Isabela Farmer by Gregg Yan

Isabela Farmer by Gregg Yan

WWF helps Isabela farmers prepare to combat the effects of climate change as more severe and frequent typhoons will come their way.

Press Release:

Ilagan City, Isabela – Climate Change poses serious threats to water supplies, food security and to the crucial livelihoods of farmers in Isabela’s Abuan watershed. In 2005, dry spells followed by severe flooding caused extensive farm damage estimated at PHP 838 Million (USD 19.5 Million). In the early half of 2010, prolonged dry spells caused widespread wilting of rice and corn crops. In November of the same year, Typhoon Juan ploughed through Isabela, inflicting PHP 542 Million in damages to the City of Ilagan, with 45% of total damages incurred by the agricultural sector. Typhoon Quiel followed in 2011, causing PHP 115 Million in damages and displacing more than 500,000 people (NDRRMC 2011). In the Abuan floodplain, some 2,342 residents from seven barangays were housed in temporary shelters (DRRMO, City Government of Ilagan).

Stronger and more frequent storms plus droughts will likely hit Isabela in the coming years. According to PAGASA, the 2050 scenario for Isabela will result in a 1.9 to 2.1 C increase in temperature, a 29% decrease in mean rainfall for dry months, plus a 1.7% to 25.1% increase in rainfall during wet months. This rise in temperature will translate to more frequent and intense flooding and prolonged dry spells each summer. Higher temperatures increase evapotranspiration rates or crop water requirements, leading to higher demand and increased competition with other water uses.

Improving the resiliency of watersheds and communities is an essential step in adapting to dangerous climate change. Building the capacities of communities to reduce their vulnerability to typhoons, flooding and dry spells will improve their resiliency to extreme events. Halting deforestation, mitigating soil erosion and improving forest cover through agro-forestry will help improve ecosystem resiliency and farmer incomes.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) organized a Stakeholders’ Inception Planning Workshop last 26 and 27 February at the Cagayan Valley Integrated Research Center (CVIARC) Multi-Purpose Auditorium to launch its project entitled ‘The Abuan Integrated Watershed Program’, which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This project enhances the capacity of Abuan watershed communities to manage climate risks – especially floods, typhoons and dry spells, while improving the resiliency of watershed ecosystems.

Among those who attended the inception planning workshop were representatives from DENR Isabela, Department of Agriculture CVIARC officials, officers of WWF-Philippines, USAID representatives, department heads from the Provincial Governments of both Isabela and the City of Ilagan, barangay officials and officers plus members of local organizations. The inception workshop introduced the project to stakeholders and how it contributes to the Climate Change Action Plan of the City. (30)

About the Abuan Integrated Watershed Program

The Abuan Integrated Watershed Program was launched last October 2012, driven by the goal of increasing the resiliency of communities living in the vicinity of the Abuan watershed against the constant threat of climate change by means of agroforestry plus the development and formation of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) management procedures and practices. The program will encompass 13 barangays under the Ilagan City Government, five of which are upstream barangays situated along the foot of the Abuan watershed and eight that are located at the watershed boundaries of the Bintacan and Abuan rivers, a floodplain area. The program will run for five years before being turned over to the Local Government of Ilagan.