Drought to hit 65 provinces due to ‘strong’ El Niño–DOST

El Niño’s grip forecast to bring devastating drought to 65 provinces – DOST

/ 05:30 AM December 13, 2023

Renato Solidum Jr. --El Niño

Renato Solidum Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — At least 65 provinces might experience moderate-to-severe drought conditions from February to May next year due to a “strong” El Niño, a climate pattern characterized by the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) warned.

“By the end of May, 77 percent of the provinces in the country will have the potential for drought. That would be around 65 provinces and 7 percent potential for a dry spell or around six provinces,” Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said at a Palace briefing on Tuesday.


Provinces in northern Luzon would experience drought, while some parts of Mindanao would likely experience dry conditions.


“Essentially, all the rest of the country would be from dry conditions to drought. Mostly drought,” he said.

The DOST chief said there were indications that the strong El Niño would be “comparable” to the 1997 to 1998 episode, which was regarded as the worst El Niño event in the world.

“So, we need to plan ahead and we should make it fast,” he said.

Inter-agency plan

On Tuesday, President Marcos met with officials of the Department of Agriculture, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Environment and National Resources, and the National Irrigation Administration and ordered them to categorize actions into short- and medium-term to mitigate the impact of El Niño.

“One important thing is to enhance the communication effort, and this will be handled by the Office of the President so that we can have a massive information campaign on what we need to do, what the government is doing, and what our kababayan (countrymen) should also be doing,” Solidum said.

The government, he said, has prepared a national action plan to ensure water, energy, food, and health security during the El Niño phenomenon.


In another interview, Nathaniel Servando, administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said there would be a “little possibility that we will have tropical cyclones this month.”

Servando also assured the public of adequate water supply, as the reservoir levels in the country’s biggest dams were still above their normal operating capacity.

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TAGS: Department of Science and Technology, El Niño drought, extreme climate, Renato Solidum Jr.

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