SENATE President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda expressed concern and urged the government, private sector, and all citizens to prepare for “hotter and drier days” due to a high probability of El Niño emerging in the coming season and persisting until the first quarter of 2024.
Legarda made the statement when the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) upgraded its warning status to El Niño Alert earlier this month, indicating an 80% probability of El Niño emerging in the June-July-August period.
PAGASA also said that El Niño might increase the likelihood of below-average rainfall conditions, triggering dry spells and droughts in the country.
“During El Niño, the top priorities are water supply and food security. Less rain means less water, which will affect households and businesses. Prolonged droughts and dry spells would also drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugarcane, vegetables, and other agricultural products, as well as fisheries yield,” Legarda explained.
Legarda added that the country’s agricultural adaptation program must be prepared to cushion the effects of El Niño on farmers and fisherfolk who are already burdened by extreme climate events and disasters.
She said there should be “more investments, better forecasting tools and early warning systems, improved water governance and land use policies,” and a strengthened extension system to assist farmers in achieving economic diversification and access to credit for emergencies.
Legarda urged to practice water conservation measures by avoiding excessive water use and reusing water, like gathering and storing rainwater for daily chores, using a water dipper instead of a shower when taking a bath, turning off faucets properly, and immediately repairing leaking pipes and running toilets, among others.
She also stressed that establishing rainwater harvesting facilities in every barangay in the country could be an effective water conservation program.
“We cannot stop this El Niño. But we can take action to ensure water and food supply for our people and sectors. Let’s conserve water and stay hydrated to prevent heat stroke and other health risks. We can surpass this dry season if we consolidate all efforts and adequately prepare for its effects,” Legarda concluded.