Initiative seeks to build Philippine communities’ resilience to climate change

Homes destroyed by Typhoon Bopha, which hit Mindanao on Dec. 4, 2012. Two U.N. agencies have teamed up to help communities affected by Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines to be better prepared for the next deluge. Photo by: World Vision

Two U.N. agencies have teamed up to help communities affected by Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines to be better prepared for the next deluge.

The U.N. World Food Program and its implementing partner, U.N.-Habitat, will assess the ecological, physical and socio-economic risks to climate change of the cities of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Iloilo. They were selected because of their increased vulnerability to the effects of climate change, such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

The partners will engage nongovernmental organizations and the academe in the assessment, as well as in the formulation of a local climate change action plan, Mei Nebreja of WFP Philippines’ communications and partnerships unit told Devex in an email. Local government units, meanwhile, will receive training in the planning and implementation of climate adaptation activities.

“Empowering local governments and communities to adapt to climate change is key to this joint initiative,” WFP Philippines Country Director and Representative Stephen Anderson said in a press release.

U.N.-Habitat will provide technical assistance and spearhead the training of local government personnel. WFP, meanwhile, will lead “high-impact community adaptation projects.” These projects have yet to be identified, according to Nebreja, but they will be “demand driven.” Some risk mitigation activities, meanwhile, include the promotion of energy-efficient buildings and urban agriculture techniques, the establishment of water impounding systems and sloping technology for soil and water management in the uplands, and planting of local tree varieties in watershed areas, Nebreja said.

Funding for the project will come from the U.S. Agency for International Development, with WFP providing additional financing for high-impact projects. Total project cost is $547,058.

WFP and U.N.-Habitat will be working on the project until Sept. 2013. It is part of the climate change adaptation component of the second phase of WFP’s disaster preparedness and response program.

The island of Mindanao does not fall in the Philippines’ “traditional typhoon belt.” Of late, however, the region has been hit by strong typhoons, which many attribute to climate change. More than a thousand lives were lost to Typhoon Washi last year.

Australia has already pledged 5 million Australian dollars ($5.2 million) worth of emergency supplies for families affected by Typhoon Bopha. Canada has announced 250,000 Canadian dollars ($252,082) support for the Philippine Red Cross, which is helping address the needs of some 50,000 affected families. The Singapore Red Cross, meanwhile, has pledged to provide 150,000 Singapore dollars ($122,962) worth of relief supplies to survivors living in evacuation centers, according to Bernama.

The typhoon’s death toll has now climbed to more than 400.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.