Government reactivates El Niño Task Force
The government is reactivating the El Niño Task Force (ENTF) in anticipation of the climatic phenomenon’s continuous effects in the next few months, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said on Friday.
The task force was first engaged in 2015 when the Philippines was reeling from one of the strongest El Niño occurrences on record.
Back then, the agriculture sector alone lost P15.2 billion worth of crops and livestock.
‘Weak’ this year
This year’s El Niño is classified as “weak,” although it is expected to cause reduced rainfall, dry spells and droughts, which are already being felt in some parts of the country.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has approved the ENTF’s reactivation as early as August 2018 but is still awaiting a memorandum order from the Office of the President.
“Neda (National Economic and Development Authority) is ready to take a leading role in mitigating the effects of El Niño,” Pernia said in a press briefing.
“We will also review and improve the ‘RAIN’ approach to better suit the country’s current conditions,” he added.
He was referring to the task force’s Roadmap for Addressing the Impacts of El Niño, which guided key interventions on critical areas.
During the previous El Niño, the ENTF’s areas of concern were food security, energy security, health and safety.
“(W)e cannot stop El Niño from happening,” Pernia said. “But as we take a long-term view and look at the lessons from our experiences, we are on a stronger footing to weather it.”
This time, Neda is adding a fifth area of concern, which is water security.
Pernia said this should be the priority after food security and before energy security.
“As we all know, it is easier to endure lack of electricity than lack of water,” he said.
According to Neda Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro, key actions lined up to ensure water security include close monitoring of major dams, supply allocation and water pressure management.
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