Imminent water shortage

A couple of days ago, I was in Manila City near the Luneta Park and my vehicle recorded an outside (the vehicle) temperature of 41 degrees centigrade at 1 p.m. If the said temperature is applied to a human being, the latter is already burning with high fever. No wonder, we cannot stay long outdoors without feeling any inconvenience such as sweating and heat felt on our skins.

The Philippines is a tropical country and during summer or dry months, we have been experiencing hot, humid days. During these months, it is best to stay indoors during the hours before and after noon time to avoid being “sunburned” and more importantly avoid heat stroke.

Let us not be too technical or scientific, but there is a looming El Niño phenomenon in the country forecasted to set by June, July or August until the first quarter of next year. The “long dry spell” is very imminent this year according to weather experts and it might likely affect us until beyond the supposed end of summer this year. On the other hand, we might not experience rain during the rainy season.

The El Niño is a great threat not only to our daily lives but to agriculture and our food supply as well. It is likewise expected to aggravate the present water crisis in our country where there is a shortage in clean and potable water especially in the National Capital Region and in urbanized cities in the country.

In agriculture where the majority of Filipinos rely for livelihood and food source, the extended dry months will definitely affect production as farmers shall need water for crops. While some have water-impounding machineries, many merely rely on rainwater to sustain their crops. Those with sustained water supply, will most likely have better yield.

Rivers and streams, because of the dry spell, will most likely dry up brought about by the extended dry months and the lack of rain. There are these kinds of bodies of water which are sources of fresh water fishes for some. Without this water, there will be no fishes for them. In the countryside, there are some who live by these tributaries and rely on these for food.

In our country, rice is a staple food and rice production is a vital activity of farmers feeding Filipinos. If rice production is affected by the prolonged summer and the lack of water for farmlands, there might not be enough supply of rice for Filipinos. We have to resort then to importation and rely on our neighbor countries who learned so much techniques from our farming experts in the country.

Irrigation to our farms may be a solution. However, the cost of fuel for machinery is an added burden to the already heavily burdened farmers. The cost of farming inputs is often far higher than the profits from the outputs. This is the poor plight of farmers. Irrigation fuel is on a wrong timing as its cost is still on its high since last year.

The El Niño brings unusually heavy rains in other countries while the dry spell in the Philippines can become extreme, to the point of “burning” things like crops. Livestock meanwhile are likewise affected because of the dried grass and foliage due to this phenomenon. The less grass for them to feed, the lesser their propagation.

While there is still time before the expected drought, we need serious water resource management. The government should impose penalties to those who waste water in less important activities. Our experts should look for other means of potable water aside from our underground sources.

The recent typhoon Betty could have been the answer to the drying lands in Luzon and other parts of the country. However, it has affected only the northeastern portion of the country, sadly with some devastation. Although we experience some occasional rains lately, it is not enough to fill in the lack. Summer is still here.


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