Heat, lack of water blamed for deaths, violent conflicts

|May 02,2016 - 10:56 PM

THE Cebu Provincial Rapid Assessment Team has blamed the intense heat and lack of water due to the El Niño phenomenon for the deaths, conflicts and health concerns in the province.

In its assessment report as of May 2, the team reported seven physical altercations in Bantayan Island and 40 individual conflicts over access to water sources, stolen livestock and relief packs.

The team also said heatstroke may have caused the death of seven people. The fatalities were from Bantayan Island, San Remigio, and the first district.

But Dr. Cynthia Genosolango, head of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), said these deaths may not have been solely caused by the El Niño phenomenon although the high temperature may have aggravated their health conditions.

“Pwede siya (It could be) heatstroke-related but not necessarily heatstroke, per se,” she said.

“Kay pwede man na na-stroke, na heart-attack, kanang mu-taas gyud ug maayo ang blood pressure because of the extreme heat or dehydration mismo (It is possible that the victims had a stroke or heart attack and their blood pressure shot up because of the extreme heat or dehydration). So it could be heatstroke-related deaths but not heatstroke per se,” she added.

Genosolango said the children and elderly are most susceptible to heatstroke, the symptoms of which are similar to dehydration such as increased temperature, nausea, and altered mental state or behavior.

She urged the public to drink plenty of fluids.

“Kung kuwang gud ta sa body fluids, ma-affected man ang functions sa atong vital organs (If we lack body fluids, our vital organs are affected),” she said.

COMPLAINTS

Common health complaints gathered by the assessment team included cough and colds; fever and flu; diarrhea, stomachache, and spasms; skin diseases; hypertension; sore eyes; and vector-borne diseases such as dengue.

The report also cited two children who had to drop out of school because the parents lost their income after their crops were damaged.

The dry spell caused by El Niño has forced some families to rely more on root crops in their diet as well as stock, recycle and boil water. Those who do not have their own toilets resorted to sharing toilets with neighbors, using public toilets, or relieving themselves anywhere.

There is still enough water for household use, but the lack of water has severely affected agricultural farms and livestock.

The team said damage to crops, livestock and fisheries has reached P227.2 million.

The mango sector has been most affected, as damage reached P151 million. Other crops that sustained damage were vegetables, P34 million; corn, P30 million; bananas, P2.2 million; rice, P1.1 million; and other crops at P861,151. Livestock damage was estimated at P6.7 million while the fisheries sector incurred losses of P759,100.

Eric Lopez, training division head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said these have yet to be validated by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Ang DA 7 nagpatawag ug meeting together with all the municipal agriculture officers sa tibuok Cebu, apil diha ang PDRRMO and our CPRAT team leaders,” he said.

“Mao na, i-validate ni siya tanan. So once and for all, by that time, by Friday, ma-firm up na ni siya tanan kay naa sila’y kaugalingon nga form on how to compute the damages,” he added.

The team’s assessment was based on the reports from 40 municipalities. Cebu has a total of 51 local government units (LGUs).

INTERVENTIONS

PDRRMO head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said they conducted cloud-seeding operations last week, which caused moderate to slightly heavy rains in the mountain barangays of Cebu City, Balamban, Asturias, and in the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL) that includes Buhisan Dam, Mananga Watershed Forest Reserve, Kotkot-Lusuran Watershed Forest Reserve, and the Sudlon National Park.

Cloud seeding operations will continue this week, Tribunalo said.

The province, however, has yet to distribute relief assistance to affected farmers. Tribunalo said they were still waiting for the purchase order and check to be signed by Emmanuel Guial, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office, who was on leave.

The provincial government has sought exemption from the election ban on distribution of relief goods, but has yet to hear from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Acting Cebu provincial election supervisor Eliseo Labaria said there was a big chance that an exemption would be granted.

“Dako ug chance kay dili man lang ang Cebu ang nangayo ana. Ang ubang mga probinsya sa Region 7 kay nangayo pud kay naigo pud sila ug El Nino (There is a big chance that it will be granted because aside from Cebu, other provinces in Region 7 have also sought exemptions),” Labaria said.

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