CEBU CITY: Eleven million pesos worth of aid is now being procured by the Cebu Provincial Government to aid areas heavily affected by the dry spell caused by the ‘mild’ El Niño.
Of this, P2 million is allotted for school supplies, P4 million for agriculture while P5 million is also being requested for the purchase of 2 water tankers.
“The tankers will serve areas that need them and will not be given to a specific LGU (local government unit) on a permanent basis,” Ethel Natera, the province’s Public Information Office head, explains.
Last May 25, 2015, the Cebu provincial board issued a resolution declaring the province under state of calamity to prepare for and mitigate the effects of the dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon that might affect the province.
The declaration enables giving assistance to the affected local government units, as well as families and individuals, whose livelihood is affected.
The weather bureau in Cebu has announced a ‘mild’ El Niño but warned that the situation could worsen in the coming months.
There is also a 30-million-peso quick response fund. Currently, the province is distributing food packs and seeds and seedlings that are already on stand by.
“Assistance will be given to all towns in Cebu but the most affected towns will be given priority,” says Baltazar Tribunalo, Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management head.
With the entry of the month of June, the Cebu provincial government started the distribution of food packs in Barili town, south Cebu. Residents of Barangays Balao and Budbud, whose water sources have dried up due to the lesser amount of rainfall and hotter temperature in the last two months, were given a total of 997 food packs.
The food packs contained three kilos of rice, four packs of noodles, two canned goods and two bottles of water.
Vegetable seeds like ampalaya, kangkong, tomato, eggplant, string beans and chili were also distributed. According to Acting Provincial Agriculturist Dr. Roldan Saragena, these are short-duration crops and can withstand dry spell.
“These are just short-term steps of the province to lessen the hardships,” Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said.
Currently, eight towns have already been declared under state of calamity. These are the towns of Tabuelan, Tuburan, Borbon, Argao, Asturias, Alcantara, Moalboal, and Carmen.
“The assistance will be given out in three phases,” Tribuna-lo explains.
First, there will be distribution of relief packs of food and water as well as school supplies to upland and lowland areas in each town and city.
Then, water tanks will be sent to affected areas to provide water supply while water-impounding facilities are being planned that would serve as water storage whenever rain comes. The construction of such facilities will be coursed through a cash-for-work program for affected residents.
“The El Niño has caused our farmers to lose their livelihood, their income. This cash-for-work will serve as emergency employment for them,” expressed Tribunalo.
On the third phase, a nearby plant nursery comes into place. According to Tribunalo, water will be distributed to lower areas through gravity while water supply distributed to upland areas through water pumps.
Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Cebu has released an “oratio imperata” or a special prayer for rain to pour on Cebu.