Bangsamoro Government’s MSSD Leads Response to El Niño Crisis: Insights and Initiatives Unveiled

(Screenshot of the MSSD’s Bangsamoro Muna At Your Service radio and online program)

COTABATO CITY (APRIL 30, 2024) – In the latest episode of “Welcome sa Bangsamoro Muna, MSSD at Your Service,” Racmah A. Abdula, RSW, MTSW- MSSD Chief of the Disaster Response and Management Division, shed light on the ongoing El Niño crisis during an interview on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

Abdula explained that the El Niño, characterized by below-normal rainfall conditions, has brought about adverse effects categorized into dry conditions, dry spells, and droughts. These phenomena, varying in duration, have significantly impacted crucial sectors such as water resources, agriculture, health, energy, and public safety, as highlighted by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

She disclosed that the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Bangsamoro region have not been spared from the repercussions, with some areas experiencing hardships leading to states of calamity declarations. “To help address the escalating crisis, the Bangsamoro Government has been issuing regular El Niño advisories, indicating its gradual weakening from March to May, with a potential transition to La Niña in the forthcoming months,” Abdula added.

According to PAGASA, across the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the effects are palpable. In April, dry conditions prevail in Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur, while dry spells affect Lanao del Sur and Sulu, and drought grips Tawi-Tawi. Looking ahead to May, dry spells are forecasted for Basilan and Sulu, while drought persists in Tawi-Tawi and Lanao del Sur.

“This isn’t a new ordeal, as El Niño has been wreaking havoc since the previous year, prompting collaborative efforts among various ministries to conduct rapid damage assessments and needs analyses across sectors like water, food, health, and more,” Abdula related.

In response, the resource person conveyed, “The Bangsamoro Government established the Bangsamoro Action Plan Team, focusing on critical areas such as water and food security, health management during outbreaks, energy resilience, and public safety.”

Emergency relief assistance programs, notably “Lingkod Pamayanan Para Sa Kapayapaan,” play a crucial role in providing immediate aid to affected families displaced by both natural disasters and human-made conflicts. MSSD’s innovative approach involves deploying para-social workers to assess affected families and households swiftly.

To ensure efficient response efforts, the MSSD Disaster Response Chief said coordination platforms have been established to facilitate collaboration among different ministries, offices, and agencies, preventing duplication of services and ensuring a targeted approach to address the needs of affected communities.

Abdula emphasized the importance of support for MSSD’s initiatives, urging understanding for the assessment process and the prioritization of limited resources to reach those most in need.

“Hinihingi namin yung suporta ng lahat at sa mga kasamahan din namin sa MSSD yung nabanggit ko na may mga Para-social workers tayo sa baba, may mga municipal social welfare officers, ay huwag po natin awayin dahil hindi yung pagka may pangangailangan immediate na maibigay nila yung pangangailangan natin. May proseso po na dinadaanan. So may mga assessment pa po yan kasi limited yung resources and then pina-prioritize namin sino yung mapapaabutan ng limited resources.”

[“We are asking for everyone’s support and also from our colleagues in MSSD as I mentioned that we have para-social workers below, there are municipal social welfare officers, so let’s not fight them because it is not when there is an immediate need, doesn’t mean they can provide immediately. There is a process that we go through. So there are still assessments because the resources are limited and then we prioritize who will be reached with the limited resources.”] (Sahara A. Saban, BMN/BangsamoroToday)

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