For Northern Samar, October opened with heavy rains brought by Typhoon Jenny. This is just one of the several tropical storms that the province has to face every year, making it one of the provinces in the Philippines most at risk to typhoons and heavy rainfall according to a 2023 World Bank report.
Recognizing its vulnerabilities to climate change and disasters, the province has stepped up its commitment to build resilience in the province. It has recently partnered with the Strengthening Institutions and Empowering Localities Against Disasters and Climate Change in the Philippines (SHIELD), a program supported by the Australian Government that aims to accelerate resilience-building efforts at the local level by collaborating with multiple stakeholders to unlock financing opportunities and implement risk-informed resilience actions.
In the 2023 Philippine Urban Forum, held recently on October 5-6 in Pasay City, Northern Samar Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator and Environmental Planner Jay Keenson Acebuche highlighted the importance of climate and disaster risk profiling for prospects of nature-based solutions in resilience building.
EnP. Acebuche elaborated on the key hazards that Northern Samar face in its economic center in Catarman City and key settlement areas in the municipalities of Pambujan, Laoang, and Palapag, noting that these localities are highly susceptible to flooding, typhoons, and rain-induced landslides.
He also noted that proper and anticipatory planning is necessary for the province’s protected areas in the Nalukaban Peatland and the Biri-Lavazares-Rosario seascape and landscape to preserve biodiversity, and prevent deterioration and sustain ecosystem services. Considering these realities and looking toward implementing nature-based solutions, EnP. Acebuche emphasized that risk-informed planning will sufficiently consider natural breaks in the province’s ecosystem and will allow them to analyze interventions for climate resilience planning.
Currently, Northern Samar is completing its provincial risk profile with support from UN-Habitat Philippines through the SHIELD Programme.
SHIELD is implemented by UNDP Philippines together with its consortium partners UN-Habitat, Philippine Business for Social Progress, National Resilience Council, and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, with the Department of the Interior and Local Government Philippines as the lead government agency.
Under SHIELD, UN-Habitat takes the lead in working with provinces to prepare risk and resilience-informed plans, allowing LGUs to structure better investment programs and access financing that strengthen disaster and climate resilience.
Previously during the signing of agreement with the Provincial Government of Northern Samar, Gov. Edwin Ongchuan expressed support as SHIELD will supplement the province’s current disaster risk reduction and management efforts to help strengthen their provincial resilience building.
In its six-year implementation, Northern Samar is one of the 11 provinces SHIELD will partner, together BARMM and Metro Manila, for strengthening resilience through risk-informed multi-stakeholder actions.