Ready for an extended El Niño?

THE El Niño phenomenon which started in October last year may persist until the end of 2019, according to the state-owned Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). A leading concern is food and water security because prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugar cane, vegetables and other agricultural products. It can also cause a decrease in fisheries yield.

What measures has the National Irrigation Administration adopted to mitigate the impact of the El Niño? Any water-saving technologies? Water distribution rotation? Rainwater harvesting?

The establishment of rainwater harvesting facilities in every barangay in the country could be an effective water conservation program. A rainwater catchment system could avoid or decrease the volume of flood when it rains and the rainwater collected could be used when there is water shortage.

These catchment systems can be built using low-cost local materials. Each of us can do this. Collectively, this will save us a lot of water.

The creation of rainwater catchment basins has long been mandated by law. Republic Act 6716 was enacted in 1989; it requires the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the country.

Communities should practice water conservation measures by avoiding excessive water use and reusing water, like gathering and storing rainwater for daily chores, using water dipper instead of shower when taking a bath, turning off faucets properly, and immediately repairing leaking pipes and running toilets, among others.

We are not totally helpless against El Niño.


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