LAOAG CITY – Ilocos Norte is responding to the damage dealt by the recent Typhoon Ompong by springing into green initiatives. Through a cash-for-work program that provides income to participating community members, the region is seeking to repair the environmental loss brought by “Ompong’s” heavy winds and rainfall.
Hustler Garalde of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) said Wednesday that many of the office’s programs have resumed, such as the distribution of indigenous tree seedlings for planting in vacant lots and in the province’s mountainous areas.
Towns Badoc, Pinili, and Nueva Era have already received environmental aid in the form of hundreds of saplings to begin reforestation efforts, said Geralde. These areas were among some of the hardest hit by “Ompong”. Typhoon victims can plant these saplings in exchange for a fee provided by the provincial government’s cash-for-work program, giving additional means of income for citizens who may have lost theirs through the storm.
Besides providing employment, these efforts to reforest devastated areas aim to eventually build higher environmental resiliency. Greater forest cover could help diminish some disasters associated with typhoon season, such as flooding or landslides.
The wake of previous typhoons saw more than 15,00 beneficiaries participate in similar programs, leading to accelerated recuperation for the area’s environment. The provincial government employs these beneficiaries to plant indigenous and fruit-bearing trees in crucial areas like public lots and near watershed areas, specifically from Badoc to Pagudpud in the northernmost parts of Ilocos Norte.
Besides tree planting, the cash-for-work program hosted by the provincial government offers a salary based on prevailing regional wages in exchange for other forms of service such as repair and reconstruction of damaged houses and community facilities, cleanup of the disaster’s aftermath, and garbage collection.
Victims of previous typhoons who then became participants of the program received a monthly stipend of PHP3,000.