ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The City Council on Tuesday, March 5, approved a resolution placing Zamboanga City under a state of calamity due to a dry spell caused by a weak El Niño phenomenon.
In a report on UNTV News and Rescue’s Good Morning Kuya program by Dante Amento, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) Chief Dr. Elmeir Apolinario said the resolution was based on their recommendation after drought affected crops, irrigation for rice fields and water supply in the city.
“We are now under state of calamity by reason of, isa ‘yung advisory ng DOST-PAGASA na weak El Niño and of course, yung facts naman on the ground na there is a water resources problem sa City of Zamboanga. And of course, sa agriculture sector and other sector,” Apolinario said.
The Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) has recently implemented water rationing operations after its daily production declined by 50 percent, from 158 million liters to 80 million liters.
The local agriculturist office, meanwhile, reported that a total of 600 hectares of rice fields have been hit by the dry spell.
With the state of calamity declaration, government agencies can now use the calamity fund to implement mitigating measures, such as cloud seeding operations and leasing of tanks for water distribution, and to procure alternative crops and drilling rigs for affected sectors.
The Zamboanga CDRRMO said P13 million has been allotted for cloud seeding operations while the City Agriculturist office has P20 million to aid drought-affected farmers.
“We are looking at ways forward on how to help our water district in terms of distribution ng tubig, in terms of finding other sources, in terms of having ‘yung mga drilling rigs. Mayroon tayong mga alternative crops, mga vegetables na pwedeng ipamigay sa mga farmers,” Apolinario said.
Meanwhile, 12 towns in North Cotabato have also been placed under state of calamity due to the prevailing heat.
According to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), the affected towns are Carmen, Pikit, Aleosan, Midsayap, Matalam, M’lang, Alamada, Tulunan, Kabacan, Libungan and Pigcawayan.
Local disaster officials have already recommended to the provincial board level the inducement of artificial rain through cloud seeding as well as the procurement of water pumps and other assistance to farmers to save their remaining crops. – Robie de Guzman