THE intense climate-related natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific call for better mitigation and adaptation programs, particularly in the Philippines’s Visayas islands, which now appear to be more frequented by typhoons and heavy rains, experts said.
Rosa Perez, a climate and weather expert from the Manila Observatory, said that in the last decade, the path of tropical cyclones has changed and is now landing in the Visayas. ?This, she said, could be attributed to the rising temperature of the water in the region.
Speaking at a forum dubbed Confronting the Rising Threat of Climate Disasters organized by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Perez said there’s a need to put more science in addressing the impact of climate-related disasters such as floods, particularly in terms of budget allocation to reduce risks of disasters and enhance the resiliency of the vulnerable communities.
The forum aims to address the challenges and risks from climate-related natural disasters.
The Philippines remains highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which scientists attribute to man-made induced global warming.
Budget, she said, should hence be channeled in areas which needed it most, considering the changing paths of tropical cyclones. She said the relocation of those “at risk” to flood is one of the possible steps that needs to be done to avert disaster.
“Tropical cyclones are naturally attracted by warm water and it seems the rise in temperature in the Visayas is attracting tropical cyclones,” she said.
Perez said while there is no notable change in terms of frequency or intensity or strength of typhoons, there’s a difference in the volume of water being poured in.??Even tropical cyclones, she noted, has brought in more rain thereby triggering floods.? She also noted increasing frequency of extreme daily rainfall, which brings in more water than usual, making flooding more frequent and a constant threat to flood-prone areas.
Vinod Thomas, director general of Independent Evaluation at the ADB, said such disasters should be addressed as a regular thing, considering the frequency of typhoons and rains that trigger massive flooding.
He underscored the need to enhance the country’s disaster-risk reduction program, by putting in place early-warning systems that actually works, to prevent loss of lives.
Thomas noted there is a need to enhance climate-change adaptation and mitigation measures underscoring the natural link between the cause and effect.
He said while adaptation focuses on disaster preparedness, mitigation focuses on prevention which is a more long-term solution to the adverse effect of global warming.
An ADB Independent Evaluation report revealed that the frequency of intense floods and storms is increasing globally and in Asia and the Pacific, pointing to the need for better mitigation and adaptation to natural disasters.
Such calamities, the report said, “erode the otherwise dramatic progress on poverty reduction and other development gains of the past two decades.”
Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Elisea Gozun said the government is addressing the challenge of climate change pro-actively, and with more focus on adaptation, rather than mitigation, considering that the Philippines is frequented by intensifying typhoons.
The Philippines experiences an average of 18 typhoons every year, but weather experts noted that these typhoons are becoming more disastrous, because of severe flooding, such as Ondoy, which dropped an equivalent of six months of rainwater in September 26, 2009, severely affecting 90 percent of Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.
Gozun said by 2013, a more climate-resilient National budget will be put in place as the Climate Change Commission coordinates various programs to adapt to and mitigate climate-change impacts on highly vulnerable communities with the Department of Budget and Management.
Various programs, she said, had in fact been instituted by the Aquino administration, recognizing its adverse impact to growth and development as well as poverty alleviation, as contained in the National Climate Change Action Plan.
By Jonathan L. Mayuga
June 29, 2012