In the midst of the scorching heat of the sun, about 30 individuals from government offices, non-government organizations, people’s organizations, academe and church leaders gathered together to commemorate the International Day of Mother Earth and to tackle one of the most pressing issues today: the El Nino phenomenon.
Together with Eastern Samar Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) and Office of the Provincial Agricultural Services (OPAS), the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) and Oxfam conducted a roundtable discussion entitled: “#ElNinoHaEste: Roundtable Discussion on Strengthening Community Resilience on El Nino” to discuss the impacts of El Nino among the communities’ of Eastern Samar and to formulate actions to mitigate and prevent its impacts
Mr. Artemio Rebato, a member of the DRR Technical Working Group and head of the Planning Office, welcomed this initiative, saying that the roundtable discussion bridges the gap between the government and other concerned agencies for them to work together. “This is very timely since we need to mitigate the impacts of El Nino, and one of the most effective ways is to educate the public,” he said.
Mr. Deogracias Paano of OPAS shared that farmers and fisher folks can access support from the provincial agricultural offices. “Eastern Samar is affected by El Nino but the government is doing its best to reach out to our farmers. Our office assists in loans without interest,” he explained as he shared various initiatives of the OPAS in the province.
Apart from the discussions on El Nino, various civil society organizations (CSO) voiced out their concerns about the impact of El Nino to their communities. Mana Editha of Converse Seaweed Farmers Association (CFSA) reported that production of seaweeds decreased because of the climate, resulting to loss of livelihood in their community. “Some of us have no other livelihood options aside from the seaweeds. I hope the government could help us find alternatives,” she voiced out.
Farmer-Entrepreneur Association (FEA) also reported that the volume of their crops has decreased; hence, they need assistance from the government to recover from the impacts of El Nino.
Mr. Paano offered technical support to these organizations, stating that they will reach out to them to help them craft their proposals to access funds, “You can always visit our office, or let us know when we can discuss so that we can help you access the support.”
At the end of the round table discussion, the CSOs, NGOs, academe and government agencies planned actions, specifically on how to minimize the impact of El Nino through public education, collaboration, direct support and advocacy. The OPAS also committed to assist the farmers in various communities of Eastern Samar and formulate more decisive actions to address the impacts of El Nino.
The CSOs reiterated that it bridged the gap among the government and communities in addressing the relevant issues affecting farmers and fisher folks. “It helped us understand that the government is doing its part. We hope that activities like this would continue because we need to know more about El Nino,” Mana Tita of KAKASA ended.