Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WFP expands disaster program in Mindanao to include Climate Change Adaptation

The lack of preparedness for disasters as serious and widespread as typhoons Sendong and Pablo has resulted to massive devastation and to make sure it does not happen again, the World Food Program (WFP) has expanded its Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR) Programme in Mindanao by adding the Climate Change Adaptation Component (CCA).

“This new focus complements WFP’s aim of strengthening the resilience of local government and communities,” WFP Representative and Country Director Praveen K. Agrawal said Tuesday. He said this also supports the provisions of Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act as well as the priorities of the national Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).

The CCA component of the DPR Programme will be piloted in three cities in Mindanao and one city in the Visayas including Davao, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo.

WFPA has launched in June 2013 a one year CCA project in Davao City on “Utilizing Upland Micro-Catchment Water Harvesting Technology” in order to stabilize the slopes and catch rainwater for upland agriculture.

Mr. Agrawal said 10 Micro-Catchment Water Harvesting Systems will be set up in 20 hectares of sloping farms in Davao integrating the Sloping Agricultural Land technology. Under this technology, multi-cropping and riverbank development will be used as comprehensive approaches to ensure the protection and management of the upland environmental ecosystem.

“This is a joint activity with the local government and we are now in the preparation and development stage where we identify the priorities as needed by the communities,” he said. When asked about the total cost of the CCA project in Davao, he said the cost is not important because it can always be adjusted to reflect what the communities really need.

Mr. Agrawal said “We can say the project is worth $100 but what if what is needed is really $1000? Let’s see what the communities really needs and then we will support it.”

The city, which has continuously experienced its own share of flooding in the past years, is also enhancing its flood monitoring system. Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office Chief Pepito Capili said eight water measurement equipment has been installed last month through the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Project Noah. The equipment were installed along the Suawan River, Tamugan, Davao River, Pangi Bridge, Mintal Bridge, Wangan Bridge and Wangan Bridge. Also included are two rain gauges to be installed in Biao which contributes to the Pangi Water System and Baguio Proper.

The city is also in the process of constructing the wireless telemetry system and upgrading the installation of cameras in the city’s major bridges which will provide the Disaster Operations Center with a visual electronic monitoring system to monitor the condition of the rivers.

In Butuan City, Sago Palms and other indigenous trees and shrubs will be used to establish a 10-kilometer long buffer zone or ecobelt along the waterways of the Lower Agusan River to cover three flood-prone barangays. Sago Palms are known to withstand intense typhoon winds, drought and prolonged flooding. These plants can also prevent soil erosion as it has a root system that can trap silt.

WFP plans to raise the level of awareness in the community on the importance of planting Sago Palms to combat the ill effects of climate change in order to ensure the continuity of the initiative.

Cagayan de Oro City, one of the hardest hit cities during typhoon Sendong, is also one of the beneficiaries of the CCA project.  The project will specifically answer the city’s unique problem as it is not only faced by flooding problems but it is also faced by water scarcity during droughts.

WFP will also install 80 community-based roof catchment rainwater harvesting units in 40 duplex dwellings in the city. Up to 160 families are set to benefit from the domestic water source to be provided under the CCA project.

“While improving access to water, the systems will also help reduce rainfall surface run-off,” WFP’s project primer said. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will be asked to certify community members for the construction and maintenance of the rainwater harvesting systems.

WFP will join forces with the Ateneo Innovation Center in Iloilo City for the construction and installation of “community-based sustainable solar-powered rainwater harvesting facilities in public locations to improve storage and treatment of rainwater for potable use during periods of excess rain and emergencies.”

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