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Albay: A natural laboratory for climate-change adaptation


Business Mirror – Written by Imelda V. Abaño / Correspondent

(Conclusion)

TIME and goodwill are on Albay’s side, and with support from the national government, multilateral donors, various nongovernment organizations and the business sector, the province’s fledgling projects may reap large benefits.

Albay got one of the biggest technological boosts to its disaster preparedness and response capability with the kick-off of the P1.6-billion Japan International Cooperation Agency-funded Doppler radars for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.  The donated radars would allow for more advanced warning on the rainfall content of approaching meteorological events.

Tiwi town is also host for the first geothermal plant in the Philippines run by Chevron Geothermal Philippines Holdings, bringing clean, renewable energy to most parts of Luzon.

Among the adaptation strategies that have been institutionalized in the province are the central function of the Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation (Circa) to sustain the province’s innovative initiatives; the climate proofing of the comprehensive land-use plans with a budget of P16 million from the United Nations Development Program; curricular development to include climate adaptation in basic education; mangrove plantations with the environment department; and their regular cleaning of waterways and rivers.

Manuel Rangasa, Circa executive director, said Albay is now pushing for the Climate Change Academy to function as a learning laboratory for other local government units to learn from Albays climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk management.

“We also wanted to share our strategies on how to best adapt to the changing climate, as well as on how other provinces can strengthen their policies on disaster management,” Rangasa told the BusinessMirror. “So we are not only mainstreaming these strategies to public-school students, but also to our policymakers and project implementers in the government.”

Aside from integration of Climate Change Adaptation in the curriculum and to other LGUs, Rangasa said the province of Albay is the first provincial government unit in the country to use the customized SimCLIM software, a computer model system for examining the effects of climate variability and change over time and space.

He said SimCLIM is a tool for creating possible scenarios of climate change that are then linked with various sectors, such as coastal, agriculture, water, health and the planning required to reduce the risk borne by societies and environments as a result of shifts in climate.

This project is supported by the University of Sunshine Coast based in Qeensland, Australia; Asia Pacific Network; and the University of the Philippines in Los Baños.

But Salceda added that with the projects still in the pipeline, funding is still crucial.

The obstacle is funding for big-ticket risk-reduction measures like permanent evacuation centers (capacity is at only 20 percent of potential evacuation), engineering interventions (flood control), land-use control (buyout of private lands most vulnerable to disasters), geostrategic interventions (road networks) and response/recovery equipment (heavy duty), Salceda said.

“Our vision of Albay is to become the most livable province known for good schools, good hospitals and good environment that provides for a better life for our people and as a pleasant place with pleasing personalities,” Salceda said.

While addressing issues surrounding clim-ate change and natural disaster affecting thousands of people in Albay, Salceda expressed belief that Albay is progressing in terms of its economy, education, environment and health.

Albay is positioning itself as a world-class tourist destination, and education and medical center. The construction of the P3.4-billion Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga town is underway.

“If you have a vision, this will guide you on what you want for the welfare of the people, as well as for the environment. I hope all provinces in the country have a vision for the people and their environment,” Salceda said.

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