Region 12 high-risk to climate change impact

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/21 April) — Southwestern Mindanao is highly at risk in a changing climate condition, with increased rainfall and rising sea levels, an official warned on Friday.

Herlita G. Caraan, National Statistical Coordination BoardRegion 12 chief, said that more rainfall, an increase in temperature and rising sea level would hit the area in the medium term (2020-2050).

In a fact sheet, NSCB-12 warned of worse flooding, landslide and storm surges affecting hundreds of villages in the region as a result of climate change.

Based on a mid-range scenario simulations by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), rainfall in Region 12 was predicted to increase in 2020 by as much as 14.8 percent and 15.6 percent by2050.

The increased rainfall was projected to happen during the north-east monsoon season (December to February) and during the transition of seasons from September to November.

“These periods will be wetter and with potential for increased flooding, storm surge and landslide,” Caraan said.

According to the geo-hazard maps from the regional Mines and Geosciences Bureau, at least 300 barangays in the region are high-risk to flooding as they are located near major river tributaries and low land zones.

TheMGB-12 also classified some 200 villages in elevated areas and those near sloppy areas as high-risk to landslides.

Forty-eight coastal villages are vulnerable to storm surges while 26 other have high potential for tsunami, it added.

Region12, also called the SOCCSKSARGEN region, consists of the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Temperatures are expected to increase across all four seasons though it would be much hotter during the summer season (March to May) across all provinces in the region, theNSCB-12 said.

PAGASA further projected an annual mean temperature increase from the observed baseline by 0.9oC to 1.3oC in 2020 and from 1.9oC to 2.5oC in 2050 in Region 12, it said.

Health authorities have warned that warmer temperatures would result to increase risks to infectious diseases like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis.

“More people will be vulnerable to cholera as algal blooms may occur more frequently. Red tide in coastal waters will become more frequent and widespread,”the report said.

For rising seawater, the NSCB-12, citing a Greenpeace report titled “The Philippines: A Climate Hotspot,“ said that an estimated 11,664,000 square meters of land in Region 12 will be vulnerable to a one-meter sea level rise.

Areas most likely to be affected are coastal areas in Sarangani, SultanKudarat, General Santos City, including Cotabato City as 70 percent of the city’s total land area is below sea level, the NSCB-12 said.

Ronald Flores, executive director of the Office of Civil Defense, urged the local government units in Region12 to put up their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (LDRRMO).

The OCD has been conducting regional consultation for LGUs to effectively implement Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of 2010. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)