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Weak El Niño: Water sources drying up

By NITZ ARANCON and LITO RULONA
Correspondents .

WEATHER specialists at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Misamis Oriental said a “weak” El Niño has started to affect the country and its effects would be felt until the middle of the year. But this early, water sources in some parts of Mindanao are reportedly drying up.

The state weather bureau said the weak El Niño phenomenon started this Feb. 20 and it is expected to last until June. The phenomenon is characterized by rising surface temperature levels, weaker easterly trade winds, the south oscillation index threshold, and negative long wind radiation.

But just a week later, a local government in North Cotabato has already sounded alarm bells because its water sources were drying up.

Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista said open wells, springs, and rivers, among others, have dried up in the North Cotabato city.

Evangelista said the Kidapawan city government may declare a state of calamity if the situation turns from bad to worse.

“The city (Kidapawan) has not experienced heavy downpour in the past two months except for some rain showers,” Evangelista said.

The situation has worsened in Kidapawan that the local government has started rationing potable water to some areas like sitios Nazareth, Quarry and Puas Inda in Barangay Amas; Sitio Andagkit in Barangay Kalaisan; Sitio Lika in Barangay Onica; and Sitios Balite and Talisay in Barangay Malinan.

“Aside from drinking water, the city also provides water for cooking and washing in the affected areas,” Evangelista said.

Evangelista said his fear is that the weather conditions would worsen and result in crop damage.

Earlier, a representative of the Cagayan de Oro Hotels and Restaurants Association (Cohara) expressed concerns over how the El Niño phenomenon would affect food supplies, and other sectors here.   

During a meeting of the city council’s committee on trade, commerce and industry, Cohara representative and Luxe Hotel manager Jerome dela Fuente called on city hall to put in place measures to cushion the effects of a dry spell.

“What do you do when it hits us? What sectors would be affected? What are the farmers going do? What will the city (government) do about it? There is an (El Niño) phenomenon that’s going to hit us,” he said.

 He cited reports that identified Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental and the Lanao provinces as among those likely to get affected the most.

During the meeting, Councilor George Goking said there was a need for local governments and national government agencies to sit down and address the problem together.

Daizy Flores, a weather specialist at the Pagasa station in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental, said the entire country would continue to have warmer and drier days ahead until June.

“Kon na-a may ulan nga mahitabo sulod sa mga panahon nga na-a ang weak El Niño, kana nga ulan below normal ra gyud ang nahitabo nia-a,” Flores said.

She said Pagasa has been coordinating with local governments and the Department of Agriculture, among others, in the hope to cushioning the adverse effects of the weak Eli Niño.

Flores said farmers should be guided and choose what they plant given the looming dry spell. (with reports from PNA)

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