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Depensa launched in Surigao City

A community-driven campaign for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction was launched here with the optimism that Congress passes House Bill 3825 or the ‘People’s Survival Fund (PSF)’ as an urgent measure to allocate much-needed funding to address the damages by disasters occurring in the country.

The campaign, dubbed Depensa, which was spearheaded by Oxfam and the Institute
for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), aims to create high community awareness and action on the need for climate change adaptation and to call on government to take the lead in protecting public welfare and advancing real sustainable development in a climate changing world.

H.B. 3825 seeks to establish a fund dedicated to vulnerable local government and
communities struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing climate provided that plans are crafted as to how the identified local communities behave to the climate change adaptation.

"The PSF is critical to communities, who should not have to wait for the occurrence of climate change-induced calamities before they are able to access funds to cope with anticipated climatic impacts,” said HB 3825 author, Congressman Lorenzo Tanada III, who was the guest of honor of the event.

PSF, which is also a ‘rewards’ fund, would be a source of support for activities
of the disaster prone communities to conduct activities such as: farming localities to developing a small water impounding projects in anticipation of extreme drought or installing structures that reduce the harm of flashfloods; need to plant other crops that are more resilient to climate change; and coastal communities whose fishing livelihood may be displaced due to the rising sea levels.

“In Mindanao, the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt from extreme weather events that cause floods or severe drought, especially in the areas of Agusan Sur, Agusan Norte, and Sultan Kudarat, adversely affecting agricultural production and settlements. On the other hand, coastal communities in Surigao Sur are in danger of rising sea and tidal levels,” according the Marie Madamba-Nunez of Oxfam.

Oxfam’s Mindanao Program currently supports partners in ensuring that sustainable livelihoods of small rural producers are protected and resilient from natural and human-induced disasters in selected areas in the region.

Climate change impacts in the Philippines are expected to intensify the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which are projected to hit vulnerable communities, particularly women in rural areas, disproportionately.

Most of the deadliest and damaging typhoons that hit the Philippines occurred in
the last two decades, with an estimated cost of over P92 billion in direct damages. Yet the cost of devastation brought about just by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng to crops, property and infrastructure was estimated to be around P207 Billion. Costs linked to the devastation wrought by typhoon Juan reached almost P12 billion, largely hitting rice production.

“These figures are staggering. If we do not have these destructive typhoons, we could have used it to other projects but are diverted instead to disaster response and rehabilitation,” Tanada said.

"We expect the Depensa! campaign to contribute key lessons and opportunities during this critical time, when government is undertaking discussions about the country's budget and its medium-term development plan," said Red Constantino of ICSC.

Depensa was launched here because this city, as well as almost all provinces and municipalities of Caraga Region, is a disaster-prone area. (Bong D. Fabe)

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