09/01/2022, 11.22
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Typhoons and floods rob Manila of 5% of its agricultural production every year

by Stefano Vecchia

A study ranks the Philippines as the fourth nation most affected by water-related disasters. It estimates an average annual GDP loss of 0.7% linked to climate change. Right now there is alarm over the combined effects of the tropical depression Gardo and the super-typhoon Hinnamnor.

Manila (AsiaNews) - On the World Day of Prayer for Creation - which Pope Francis recalled yesterday at the general audience - the Philippines is having to reckon with the simultaneous presence in the northern regions of the archipelago of the tropical depression Gardo and the super-typhoon Hinnamnor ("Henry" according to the Filipino classification), so far the biggest in 2022, with winds expected up to 200 kilometres per hour and a destructive potential similar to that of the category 5 hurricanes in the American area.

Despite the recurrence of these phenomena in the history of the Philippines, today's anomalies are evident with an increasing unpredictability in the evolution and intensity of weather phenomena.

All this is reopening the internal debate on the archipelago's accentuated fragility: a new study, with updated data, underlines the environmental risks and economic costs. The latter are of absolute importance, even more so for a country far from an accomplished development that last year saw a total Gross Domestic Product of 394 billion dollars, of which 31.4 made up of emigrants' remittances.

The economic consequence of the increasing siege of potentially devastating weather phenomena is quantified at 4 billion by mid-century, with an average annual loss of 0.7 per cent of GDP. The same study ('Aquanomics: The economics of water risk and future resilience'), published by the global professional services company Ghd, ranks the Philippines as the fourth most affected nation in the world by water-related disasters, including some 20 typhoons of high intensity resulting in torrential rains and extensive flooding.

No economic sector is spared, but under pressure already now and increasingly will be agricultural production with losses indicated as 5% per annum for 2030 and 8% in 2050, compared to agriculture's contribution currently exceeding 10% of the national wealth produced.

Already, water supply and management in the Philippines is under severe pressure with 3 million inhabitants using unsafe water sources and another 7 million lacking access to adequate sanitation. Protecting at-risk areas and strengthening prevention and assistance services for affected populations are other priorities, although improvement in this respect has been remarkable, especially after the devastation caused by Typhoon Hayan in November 2013. Even in these hours, emergency services at national and local level are operating in the areas most exposed to the fury of the water and wind.

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