General Santos City Takes Steps to Prepare for Disaster and Climate Change Impacts

Elpidio V. Peria
9 February 2014

Last 6 February 2014, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) as well as the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) of General Santos City held a Pre-Summit Conference in Sun City Suites participated in by key disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and planning officials of Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces and some key municipalities, representatives of other line offices of the City, representatives of line government agencies, civil society representatives and Sangguniang Panlungsod Climate Change Committee Chair Hon. Beth Bagonoc and Environment Committee Chair Ed Leyson.

City Planning head Engr. Nael Joseph D. Cruspero explained the rationale of the activity by saying that the CPDO is mandated to revise the City’s Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) but given the recent mandate given by the City Mayor himself Hon. Ronnel Rivera to take steps to include climate change adaptation in these plans, the City’s plans will have to include its neighbors in South Cotabato particularly Polomolok, Tupi and T’boli as well as the municipalities that will have an impact on Sarangani Bay particularly Malungon, Maasim, Malapatan and Glan.

As reiterated by Dr. Bong Dacera, the OIC-Action Officer of the CDRRMO, the General Santos Basin and its watershed should be the focus of these revised disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation (DRR-CCA) plans though if the Sarangani PENRO would have his way, he would rather want that it include the entire SOCSARGEN basin and watershed as well.

The rep from DILG laid out the process in determining a local government unit’s vulnerability assessment and in the exchanges that followed, it appeared that both South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces are already finished with their vulnerability assessment activities and it is now only Gen. Santos City that still has to validate its own assessment of its vulnerabilities from disaster risks and climate change impacts.

It’s good that there is a French development agency (AFD)-funded activity called Green and Sustainable Urban Planning which looked at General Santos City’s vulnerabilities and part of its preliminary results were given to the participants for their further comments and validation.

A quick glance at the matrix circulated during the Pre-Summit Conference indicated the following climate change impacts in Gen. Santos City:

a) Increase in frequency and severity in heat stress events in urban areas due to increase in temperatures and increase in the number of hot days – for the City, temperatures are projected to increase up to 1.2C in 2020 and up to 2.4C in 2050;

b) Depletion of groundwater and surface water;

c) Higher number/frequency of crop production losses due to decrease in precipitation and drought- by 2020 seasonal rainfall is projected to decrease from March to May (-12.1%); June to August (-9.3%); September to November (-1.7%); by 2050 rainfall will decrease from March to May (-17.6%); June to August (-10.4%); and September to November (-5.3%).

d) Increase in damage to property and livelihood and displacement of population living in hazardous areas due to more frequent storm surges exacerbated by sea level rise;

e) Increased risk of coastal flooding due to projected sea level rise – based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, the sea level in the coastal areas of General Santos City rose by around 10 to 11mm per year for the period 1992 to 2012. If this trend continues, sea level in the coastal waters of General Santos City will rise by 7-8cm in 2020 and 37-41 cm in 2050.

These projected impacts will need to be further validated and refined through the various focus-group discussions set to be held sometime in April this year. All these results are expected to be finalized when the Climate Summit will be held tentatively a day after Earth Day, or on 23 April 2014.


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