DISASTERS are greatly felt by the poor because the effects are magnified in their lives. Every single day of work is synonymous to survival. Thus when impassable roads due to heavy downpour prevent a daily wage earner from going to work, it means no earnings for the day, no food on the table.
We cannot let recurrent disasters take away from our people the little that they have in life. The government must thus look into how its social protection programs can be scaled up not only to address structural poverty, but also to build resilience against the recurring impact of natural hazards.
The Philippines leads the list of the most affected countries by extreme weather events, the Global Climate Risk Index showed as early as 2015. These realities pose greater challenges to our development programs. They will likely make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps.
There must be an improvement in public investments to agriculture, such as irrigation, and pouring more funds in research and development. Our agricultural adaptation program must ensure more investments in research and infrastructure, improved land use policies, better forecasting tools and early warning systems, a strengthened extension system that will assist farmers to achieve economic diversification, and access to credit and crop insurance.
Disasters and climate change adversely affect rice and crop production because both strong typhoons and droughts affect the agriculture sector. Past experiences have proven this fact. Typhoons, floods and droughts from 1970 to 1990 resulted in an 82.4 percent loss in total Philippine rice production; while disasters from 1990 to 2006 caused an average of P12.4 billion worth of agricultural damages per year.
The war against poverty will be much harder if disaster vulnerability remains unaddressed. The government must be more proactive with its disaster resilience and climate change adaptation programs.