Belgium supports FAO’s early actions to protect the livelihoods of rice farmers in Mindanao against potential El Niño

Belgium supports FAO’s early actions to protect the livelihoods of rice farmers in Mindanao against potential El Niño

18/12/2018

The Philippines is frequently affected by natural disasters. The social and economic cost of natural disasters in the country is increasing due to population growth, change in land-use patterns, migration, unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation and global climate change. The Philippine archipelago is constantly at risk of a multitude of hazards including earthquakes (as the country sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire), volcanic eruptions, drought, cyclones, floods and tsunamis.

In response to the potentially adverse impacts of drought brought about by El Niño to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, the Government of Belgium, through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), generously contributed to FAO to pilot an Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) initiative to protect the livelihoods of rice farmers in selected areas of Mindanao.

This project builds on the piloting of a drought EWEA system established in February 2018, in particular on two municipalities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces in Mindanao. These two areas were selected due to their high vulnerability rates, combined with their high exposure to drought. When affected by El Niño, the Philippines alternate climatically between intense droughts and typhoons. As the climate changes, the Southern Oscillation is increasing in frequency and severity, and in turn increasing the intensity of natural disasters. Such changes are testing the traditional resilience methods of the country and being able to protect the population from these shocks is becoming increasingly challenging.

FAO aims to assist 1 500 small-scale farming families who on average cultivate 1 ha of land each through early actions for drought in order to protect their rice production by providing irrigation systems and inputs, and offering alternative livelihoods such as livestock farming and high-value commercial crops to prevent asset depletion and increase resilience.

This project will be implemented in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and concerned local government units. FAO will utilize the early warning system designed as a monitoring tool to build evidence and confidence about the development and potential impact of El Niño. The system has been set up to provide timely information in advance, ensuring enough lead time is provided to launch and implement early actions on the ground.

Thanks to this partnership, FAO is able to develop early actions together with government partner agencies and stakeholders to protect vulnerable farmers against the extreme weather conditions brought by the impending El Niño.