In line with this column’s objective of featuring impact stories from the Lopez Group’s CSR initiatives, here is one from the OML Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation Inc. (OML Center) headed by executive director Rodel Lasco, which formulates sciencebased policies regarding climate change and its effects. Lasco, doing his part in helping raise awareness on global warming and the water crisis as well as sending climate messages to the public, has been contributing opinion articles on climate change and its sciencebased impacts to select news sites such as the “Philippine Daily Inquirer” and appearing on ABSCBN’s “Red Alert.”
The youth are indeed concerned with climate change. And they are doing something about it.
In 2014, OML Center’s research grants funded a study called “Impact and Risk Analyses of Climate Variability on the Food and Environmental Security in Tarlac Province.” Its purpose was to create adaptation strategies to increase agricultural resilience in three municipalities: Paniqui, Ramos and Pura. This area in Tarlac has always been a “hot spot” that experiences biophysical and socioeconomic tensions as a result of such changes.
The actual experiences are validated using scientific global climate models or GCMs in order to improve the learning and awareness of those who will be affected.
The period of 1900-2009 was used for the assessment both for the impacts and risks of the natural and anthropogenic disasters, while a 60-year projection is performed for planning and policy-making.
Flood detector system
The focus on adaptation options and ways of enhancing agricultural resilience at the local level contributes to training or capacity building and local empowerment.
One of the main outputs of the study is the ultrasonic flood detector system that was designed as an early warning mechanism for flooding incidence.
The system monitors water levels through sound waves and alerts the residents through text messages once the water reaches threatening levels. Such advance warning reduces the exposure to flooding of the residents who are mostly farmers. The combination of natural, social and economic studies identifies a variety of options for management and policy reform.
These alternatives are then delivered as briefing materials to managers and decision makers in agricultural communities and society at large in Tarlac, according to the OML Center website. The strong partnership with the local government units and other stakeholders (community of farmers, people’s organizations and nongovernmental organizations) provide a strong scientific and political support for the development of effective science-based governance approaches.
The flood detector system was installed in three barangays: Salomague in Paniqui, Pance in Ramos and Cadanglaan in Pura.
The local governments of Tarlac as well as the study’s stakeholders commended the system for building the communities’ resilience against flooding and reducing agricultural vulnerability, said Perpilili Tiongson and Katherine Mae Sarmiento of OML Center.
The study hopes to install more ultrasonic flood detector systems across the country to increase Filipinos’ resilience to typhoons and other flood-related events.
The research project was headed by engineer Glenn Banaguas in partnership with junior research scientists from De La Salle Araneta University (DLSAU)-Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute (ECCRI).
According to Banaguas, he founded ECCRI because of his passion to reach out to the poorest of the poor through research. ECCRI is the only research institution in the country and in Southeast Asia that trains undergraduates to be involved in researches related to climate change and disaster risk.
“The junior research scientists of ECCRI are undergraduate students. Some of them were my students. I invited them…to be part of ECCRI. When they said yes, I also asked permission from their parents. I gave an orientation about the significance of the project; I explained how this project would help their children to learn more outside the university. It was about doing something outside their comfort zones and enhancing their skills and talents in research,” Banaguas said.
Due to the study’s functionality and efficiency, the junior research scientists from DLSAU were given the 2016 Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) of the Philippines Award at Malacañang Palace.
Banaguas also commended the stakeholders for supporting and cooperating with his team.
“They were very supportive. We explained the very essence of this scientific and humanitarian endeavor to their lives. It’s about making whole communities resilient, and taking care of their home and preparing them for the worst-case scenarios.”
He added: “Because of our sincerity, there was a behavioral change that happened among the stakeholders.”
In fact, the collaboration between community and scientists resulted in a strong bond, such that the team makes sure to visit them in Tarlac every year.
State of PH climate
This is just one of the outputs of OML Center as part of its mission to ensure that their science-based knowledge regarding various aspects of climate change and disaster mitigation leads to action.
The center has also published the country’s 2017 climate- and weather-related events, its fourth edition of “The State of the Philippine Climate” or SPC. The center’s findings show that the country experienced generally hotter- and wetter-than-normal conditions in 2017. The year also showed generally higherthan-normal rainfall conditions and above-average number of tropical cyclones that visited the Philippines.
For more information on OML Center, visit their website at www.omlopezcenter.org.