Loren Urges PNoy to Invest in Disaster Risk Reduction and Make it Top Priority amid Climate Change

Senator Loren Legarda today urged President Aquino to allocate sufficient resources for disaster risk reduction (DRR) as she encouraged the government to fully implement an international action plan that provides a framework to effectively reduce risks to disasters.

Legarda, the UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia Pacific, is referring to the Hyogo Framework for Action or HFA, a ten-year blueprint for reducing risks to disasters worldwide that was adopted by 168 Member States of the United Nations, including the Philippines, in 2005.

“DRR is the first line of defense against climate risks. The implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action will certainly boost our disaster preparedness and resilience efforts as this plan provides us five priorities for action to substantially reduce disaster losses” she said.

The Senator explained that the HFA urges governments to (1) make DRR a priority; (2) know the risks and take action; (3) build understanding and awareness; (4) reduce risk; and (5) be prepared and ready to act.

In this light, Legarda has called for the immediate launch of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (NDRRMP) and the Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), which should be integrated into the local Comprehensive Land Use, Development and Annual Investment Plans.

“Communities and all local government units must learn from the experience of cities and municipalities affected by Sendong and begin reviewing their development plans, strengthening DRRM, and allocating funds to support DRRM initiatives,” Legarda said.

She also explained that communities must know the risks that they face and take actions based on that knowledge.

“Geo-hazard maps will tell us where it is unsafe to build homes. It is only logical not to build subdivisions in flood-prone areas or construct buildings along a fault line. Aside from building safe infrastructure, we must also institutionalize effective and efficient early warning systems that will allow people at risk to respond immediately, therefore averting deaths in disasters,” the Senator stressed.

“Also, to substantially reduce disaster losses, people at risk should be well-informed about measures they can take to reduce vulnerability. LGUs, with the help of media, schools and community-based organizations, must increase awareness of our people on disaster prevention,” she added.

Legarda also pointed out that there must be equal effort to reduce the underlying risk factors. For instance, the recent disaster in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan revealed the massive illegal logging operations that have exacerbated the effect of typhoon Sendong. Thus, protecting forests and wetlands in order to enhance the capacity of the environment to withstand hazards is a must.

Lastly, disaster preparedness must be strengthened through regular disaster preparedness exercises, such as evacuation drills, for fast and effective disaster response. Safe, timely and pre-emptive evacuation must be strictly undertaken to avoid casualties.

“The devastation caused by Sendong was amplified by the lack of preparedness. Thus, we need to ensure that political commitments to the HFA translate into concrete actions and measureable gains from national to local levels. We cannot afford to be short-sighted in the era of climate change and content ourselves with post-disaster relief and rehabilitation,” Legarda concluded.***