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Before clock stops ticking for poor tenants, women farmers

Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 12:10

UN climate change negotiations in Warsaw, Poland ended without enough good news for the poor countries and no sufficient funds committed for the Philippine typhoon Haiyan in particular. Harjeet Singh, ActionAid International Coordinator- Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change highlighted the appeal made by Climate Change Commissioner and Head of the Philippines delegation, Naderev Yeb Saño, to the delegates from 195 countries at the opening plenary for “humanity to rise to the occasion”. 

On the other hand UN agencies, Philippine government and non government organizations are on a tight rope. They are striving to respond to the Philippine typhoon Haiyan, as the  final cost of rebuilding from Hayian could reach $5.8 billion.The tenants and share croppers in particular are desperate to get an urgent support to rebuild their livelihoods. The crop losses from Haiyan are valued at $110 million, with overall agricultural losses double. And the cruel clock is ticking faster than before to ensure availability of agriculture input support to sow rice sowing timely.

While attending EFAST training in Bangkok and collating my thoughts for this blog and going through estimates from UNOCHA latest report on the Typhoon situation dated November 25, 2013 made me to think the time that would be required to rebuild lives of affected communities.

The report highlighted that an estimated 2.5 million people are in need of life-saving food assistance. In addition, an estimated 90 per cent of the rural population consisting of small farmers urgently requires agricultural inputs before the planting season ends in January. It would be very important to see how high-level national taskforce formed by the government to ensure fast track transition from relief efforts to rehabilitation and rebuilding of the affected areas deliver.

To rebuild livelihoods of farmers, the government has requested support to provide an estimated 1,920 tons of rice seeds, 330 tons of corn seeds, 2,200 tons of fertilizers, 11,000 agricultural tool kits and 1,400 small irrigation water pumps to severely affected farmers. However, it seems small scale farmers especially women farmers are not in the government radar.

The other worst hit sector was fisheries based livelihoods but pity is that no funds have been committed to restore fisheries based livelihoods. Although, the loss is immense and has severe consequences. I have a firm believe we can play an important role to influence the government and other agencies to include tenants, women farmers in the agriculture compensation and land rehabilitation plans.

The possible threats on the poor small scale farmers especially women farmers, fisher folks   due to Typhoon had taken me back to 2010 where the unprecedented floods in Pakistan caused a colossal damage to agriculture and land. Similar issues emerged like loss and contamination of stored food and seed, silting of agriculture land, damage of irrigation structure and water logging. This resulted in increased number of hungry people as they were not able to cultivate their land. 

The cruel clock is ticking faster than before and the Typhoon impact might get wild for the tenants small scale farmers and fisher folks who are the most marginalized and excluded. If timely measures are not taken, required agriculture inputs will not be provided to clear irrigation channels and repair damaged agricultural infrastructure, support to rehabilitate the fishing community.