Local governments have integrated climate change policies in their “protected landscape” and “eco-town” projects in disaster-prone areas in Marikina and Rizal.
In a multi-sectoral project done with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture or Searca, the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape will be applied by LGUs to benefit farmers and residents in the Rizal towns of Tanay, San Mateo, Rodriguez, Baras, and Antipolo City.
This project is making a reality of a previously vague or unreal concept of climate change, as LGUs adapt to it through proper agricultural and environmental management practices. They also prepare for and mitigate or reduce the otherwise serious impacts of climate change.
“Even if you don’t have data, you know the climate change has influence in agricultural production. Here we’re mainstreaming how we should plan for climate change so that benefits go down to the grassroots,” said Searca director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. at a reception for their project partners.
The UMRBPL is a project of Searca with the Asian Development Bank, among the partners it honored in a dinner reception last Tuesday (December 6).
“Now you can (schedule planting), and you know where to avoid putting certain crops because erosion is rampant there. It’s a whole thing about environmental management and even bigger than climate change,” Saguitguit said. “We should overlay [with agricultural plans] what is likely to happen in terms of disasters like typhoon.”
The new planning tool pushed by Searca involves AMIA or Adaptation Mitigation and Mitigation Initiative, which is now being employed by the Department of Agriculture in its programs. It is done with the aid of the University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation Inc., the Climate Change Commission, and other partners.
Among specific measure piloted by the AMIA concept is the bio-charcoal briquetting for Marikina, San Mateo, Rodriguez, Tanay, and Baras, said Dr. Ancha Srinivasan, ADB climate change specialist.
Another is a species establishment and rehabilitation in Tanay, Rodriguez, and Baras.
Check dams – practical, cheap irrigation sources naturally regenerated through rainfall and aquifer (water table) replenishment — are also being piloted in Antipolo City and San Mateo.
Dr. Lope B. Santos III, SEARCA program specialist, said another AMIA project is being applied in similarly climate change-affected Camarines Sur, Davao Oriental, and Lower Marikina, also funded by the ADB.
Under AMIA, LGUs use toolkits like vulnerability assessments and Geographic Information System to determine if a site for agricultural production may be vulnerable to typhoons, landslides, flooding, or tsunami.
They use greenhouse gas inventory and tools to determine polluting carbon dioxide emission in an area and the capacity of a certain agroforest area to sequester CO2.
Benefit-cost analysis tools let farmers know if a reforestation-planting expense will yield desired profit.
“Our hope is that our LGUs will use and maximize results of this project in updating their Comprehensive Land Use Plan and in preparing local climate change action plan,” said Saguiguit.
More than 2,000 stakeholders in the protected landscape benefited from training under the UMRBPL project alone.
But SEARCA had also received these proposals under an earlier AMIA workshop:
Kaunlaran Resettlement Area (KRA) Agricultural Development Project (Nueva Era, Bunawan Agusan del Sur and San Gabriel, Veruela, Agusan del Sur);
Rice Productivity Enhancement in Eastern Visayas Region (Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar);
Building capacities for climate resilient tilapia farming in the Philippines (Minalin, Pampanga);
Increasing agricultural production by using “no-regrets” Disaster Risk Reduction/Climate Change Adaptation options: Using submergence-tolerant rice variety (NSIC RC 194), water conservation and management, efficient post-harvest facilities, and promotion of Climate Field Schools in Concepcion, Tarlac.
SEARCA, founded in 1966 with the aid of international humanitarian organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, recognized in its dinner reception its partners that had made its many programs successful.
“If you’re an agency wanting to do work in Southeast Asia, your first stop is SEARCA because automatically our reach is 11 countries through the government,” Saguitguit said.
“We cannot name one particular partner as dominant, but development agencies keep us in the directory if they’re pushing things like food security and poverty alleviation. That’s why we’re now the favorite of the IFAD (International Food for Agricultural Development) which is a United Nations body doing development work.”