MANILA – The government should start its preparations ahead of the El Niño phenomenon that is expected to hit the country in June, Senator Loren Legarda said.
"As the DOST (Department of Science and Technology) has warned of an impending El Niño, we expect that government agencies have already set out programs to address the effects of this phenomenon," the senator said in a statement on Saturday.
The DOST warned that El Niño may trigger drought and stronger storms. The phenomenon could also cause water shortage, which in turn, could cause serious damage to local crops.
"Foremost of our concerns is food security because prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugar cane, vegetables and other agricultural products. It can also cause a decrease in fisheries yield," said Legarda.
The senator also encouraged local government units (LGUs) to put up rainwater harvesting facilities in all barangays as part of water conservation program.
She said such system would help address the country's water shortage problem, particularly during the dry season, while making use of the excess water from rainfall.
"We are already experiencing hot temperatures, but rain showers occur every now and then. Manila was flooded yesterday due to heavy rain. A rainwater catchment system could have avoided or decreased the volume of flood," she said.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the onset of El Niño may begin in June and could peak in the quarter of 2014.
"PAGASA has already noted significant increase in the [sea surface temperature] from 0.2 to 0.4 C from April 21 to April 28, 2014. Because of this development and as climate models predict that this condition may persist for the next nine months,” the state weather bureau said last Thursday.