In February 2013, the University of the Philippines Baguio, through its Chancellor, entered into a partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP) to establish the Knowledge and Training Resource Center (KTRC) on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction which was to be housed at UP Baguio’s Cordillera Studies Center (CSC). Under the supervision of the CSC director, the KTRC was envisioned to be the Climate Change resource center for the Baguio-Benguet area and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
Without a doubt, the CAR needs a center like the KTRC. As a disaster-prone area, the region would benefit from the knowledge products that are in fact abundant elsewhere but for some reasons seem to be unavailable or inaccessible for most the region’s inhabitants, including their policymakers and policy implementers. As a geographic area where many of its inhabitants rely on agriculture for their livelihood, the CAR is also highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Sudden shifts in temperature can destroy a season’s harvest, threatening the economic well-being, if not survival, of farming households in CAR. Climate change also threatens the watersheds found in the region. This, alongside irresponsible human (i.e., anthropogenic) activities can lead to environmental degradation, aggravating the poverty problem and socio-economic inequalities in the region, and producing factors that contribute to conflicts within and between communities, within and between provinces and local government units.
In joining the UN WFP in this undertaking, UP Baguio declares its commitment to use its resources in the service of the region in confronting the challenge of climate change and disaster risk reduction. Cognizant that other institutions and agencies in the region have proved themselves highly capable in responding to disaster and post-disaster situations, UP Baguio dedicates its services mostly to disaster preparedness and other pre-disaster initiatives. In this area, UP Baguio feels it enjoys some comparative advantage. Drawing together faculty and research personnel from its three colleges and the Cordillera Studies Center, UP Baguio constituted a multi-disciplinary team of experts and dedicated people to develop modules on climate change and disaster risk reduction and to conduct related training workshops in CAR communities.
Professors mostly from UP Baguio’s College of Science (CS) are doing interesting work aimed at avoiding soil erosion, documenting landslides, monitoring the weather, establishing early warning systems, and assessing the vulnerability of communities, among others. Faculty from the College of Arts and Communication (CAC) are using their expertise to “popularize” climate change materials for mass consumption as part of the KTRC’s general objective of broadening people’s awareness of climate change. Meanwhile, faculty members of the College of Social Sciences (CSS) have focused their energies to highlight, among others, the social dimensions of climate change, the mandates of local government units under various national and international legal instruments and agreements, and the importance of psycho-social interventions especially in response to disaster-related traumas. Our ultimate goal is to make our communities resilient in the face of disasters and climate change.
Each module that you will be reading is the product of UP Baguio’s partnership with the UN WFP. It belongs to a set of modules developed by UP Baguio faculty and researchers primarily for people tasked with and dedicated to community capacity building for climate change and disaster risk reduction. The module should be seen as a workshop training module in a series following a logical sequence. Moreover, it should be seen as being part of a whole set of training modules, each one complementing the learning offered by the others. Thank you for finding the time to read this module.
ALEJANDRO N. CIENCIA, JR.
Director, Cordillera Studies Center
Project Leader, Knowledge and Training Resource Center
on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction