The province of Laguna has relatively low exposure to threats of climate change, but its capacity to adapt to typhoons and floods has been found “woefully lacking,” the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study And Research in Agriculture (Searca) said.
A recent study conducted by Searca and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) illustrated this vulnerability—with property damage incurred by households per flooding event hitting at P10,450 (or $261.25 at $1 for P40)—with the recent floods caused by southwest monsoon rains spawned by Typhoon Maring proving that the province has yet to keep in step with climate change resiliency.
Started in May 2011 and to be completed in December 2013, the study is part of a multi-country project entitled “Building Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change in Southeast Asia,” which aims to enhance the capacity of three Southeast Asian countries—Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam—in research, planning and action with regard to climate change adaptation.
In particular, the project aims to build local capacity to adapt to climate change, especially in vulnerability assessment and adaptation analysis, and address the negative impacts of extreme weather events.
The project was under the auspices of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.
The Philippine component of the project focused on 12 flood-prone towns in Laguna while the Vietnam study centered on Thuan Thian Hue, and the Cambodian segment covered Kompong Speu.
The study looked at three factors: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of each municipality under study.
Searca Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. noted that the study in the three countries would show similarities and dissimilarities in adapting to flooding—with Laguna having to contend with the country’s largest lake, Laguna de Bay, with 21 tributaries (17 of which are in Laguna) and only one outlet—Napindan Channel—to Pasig River and then to Manila Bay.
The study covered the towns of Bay, Calauan, Liliw, Los Baños, Magdalena, Majayjay, Nagcarlan, Pagsanjan, Pila, Rizal, Santa Cruz, and Victoria—or about 274 barangays, and 568 square kilometer (sq. km.), with a population of 568,690, or 23 percent of Laguna’s total population.
These towns have experienced flooding and heavy typhoon damage in recent years, and comprise largely agricultural section of Laguna, all of which could be affected when Laguna de Bay could no longer hold the water in its 45,000-sq. km. catchment basin.
“The lake is the most prominent feature of Laguna and the province’s vulnerability to flooding rests on just how deep the lake is, and how much volume of water its only outlet to the sea would let loose,” Saguiguit said.
GIS and mapping study leader Engr. Vicente Ballaran Jr., assistant professor at the UPLB College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology, and other members of the team were able to produce maps of each community’s relative vulnerability to climate change.
Results showed that among the topographic classifications, it came as no surprise that coastal and lowland areas were the most exposed areas to climatic hazards like typhoons and floods.
Likewise, coastal areas were the most vulnerable in terms of sensitivity or the degree to which the community is affected.