo, Balasan, Bingawan, Concepcion, Dingle, Dueñas, Leganes, Lemery, Leon, Maasin, Miag-ao, New Lucena, Pototan, San Dionisio, and San Rafael.

Cornelio Salinas, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), noted that some areas have been experiencing water shortages since January.

Leon was particularly hard-hit, with all of its 85 barangays affected.

The crisis has impacted 265,901 residents across the affected barangays.

The largest affected populations are in Leon with 39,475 residents; Balasan with 39,414; and Dingle with 39,350.

Many water pumps and deep wells have dried up due to the drought.

Consequently, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan declared the province under a state of calamity during its May 14 session, a decision ratified by the PDRRMC on April 29.

Following the declaration, the provincial board approved the allocation of a P61 million quick response fund (QRF), with an additional P15 million for emergency responses to support the affected farmers and residents.

Iloilo, being one of the hardest-hit areas in Western Visayas, reported agricultural damages amounting to P1.025 billion as of April 26.

According to PDRRMC records, the devastation includes 12,069.49 hectares of rice fields, 4,651.90 hectares of corn, and 2,007.81 hectares of high-value crops, affecting 23,699 farmers.

Prior to Iloilo’s declaration, 15 of the province’s 42 towns and one component city had already declared local states of calamity.

These are the towns of Sara, Estancia, Bingawan, Dingle, Balasan, San Dionisio, Lemery, Banate, Barotac Viejo, Ajuy, Mina, Janiuay, Calinog, and Sta. Barbara, and Passi City.

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