May 23, 2024

The government is ramping up efforts to temper the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, which now affects 41 provinces in the country.

Task Force El Niño Chair, Defense Sec. Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr., emphasized the importance of the collective effort of government agencies in addressing the impacts of drought.

“Secretary Teodoro called on the members of the task force to work closely and ensure coordinated efforts, not just for El Niño but also for other emergency and disaster concerns,” the Office of Civil Defense said.

Teodoro also noted the need to strengthen public information to engage people in preparedness measures.

The Task Force El Niño was reactivated and reconstituted under Executive Order (EO) 53, which took effect on Jan. 19.

Based on the latest assessment of the Pagasa, the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Masbate, Oriental Mindoro, Antique, Biliran, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Samar, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi are now experiencing dry condition.

The areas under a dry spell are Abra, Aurora, Bataan, Isabela, Metropolitan Manila, Occidental Mindoro, Quirino, Rizal, Zambales, and Negros Occidental while those under drought conditions are Apayao, Benguet, Cagayan, Cavite, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, La Union, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, and Pangasinan.

The Pagasa, however, noted the number of affected provinces is less than the 50 areas recorded based on its Jan. 21 assessment.

Despite the reduction, the task force would reinforce preparedness efforts due to the strong and mature El Niño that is expected to continue this month and is likely to persist until May.

Lead agencies, such as the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Energy, Health, and Agriculture, presented situation updates and interventions on the water, public safety, energy, and health sectors, and food security, respectively.

The DENR, the lead on water security, reported the water supply from dams would be sufficient until May.

Despite this projection, the public is still highly advised to conserve water.

The DENR continues to monitor water supply sources and has been working on the establishment of alternative water sources to prevent shortages.

The DILG, on the other hand, is continuously implementing programs and activities on environmental protection at the community level, law and order, and fire safety.

On energy security, the DOE said interventions to ensure adequate energy supply are continuously being undertaken.

These include the implementation of transmission projects, ensuring the integrity and reliability of the power grid, and enjoining the electric power industry to actively take part in El Niño mitigation efforts.

Meanwhile, the DOH reported that no disease outbreak has been caused by El Niño but the department continuously ensures the readiness of health facilities.

On food security, the DA presented its priority interventions, which include water management, social protection for farmers and fisherfolk, including livelihood support and financial assistance, and price monitoring.

The Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Information and Communications Technology will work closely to ensure the effective use of the El Niño online platform. – PNA