Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) welcomes Pnoy’s special attention to Disaster Risk Reduction
A week ago, PNoy told AFP and DND to prioritize DRR programs to save lives during calamities related to climate change. According to Philippine News Agency, this was the highlight of PNoy’s command conference held in Camp Aguinaldo.
Earlier this year, PNoy also ordered the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to conduct a thorough review of the country’s DRR measures.
“We’ve been calling for our leaders to prioritize DRR since CDRC started. The President’s act of support to DRR efforts is well appreciated,” said Lourdes Louella Escandor, executive director of CDRC.
In 2010, CDRC called on the then newly-sworn president to prioritize DRR on his first 100 days in office, releasing a statement challenging Pnoy to prioritize disaster preparedness and to fully implement the DRRM Act.
“It seems the President is responding to our call and is now putting a prime on DRR. We are hopeful that more concrete actions will be undertaken,” said Escandor.
Priority needs in DRR
Escandor shares priority needs of the Philippines in disaster risk reduction.
Mitigation strategies, she said, should be emphasized. “Both structural and non-structural approaches should be adopted to lessen the impact of disasters.”
“Hazard mapping must also be done for priority areas. In making hazard maps of local scale, it is best that community and scientific data are combined. Results of hazard mapping should be properly disseminated to population at risk,” Escandor added.
“Communication at the community level should also be strengthened to increase awareness and knowledge on the signs of incoming disasters,” she said.
CDRC also sees the following necessary: review of the policy implication of existing government disaster risk reduction programs as well as streamlining and enhancing strategies on disaster management; behaviour modification to lessen vulnerability and strengthen resiliency; and integration of basic disaster related courses into educational curriculum in all levels.
Strengthening capacities of vulnerable sectors
Escandor said that for DRR efforts to be effective, there is a need to strengthen the capacities of vulnerable sectors, especially the poor and the marginalized, to address the adverse effects of disasters.
CDRC does this through awareness-raising, trainings on community-based disaster risk reduction and management, disaster preparedness, sustainable agriculture and alternative sources of living, formation of disaster preparedness committees, tree planting, and backyard gardening, among others.
“These sectors are perennial victims of typhoons and other calamities. This 2011 we are expecting more typhoons and we don’t want them to become victims again,” Escandor stressed.
Last January, PAGASA announced that the country will be hit by stronger and more frequent typhoons due to La Nina phenomenon prevailing over the Pacific Ocean.
PAGASA also identified 9 areas that are at risk of flashfloods during the rainy season. These are Cagayan Valley, Aurora, Quezon, Bicol, Samar, Leyte, Surigao, Dinagat Island and Catanduanes.
“While we cannot stop these typhoons from coming, we can certainly mitigate its negative effects,” Escandor said.
*CDRC is an NGO that pioneered and continues to promote community-based disaster management in the Philippines since 1984.