Western Visayas

DA says drought to worsen in Western Visayas provinces before May

Erwin Delilan

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DA says drought to worsen in Western Visayas provinces before May
A water scarcity problem is plaguing many areas in Western Visayas

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Five out of six provinces in Western Visayas are suffering from drought, with conditions anticipated to worsen this month, agriculture officials in the region said on Wednesday, April 17.

At least five local governments in Negros and Panay islands have already been declared under a state of calamity due to the scorching heat and dry weather conditions induced by the El Niño phenomenon.

A Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) outlook, released by the Department of Agriculture in Region VI, said the drought is expected to become full-blown before May in five provinces in Region 6 – Iloilo, Capiz, Antique, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental. 

Aklan, another Western Visayas province, is expected to remain under a dry spell category.

The agriculture department categorizes areas experiencing a more than 60% reduction from the average rainfall for three consecutive months as being under the drought category. Areas with a 20% to 60% reduction from the average rainfall for three consecutive months are placed under the dry spell category.

The damage to agriculture has prompted the local governments of the towns of San Enrique in Negros Occidental, Sara in Iloilo, Sibalom, Laua-an, and Anini-y in Antique to declare a state of calamity. Iloilo City is expected to follow suit.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the region said it was still preparing its April assessment of damage caused by the El Niño phenomenon in Western Visayas.

But in its March 13 report, the OCD said it documented more than P800 million in crop damage in Western Visayas, excluding damage to the sugar industry.

In Negros Occidental, El Niño-induced crop damage to rice and corn was estimated at P115 million, according to a report from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) as of April 11.

Twenty-two out of 32 local governments in the province have already been affected by the extreme heat, OPA added.

Water crisis

A water scarcity problem is also plaguing many areas in Western Visayas.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the local government is set to declare the city under a state of calamity due to water scarcity.

Treñas, in a statement, said there was a need to set aside funds to purchase more water from bulk water suppliers Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) and the Balibago Waterworks System Incorporated.

About 17% of Iloilo City’s total population has been adversely affected by the El Niño phenomenon, he said.

In Bacolod City, water rationing has been resorted to in several villages, including Barangays 27, Mansilingan, Mandalagan, and Villamonte.

Some 20,233 residents from 11 barangays in Himamaylan City in southern Negros Occidental were also facing water scarcity.

Himamaylan Mayor Raymund Tongson said the local government has approved a P23-million budget from their 2023 savings to be used for water rationing and aid to affected farmers.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, meanwhile, announced that P2,000 will be released to each of the El Niño-affected farmers in the province. There are more than 2,585 affected farmers from 135 villages in the province, he said.

The DA in the region said the current situation, worsened by spiking temperatures, is “quite alarming,” prompting it to draft interventions focused on mitigating the damage to agricultural crops in the affected areas.

The DA interventions include the following:

  • Ensure an adequate supply of irrigation water, with one strategy being the installation of solar-powered irrigation facilities.
  • Adjust the cropping calendar to align with the current climatic conditions.
  • Strengthen sustainable agriculture development. 


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