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Ilonggo Network

Climate resilient land use planning 1st of two parts

The devastation brought by super typhoon “Yolanda”, that has made six landfalls in various islands in the Visayas November 8, is beyond comprehension.

Thousands of deaths, hundreds of missing and injured persons, and destruction to properties, equipment, agriculture and livelihood characterize the aftermath of “Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan)”. The damages are so huge, and the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts might take a long, long period of time. The badly affected islands are Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Negros, Panay, Masbate and Palawan.

The typhoon worsened because it triggered storm surges, particularly in Leyte and Samar.

While it was unfortunate that such catastrophic event occurred, we can’t help but learn our lessons since, according to experts, extreme weather disturbances are the new normal phenomenon of our times. This is largely due to the fact that the natural coping mechanisms of the Earth to withstand environmental changes are already altered.

One example is the irreversible damage to the ozone layer that supposedly helps regulate the climatic pattern of the different regions of the world. The destruction of the ozone layer is attributed to the excessive emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases. Numerous climate experts are already warning of two extreme weather scenarios – either prolonged period of rainy season or extended dry season.

Considering that the Philippines has already been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of natural hazards and risks, it is only appropriate that adaptation measures shall be carried out vigorously to minimize the negative impacts of the changing climatic condition of the world.

One important element of this adaptation is the climate proofing of our land use and other development plans and their subsequent implementation. It requires the serious integration of disaster risk reduction and management in the land use planning of the different local government units. Some LGUs have started to integrate disaster management on its land use planning, but it is necessary to revisit the plan of each local government, especially so that the intensity of calamities is getting stronger these days.

The disaster mitigation planning requires hazard and vulnerability assessment. It means the identification and mapping of areas that are likely to be affected by natural hazards and risks, and the possible impacts these calamities may trigger. These include sites that are most vulnerable to landslides, flooding, volcanic eruption, earthquakes, tsunamis and storm surges.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, has initiated hazard mapping and this information is very useful for LGUs in updating their land use plans.

Serious options should now be considered for settlements that are actually situated in high-risk areas. This is where the support of the government, both local and national, is needed in providing suitable relocation sites for communities that may likely be affected by calamities.

This is particularly important to those who are settled in four-kilometer permanent danger zone of volcanoes, riverbanks, steep and mountainous areas and coastal zones. Communities in these areas are usually hesitant to be relocated because of possible economic dislocations. (To be continued)*

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