TACLOBAN CITY: The provincial government of Northern Samar is puzzled why poverty incidence in the province has worsened over the past nine years.
Governor Jose Ong said they will conduct a study to find out why more people in the province lived in poverty since 2006 despite government efforts to arrest the decade old problem.
Among the six provinces in the Eastern Visayas, Northern Samar was the poorest during the poverty survey for the first semester of 2015, with an incidence of 61.6 percent, meaning six out of every 10 people in the province were poor.
The figure is higher than the poverty levels in 2006 (54.4 percent), 2009 (52.4 percent) and 2012 (53.1 percent).
Northern Samar is the fourth poorest province in the country, after Lanao del Sur (74.3 percent), Sulu (65.7 percent), and Sarangani (61.7).
“I am worried that numbers will increase since the Philippines Statistics Authority did that survey on the first semester of last year or before typhoon Nona hit us,” Ong said.
Typhoon Nona struck the province in December 2015, affecting 112,655 families, and left a trail of destruction across all sectors amounting to P14.39 billion, according to the post-disaster assessment of the Office of the Civil Defense.
The disaster destroyed 109,206 with a combined cost of P3.18 billion. Nona was considered as the strongest typhoon to hit Northern Samar in 34 years, according to Ong.
The governor, who is in his second term in office, said they expect poverty incidence to increase, with the majority of coconut farmers having lost their main source of income.
Coconut was the second most heavily damaged crop next to rice, with P51.8 million in damage incurred, and 512,402 damaged trees, affecting around 3,700 coconut farmers.
Overall, the farming sector suffered P272.74 million in losses from Nona’s wrath.
“Our main concern is the affected coconut farmers, since it take three to five years for them to recover,” he added.
As a short-term solution, the local government promotes inter-cropping to provide alternative income to badly-affected farmers.
Northern Samar is one of the three provinces in Samar Island. It is a part of the Eastern Visayas region. The province is classified as second class, and has a total land area of 3,498 square kilometers. It is composed of 24 towns and villages, with Catarman as the provincial capital.
Northern Samar is exposed to a range of natural hazards such as storm surges, floods, landslides, liquefaction, earthquakes and tsunamis. About 70 percent of the towns are highly susceptible to these natural hazards.