LOS BAÑOS, Philippines – The Province of Laguna in the Philippines, though it has a relatively low exposure to climate change threats, continues to become highly vulnerable because of its low capacity to adapt to typhoons and floods, a recent study shows.
This study, conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), under the auspices of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, started in May 2011 and will be completed in December 2013. It is part of a multi-country project titled “Building Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change in Southeast Asia” which aims to capacitate three Southeast Asian countries—Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam—in research, planning, and action with regard to climate change adaptation.
One component of the study, led by Engr. Vicente G. Ballaran, Jr., an assistant professor at the College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology of UPLB, aims at building local capacity to adapt to climate change, especially in vulnerability assessment and adaptation analysis, as a means to address the issues regarding the negative impacts of extreme climate events.
Twelve municipalities and a total of 274 barangays in the province of Laguna were studied to create vulnerability maps. These municipalities include Bay, Calauan, Liliw, Los Baños, Magdalena, Majayjay, Nagcarlan, Pagsanjan, Pila, Rizal, Sta. Cruz, and Victoria. As an output, Engr. Ballaran and his team were able to produce maps of each community’s relative vulnerability to climate change.
The study looked at three factors: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of each municipality under study. The results showed that among the topographic classifications, coastal and lowland areas were the most exposed areas to climatic hazards like typhoons and floods. Likewise, coastal areas were the most vulnerable in terms of sensitivity or the degree to which the community is affected by climate change stressors.
Moreover, the study considered infrastructure, economic, technological, social, and human factors to reflect the municipalities’ adaptive capacity. Results showed that Magdalena, Calauan, and Majayjay were the most vulnerable municipalities because of the communities’ low ability to adjust their practices and behavior to reduce the impacts of climate change. On the other hand, Los Baños, Pagsanjan, and Victoria had the highest adaptive capacity among the municipalities under study.
Engr. Ballaran noted that identifying the vulnerable areas in Laguna is relevant to avoid extreme climatic events that may lead to devastation of livelihood means, wreckage of houses, buildings, and other structures, destruction of natural resources and biodiversity, and death among affected populations. He further emphasized that all these negative impacts translate to huge economic losses that could be detrimental to food security.
The results of this study are expected to help the local government units (LGUs) in Laguna to identify and prioritize appropriate adaptation projects to increase each municipality’s adaptive capacity, and therefore, reduce the impacts of climate change.
Engr. Ballaran’s presentation of his study titled “Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping of Selected Municipalities in Laguna, Philippines” was part of the Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) of SEARCA. The seminar was held at the SEARCA Drilon Hall on 13 August 2013. (Mark Vincent P. Aranas)