CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
5 June 2016
The Allah Valley Land Development Alliance (AVLDA), an inter-LGU developmental organization composed of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces and their constituent municipalities, co-organized with BITS Policy Center a workshop last 2 June 2016, where they tackled ways how the various municipalities may recover from the devastation of the recent El Niño phenomenon and to prepare for the onset of La Niña and the ways how LGUs and communities may prepare their proposals in a manner that will increase the probability of these proposals being considered for approval by the Peoples’ Survival Fund.
“Include the use of climate information in your proposals” suggested Dr. Vicky Espaldon, a UP Scientist as well as a Professor at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB), who was the main resource person in the workshop.
This was mentioned when Dr Espaldon summed up the kinds of information that local government officials and community organizations may need to put in their proposals so that it may be reviewed favorably and will get funding from the Peoples’ Survival Fund.
She also said to start with a good vulnerability assessment of their locality, identifying the various climate hazards that they face and the ways the communities and their environment, including crops, are exposed to these hazards.
It is also important to add maps of the affected areas of, for example, the recent drought and various information and data on the ways their areas are affected by the typhoons or any other climate-related event.
The reason she said this is that most of the scientist-reviewers of proposals being submitted to the People’s Survival Fund are from PAGASA, the weather forecasting agency under the Department of Science and Technology, though there are other multi-discipline specialists that help out the Climate Change Commission decide which proposals will be supported by the Fund.
The Peoples’ Survival Fund was set up by Republic Act 10174 which appropriates one billion pesos annually in the country’s General Appropriations Act to support climate adaptation projects of local government units and community organizations.
Participants in the one-day workshop came from the El Niño-affected municipalities from both South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces and were either local government agricultural, environment or disaster risk reduction and management officers of their towns and those who joined them in the workshop were their farmer-partners from various peoples’ organizations operating in their municipalities.
At the opening part of the discussion, there was one participant from the municipality of Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat who lambasted the numerous requirements being asked by the Climate Change Commission of those who submit proposals for funding from the People’s Survival Fund, and their proposal has been pending for over three years now without any idea if such proposal will ever be approved.
The said participant did not stay on for the workshop, perhaps he only wanted to air their town’s frustration with the very slow and numerous requirements to get funding from the Fund.
At the end of the workshop, the project ideas generated by the participants ranged from the diking of Kapingkong and Allah River, from Lambayong municipality in Sultan Kudarat province; the de-silting of the waterways of Allah River that passes through several barangays in Isulan municipality in Sultan Kudarat province; the extension of sheet piles along the river banks coupled with a reforestation program in Sto. Nino municipality in South Cotabato province; the establishment of a nursery and a corn mill in Esperanza municipality in Sultan Kudarat province; a reforestation program coupled with ecotourism development from Surallah municipality in South Cotabato province; a diversified farming system from Banga municipality and a provision of shallow tube wells to augment the existing irrigation water resources in Nurala municipality, all from South Cotabato province.
Dr. Art Salazar, also of the UPLB, talked about various alternative crops that the farmers may deploy, particularly corn and legumes while also introducing small-sized corn mills and multiple feed pelletizing machines that his group developed which may be availed of by the various municipalities as they are low-priced and easily deployed and operated at the community level.
There was also a presentation by Dr. Vicky Espaldon on the SARAI (Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, website : http://www.sarai.ph ) project of the UPLB, an easy-to-use free farm information system that will help farmers and local government units tap the knowhow of UPLB scientists for their day-to-day problems in the farm, including access to some maps and other satellite-based information which they can use in their climate adaptation activities at the farm level. She urged farmers and LGUs to avail of the said information system as soon as they can since it is already available to all.