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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Task Force El Niño focusing on food security, other concerns

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The government’s Task Force El Niño is closely monitoring various sectors in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive amid the strong El Niño phenomenon now being experienced by the country.

Task Force spokesman and Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama said the group is monitoring food security; water and power supply; as well as health concerns.

According to Villarama, there is reported damage so far in terms of agriculture—in rice and corn, particularly in two regions—Western Visayas and the Zamboanga Peninsula.

There are other regions now affected by the dry spell but authorities have yet to receive a report on the extent of damage to those areas, he added.

In terms of temperature, Villarama said that based on the latest briefer by the state weather bureau last Thursday, the temperature could reach 36.5 degrees in Metro Manila and could go as high as 40 degrees in Nothern Luzon.

Villarama reported during a Malacañang press briefing last Tuesday that there are 41 provinces already affected by El Niño.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary for Disaster Response Management Group (DRMG) Diana Rose Cajipe meanwhile said the DSWD will ensure food security through the prepositioning of family food packs (FFPs) in affected localities.

Special Assistant to the Secretary (SAS) for DRMG and Concurrent Director of National Resource and Logistics Management Bureau (NRLMB) Leo Quintilla said there are 849 warehouses around the country, including 780 identified warehouses of local government units (LGUs) and partners.

“What is important right now is we are doing the relief prepositioning agreement with our local government units. We also provide capacity building to our partners to ensure that we maintain the quality of our food and non-food items prepositioned in their warehouses,” Quintilla said.

The capacity building activities referred to by Quintilla include the monitoring of expiration, tagging, proper storage, and quality checking of FFPs to ensure that the goods being distributed to disaster-affected families are safe to consume.

Aside from the prepositioning of FFPs, the DSWD  pointed out that the DSWD is working with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the United Nations – World Food Programme (UN-WFP) in the implementation of Project LAWA or Local Adaptation to Water Access in selected municipalities from the provinces of Ifugao, Antique, and Compostela in Davao de Oro.

Project Lawa aims to mitigate the impacts of drought and dry spells caused by the El Niño by establishing 90 small farm reservoirs (SFRs) in the selected provinces.

Under the project, residents in the pilot areas are provided with financial support, through the agency’s cash-for-work (CFW) and cash-for-training (CFT), in exchange for the work they rendered in constructing the alternative water resources.

“This is the whole-of-nation, whole-of-government approach just to make sure that no one will be left behind in our assistance, should the effects of El Niño be strongly felt,” the agency said.

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