Quantcast
Latest Stories

Disaster risk reduction can be done

By

As we face the difficult task of recovering and rebuilding from the devastation caused by Typhoon “Pablo” in Mindanao, we ought to revisit the tragedies of the past and relearn the lessons we seem to never learn: Community awareness and action in disaster risk reduction, sound development planning and the political will to make things happen can make the difference in saving lives and building a safe and resilient community.

When the heavy rains of Typhoon “Gener” triggered major landslides in the populated barangay of Cunsad in Alimodian, Iloilo, last July, roads and farmlands were destroyed, yet no lives and limbs were lost. We wonder: How was this possible? What role did the local government play in saving human lives?

In this Iloilo town, the natural signs of an impending landslide such as ground fissures and displacement showed up as early as last year, which the municipal government under Mayor Juanito Alipao immediately reported to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for risk assessment.

Upon the advice of geologists to relocate residents, the local leadership acted quickly to explain the landslide threat to families at risk and to persuade them to heed the advice.

Residents grateful

In the aftermath of the devastating landslide in Cunsad, residents were grateful to the local government for having saved their lives and properties. Now, all 51 barangays of Alimodian have drawn up hazard-risk maps, aware of the dangers they face from typhoons and other natural hazards as well as how to keep safe from harm.

In hindsight, had the local governments acted promptly on the flood risk assessment for Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, and heeded the call to relocate residents at risk, the impact of Tropical Storm “Sendong” (international name: “Washi”) in December 2011 would not have been of unprecedented scale.

Another notable best practice in the country is the purok system in the municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, Cebu, which won the 2011 United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction.

The purok system focuses on addressing the vulnerability of every barangay by mobilizing local resources in creating practical solutions based on the unique needs of the community.

Residents are vigilant in implementing segregation at source—strictly enforcing their no-trash-segregation-no-collection policy, recycling, composting and the collection of payment for carbon taxes, which are based on the amount of domestic waste produced from day to day.

The town of San Francisco, along with Makati City and Albay province, is also among the UN’s 29 model communities worldwide in disaster-risk reduction (DRR) and management.

Makati was cited for integrating DRR practices and policies in its system of governance, most especially in urban planning, health programs, disaster response and risk governance, while Albay was recognized for its focus on preparing comprehensive land use plans that address climate and disaster risks, and investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure.

 

Mangrove reforested

In Montalban, Rizal, a group of women farmers have started to practice agroforestry to adapt to the prolonged wet season; while in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, women fisherfolk have reforested over a hundred hectares of mangrove to protect their settlements from storm surges and secure additional sources of food.

The townspeople of Hinatuan unclogged canals, cleaned up their surroundings and the seawater, and regulated plastic use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions through a waste management program that supported local compliance of the law.

Clearly, if these communities can effectively enforce our environmental laws and create strategies for climate change adaptation, there is no reason for other towns, cities or provinces to say that it cannot be done.

Constant assessment

Fundamentally, adapting to our fast-changing environment entails constant assessment of risk in our midst. It is high time that every local development plan seriously consider the threats posed by natural hazards and climate change, and aim at reducing exposure and losses in lives, livelihoods and properties. Hazard maps and risk assessments must be basic planning tools.

Pablo has unveiled the vulnerability of our Mindanao communities to typhoons, landslides and flash floods. At least 1,067 have lost their lives, while 2,666 are injured and 834 are still missing. The damage to agriculture, infrastructure and property now stands at well over P39 billion.

It is undeniable that this vulnerability is driven mostly by poverty, socioeconomic inequality and environmental degradation. Our local leaders, therefore, need to understand how disasters are woven inextricably in a vicious cycle with these three factors.

Poverty breeds disaster vulnerability as those who have least in life risk life most. It is the poor who are more likely to live in unsafe locations and in weakly built structures. It is the poor who suffer most with long-term consequences since they have less means to recover.

 

Making a difference

Thus, it is only in addressing altogether poverty, livelihood, environment and disaster risk that local governance can make a genuine difference.

With climate change and extreme weather events as the “new normal,” our country cannot afford recurring tragedies and disaster losses from storms such as Sendong and Pablo in Mindanao.

It is estimated that in every destructive typhoon season we lose as much as 2 percent of our GDP, further costing the country 2 percent for reconstruction or a combined economic setback of almost 5 percent every year.

As we welcome 2013, we hope to instill in the mind of every leader and citizen the wisdom to make our nation disaster-resilient to free us, once and for all, from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time nature unleashes its wrath.

Survival fund

We aim to have more workshops in 2013 for sharing of best practices among local government units, while providing information about the People’s Survival Fund, to build up resilience to natural hazards.

Climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness and risk reduction constitute our greatest humanitarian challenge. We can overcome these challenges if our mechanisms in place actually address the specific vulnerabilities present in each community.

Certainly, reducing disaster risk effectively for sustainable growth is a mark of good governance and good political leadership. To make a difference in this sphere is clearly the leadership challenge of our times.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Climate Change , disaster risk management , Disaster risk reduction , Global warming , Loren Legarda , Typhoon Gener , Typhoon Pablo




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  2. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  3. Massive infra spending set
  4. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  7. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  8. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  9. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  10. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • 9 confirmed dead after ferry sinks off South Korean coast
  • Aquino to public: Learn to sacrifice
  • 20 killed as Islamic extremists rampage in Nigeria
  • Drug firm Novartis to help Leyte firefighter
  • Sports

  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Manny Pacquiao in PBA? If so, he’ll wear No. 17
  • PSC sets Blu Girls US training
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • ‘Community’ star happy with return of show’s creator
  • Business

  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • PH seen to sustain rise in FDIs
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement