When Yolanda crossed Western Visayas on that fateful day of November 8, 2013, the agricultural sector of the municipality of Batad in the province of Iloilo was heavily affected, with hectares upon hectares of corn and rice fields blown away by the typhoon’s massive winds.
Indeed, superstorms such as Yolanda can exact a heavy blow to small communities like Batad which thrives on farming and aquaculture to support its economy. But it is also important to admit that powerful typhoons are products of a much larger phenomenon whose effects are too extensive to ignore.
As countries like the Philippines adapt to the “new normal” set by climate change, there is a need for rural areas to prioritize mitigating measures in response to the erratic weather. Hence, alongside post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts being undertaken in Batad, the town is also a beneficiary of weather monitoring equipment courtesy of the Panay Rural Development Center Inc. (PRDCI) as part of its ReBUILD Batad project for sustainable development in the aftermath of Yolanda.
Recently, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Ma. Theresa Sayat said the town also acquired a solar-powered weather station through PRDCI. The equipment includes a solar panel, a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station and a power inverter. The weather station effectively tracks humidity, temperature, barometric pressure and other weather indicators. Radical changes in each indicator are analyzed and monitored to create accurate weather forecasts.
Sayat said that the municipality and the PRDCI maintains a bulletin board in the municipal hall that is updated every 10 days with data from the weather station. This is to inform townsfolk, especially farmers and fisherfolk, of anticipated weather disturbances so that they can plan their activities ahead of time.
In addition, PRDCI Livelihood Facilitator Maria Sunshine Artisal said that the non-government organization also donated a 144 mhz FM transceiver which allows the personnel behind the weather station to directly contact barangays in the event of emergencies. She added that all the 25 barangays of the municipality have transceivers.
For Cesar Lariza, 53, the equipment means all the difference when it comes to preparing for climatic changes, especially with the onset of El Nino this year.
“This is good as it allows us to fully know what to expect. We cannot rely just looking at the clouds to know what is going on,” said Lariza, who also chairs the Batad Corn-based Farmers and Scientists Association, one of many farmer associations in the town.
Additional support was provided to the farmers through the Italian Development Cooperation, which funded 26 hand tractors and 13 rice threshers in collaboration with the Iloilo provincial government, Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. and Action Aid International. (RCArguelles/Yolanda PMO)