Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Philippines through UN’s Urgent Call for Support

The United Nations (UN) has voiced its solidarity with the Philippine government in the face of a severe drought triggered by El Niño, emphasizing the urgent need for increased support to bolster climate resilience efforts. Reena Ghelani, the Climate Crisis Coordinator for El Niño/La Niña Response at the UN, along with Gustavo Gonzalez, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, highlighted the profound impact of the ongoing El Niño-induced drought and stressed the critical importance of enhanced assistance.

The current El Niño episode, one of the strongest in history, has brought dry conditions and high temperatures across Southeast Asia, affecting 41 provinces in the Philippines. Nearly 31 others face dry spells or dry conditions, impacting over 1.4 million people and potentially leading to below-average harvests. The government has established a national Task Force led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, focusing on water, food security, health, and energy to address these challenges.

In collaboration with humanitarian and development partners, the UN has been actively supporting the Philippines’ El Niño relief efforts. Initiatives such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Oxfam Pilipinas’ Anticipatory Action programs aim to provide immediate support to affected communities in anticipation of drought impacts. The World Food Program (WFP) has also worked on water sufficiency and food security through infrastructure projects, while private sector initiatives monitored by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) focus on food and water security.

Reena Ghelani emphasized the importance of early action in disaster response, particularly in the face of more frequent and severe climate shocks. The Philippines, one of the most disaster-prone countries globally, faces significant economic losses due to climate change impacts. The UN’s cooperation framework with the government emphasizes building resilience, with ongoing efforts to recalibrate technical assistance through initiatives like the Enhancing Resilient Communities flagship program.

During her visit to the Philippines, Ghelani engaged with various stakeholders, including the National Task Force on El Niño, humanitarian teams, the Philippine Red Cross, and local communities. Discussions centered on strengthening community resilience, climate-related investments, and collaborative efforts to address climate challenges in the region.