LEGAZPI CITY: The Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo) created the “Task Force El Niño” on Monday as part of preparations that would address the impact of drought in the countryside.
The task force, which was organized following the directive of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, will monitor the effects of the El Niño on water supply, food production and possible water borne diseases.
The El Niño phenomenon, according to Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), will affect in the country from October until the middle of 2016.
If a prolonged drought will affect Bicol, specifically in Albay province that has some 27,000 hectares of rice land the region’s food production will be affected.
Albay province has 5,962 hectares of rain-fed rice farms and 20,546 hectares of fully irrigated rice fields. From these farms, rice production of some 220,980 metric tons of palay in two harvest seasons a year is earmarked for 1.2 million residents with.
El Niño is a weather phenomenon in which warmer water from the western Pacific Ocean flows toward the east, disrupting atmospheric systems. It creates a major shift in rainfall, bringing floods and landslides to arid countries and drought to areas in the western Pacific.
Salceda raised the alarm for a possible prolonged drought among Albayanos and told them to brace for the effects.
With this, local disaster councils have been ordered to prepare contingency measures on food security, public health, water and power supply.
In the past 40 years, according to Pagasa officials, the El Niño usually appears every two to seven years but the most intense episode of El Niño took place in 1982 to 1983 due to unusual worldwide effect of prolonged drought.
The Office of Civil Defense in Bicol has reported at least P60 million loss of agricultural crops in the region, specifically in Sorsogon and Masbate.
The Department of Agriculture in the region said the provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate are the hardest hit because of the effects to a vast track of rice land and the farmers are complaining of poor yield due to absence of rain.
Ed Yu, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) regional spokesman, said the dry spell has affected more than 4,000 hectares of irrigated rice lands.
To mitigate the adverse effect of El Niño, the NIA is employing contingency measures to address the pressing problem such as water rationing and massive rehabilitation and repairs of irrigation facilities and structures for better and efficient delivery of water to farms.