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Early action helps women in farming communities vulnerable to drought

The EWEA project aims to safeguard the livelihoods of rice farmers by providing them with irrigation systems and climate-resilient farm inputs.

©FAO/Joseph Agcaoili

As early as January 2019, farming communities in the municipalities of Pigkawayan in North Cotabato and Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao, both located on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines, have started early action planning to prepare for dry conditions brought on by El Niño. This El Niño has been affecting the country since March, and its effects will likely last through August 2019.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with support from the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium, has been implementing an Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) project to protect the livelihoods of rice farmers in selected vulnerable areas in Mindanao against the potential for extremely dry conditions. Through this project FAO conducted planning workshops and activities with farmers, including women, in Pigkawayan and Datu Saudi Ampatuan, which are among the areas most vulnerable to the impacts of El Niño.

Impacts of El Niño

El Niño conditions started developing in the last quarter of 2018, and by February 2019 the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) upgraded the status from “El Niño Watch” to “El Niño”.  This indicated that a weak El Niño was present and that drought and dry spells would likely persist through August 2019. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s latest report from May 2019 indicates that a total of 393 455 people have already been affected, mostly in Mindanao. Reports of damage to agriculture have amounted to more than USD 153.3 million (PHP 7.96 billion), affecting 247 610 farmers. In addition, a total of 43 local government units have declared States of Calamity due to the dry spell.

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