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UNDERSTANDING HAZARDS: THE CASE OF UPPER COGCOGA

Cogcoga 1

Unregulated urban development in the area contribute to the increase of concreted land which reduces the natural soil seepage

 

UNDERSTANDING HAZARDS: The Case of Upper COGCOGA in Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) defined hazard as “a dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity or condition that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage”. 

Moreover, UNISDR published in its book of terminologies, that hydrometeorological hazard is a process or phenomenon of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage. Hydrometeorological hazards include tropical cyclones (also known as typhoons and hurricanes), thunderstorms, hailstorms, tornados, blizzards, heavy snowfall, avalanches, coastal storm surges, floods including flash floods, drought, heatwaves and cold spells. Hydrometeorological conditions also can be a factor in other hazards such as landslides, wildland fires, locust plagues, epidemics, and in the transport and dispersal of toxic substances and volcanic eruption materials.

An unfortunate incident that happened in La Trinidad, Benguet were the flashfloods caused by the heavy and prolonged precipitation brought by Typhoon Fabian on July 28-30, 2021 and was aggravated by the continuous monsoon rains during the period July 20 -August 8, 2021.  These factors caused an overflow of water and debris that flooded Km 3, Halsema Highway and rendered it impassable to motor vehicles; it also flooded some establishments and houses nearby.  On October 11-12, 2021, the same hazard reoccurred within a span of twenty-four hours because of the tremendous amount of rainfall Tropical Storm “Maring” poured.

In response to these incidences, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region (MGB-CAR), together with the investigating team composed of representatives from the Office of the Civil Defense-Cordillera Administrative Region (OCD-CAR), the Environmental Management Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region (EMB-CAR), and the Local Government of La Trinidad (LGU-LT) conducted an investigation of the area. 

It has been observed that the overflow was a result of insufficient drainage at the foot of the slope in the area; the water and debris formed a bottleneck at the lone drainage canal traversing the road which should flow to Balili River.  Noted sinkholes in the area functioned as the natural water drainage system before.  However, decades of unregulated development and construction in the area, eventually proved to be detrimental.  Houses and buildings were continually constructed in the area but a much-needed drainage system was not put in place to cater to the rising demands of urban development.

Affected residents in the area recounted that these flashfloods were a first for them and if not addressed immediately and carefully, will surely be not the last.

The case of Upper Cogcoga is a manifestation that urban development must be carefully approached and all possible hazards fully understood in order to ensure that adaptive and preventive mechanisms may be placed to prevent reoccurrences of disastrous events. It is also an imperative that collaborative comprehensive urban development plans among neighboring local governments be crafted and strictly implemented to prevent hazardous incidents from happening in the future.  All future development must therefore be approached with disaster risk prevention and climate change resiliency in mind.

By: Sheila May V. Sanqui with reports from Kelvin Carlo S. Gaerlan and Jelson Fitzgerald D. Edduba