March 29, 2019

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) encouraged all concerned agencies to take a holistic and proactive approach to mitigating the impacts of El Niño.

NEDA said that agencies should focus on the five critical areas identified in the Roadmap for Addressing the Impacts of El Niño, or RAIN framework, namely: a) food security, b) water security, c) energy security d) health, and e) safety.

“We cannot stop El Niño, but we can make swift and effective moves to soften its impact on the lives of our countrymen and the economy,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The Department of Agriculture reported that as of March 18, 2019, damage to the agricultural sector has reached PHP1.33 billion affecting 70,353 hectares and a total 84,932 farmers all over the country.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has approved the full reactivation of the El Niño Task Force in March 2019, and is now waiting for a Memorandum Order from the Office of the President.

“NEDA is ready to take a lead role in mitigating the effects of El Niño. We will also review and improve the RAIN to better suit the country’s current conditions,” he said.

As an interim measure, NEDA is proposing to transform the National Water Resource Board into the National Water Management Council to strengthen the board and provide it with additional manpower and financial resources.

“There is a need for an apex body that will oversee the overall planning, programming, and policy formulation based on sound data. We should also cite the gaps in water services that remain despite the abundance of the resource and programs and projects for the sector,” added Pernia.

Moreover, he emphasized that the long-term solution is to push for the creation of the Department of Water Resources that will ensure the sufficient allocation of water resources across sectors.