ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Citing the adverse effects of the continuing drought, the city council on Wednesday, April 1, approved the declaration of Zamboanga City under a state of calamity, and authorized the release of funds for mitigation measures.
According to the partial crop and fishery damage report by city agriculturist Diosdado Palacat, as of March 30, the damage due to the dry spell and bush fires were already at P132.54 million ($3 million) with over 8,924 hectares of land planted with rice, corn, assorted vegetables, banana, rubber, cassava and coconut affected.
Of the total 25 irrigation dams in the city, Palacat also reported that 9 have dried up, 6 are in critical condition while 10 are below the normal water level.
Engineer Al Alfonso of the ZCWD also reported that the water level at the Pasonanca intake has reached the critical level of 73.9 as of March 30.
The declaration, recommended by the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), will hasten the conduct of cloud seeding operations, the foremost mitigating measure endorsed by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management Team that came over to assess the situation last week.
In a report in May 2014, the DA said it plans to conduct more cloud seeding operations in Mindanao to protect damage to crops, as requested by the Mindanao Development Authority.
On March 11, state weather bureau PAGASA officially announced the onset of El Niño in the country.
The weather bureau initially predicted that El Niño would develop in June 2014. In November 2014, PAGASA adjusted this estimate and announced that there is a 65% to 70% chance that El Niño will develop in December, 6 months later than the original announcement.
This episode of El Niño is expected to be weaker compared to the El Niño in 1997, known as the worst occurrence in the 20th century. However, it might still have significant effects because of the increased size of the population, according to some experts.
Based on the initial proposal, the cloud seeding operations in the city will require a funding of P3 million ($68,337) as counterpart from the DA, around P700,000 ($15,900) as counterpart from the Zamboanga City Water District and P300,000 ($6,800) as counterpart from the local government unit.
The resolution declaring Zamboanga under a state of calamity was authored by Councilor Cesar Jimenez and seconded by Councilors Roel Natividad, Mike Alavar, Jerry Perez, VP Elago, Percival Ramos, Eduardo Saavedra, Rogelio Valesco Jr., Rodolfo Bayot, Myra Paz Abubakar and Melchor Sadain. – Rappler.com
*$1 – P43.9