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Dagupan readies action plan vs climate change

/ 09:11 PM June 11, 2012

Is this coastal city sinking or is it the sea water level that is rising?

Lawyer Simplicio Navarro, a resident of the coastal village of Pantal here, wants a scientific explanation.

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“Five years ago, I observed that the basketball court in front of our house did not get flooded. Today, on ordinary high tide, water is a foot deep there,” said Navarro during a stakeholders’ conference on climate change here on Friday.

“I have condemned the first floor of my house. I’m already living in the second floor,” he said.

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But it turned out that it was not only Navarro’s village that often gets flooded during high tide. Six other villages, including the city’s business district, experience this, said city agriculturist Emma Molina.

Streets

This city is located in the northwestern part of Pangasinan facing the Lingayen Gulf.

“The flood-prone areas represent 40 percent of the city’s land area. The streets are also affected because these were built when the high tide level was not as high as now,” Molina said.

She said Dagupan has an average elevation of a meter above sea level. “Any high tide level above a meter would surely flood about seven villages, especially those located along the main river tributaries,” Molina said.

This city is crisscrossed by several rivers, including the Pantal-Sinocalan River, one of the province’s three major river systems originating from the Cordillera.

Molina said water used to submerge low-lying areas in the city starting July up to September.

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“However, this year, high tide came as early as this month,” she said.

Just on June 5, we experienced

2.2-meter high tide level and that practically flooded about 70 to 90 percent of the low-lying areas. Even the city hall compound got flooded by 4 to 6 inches deep,” she said.

Molina said the situation is worse during the rainy months, especially when there is a typhoon.

Data

Gilbert Llanto, a senior fellow at Philippine Institute for Development Studies who attended the conference, said there was a need for systematic data to guide an analysis of this city’s situation.

“Any intervention that we might want to introduce that is not based on a systematic study backed up by data might not solve the problems and yet we will be imposing on ourselves a large physical burden,” Llanto said.

The conference was held in preparation for the formulation of a climate change action plan for the city through a grant from French Development Agency (AFD or L’Agence Francaise de Developpement).

Assistance

Luc de Cabellec, AFD country director, said Dagupan was one of three Philippine cities that his agency had chosen for the grant. The others are Sta. Rosa City in Laguna and General Santos City.

“What we are expecting is for technical assistance to be instrumental and useful for the city to identify the kind of project that could be done to improve its environmental situation and to prepare the city to be ready for any climate change adaptation needs,” Cabellec said.  Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Climate Change, Coastal City, Environmental Issues, Environmental Politics, French Development Agency, local government, Philippine Institute for Development Studies
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