Disaster risk can be reduced through S&T - Angara
Manila (27 November) -- Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that the establishment of the Disaster Science Management Center (DSMC) should be a national priority in order to better prepare the nation for the dealing with the multiple disasters that hit the country.
"We need the DSMC to help us prepare for the typhoons and similar disasters that will continue to threaten the country. The government needs to be able to understand how to develop an advanced and real-time information dissemination strategy so people can better prepare to handle such events," noted Angara.
Angara has recommended P100 million under the DOST national budget for 2011 for the establishment of the Disaster Center. The DOST budget is scheduled to be heard in plenary next week.
Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), noted that the DSMC is envisioned to become a regional hub for disaster science where our scientists can help prepare officials and LGU's to handle natural calamities.
COMSTE has prioritized the creation of the DSMC and is working with the Manila Observatory (MO) to finalize proposals for its foundation.
The center is set to become a training center that will focus on scenario-type learning utilizing technology for disaster mitigation and management. Taiwan and Japan are already actively cooperating with training of local experts.
The DSMC is set to be a public-private initiative that the scientific community can use to better understand the mechanics of managing disasters with the cooperation of neighboring countries that have experienced similar storms and natural calamities as the Philippines.
Meeting the MDGS
Angara noted that the United Nations (UN) called for countries in Asia to spend more on disaster risk measures in order to be able to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of improving healthcare and education and reducing poverty by 2015.
A UN statement indicated that in 2009, Asia accounted for about 40 percent of more than 330 natural disasters around the world but 89 percent of victims, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters said.
Disaster damage costs have shot up to nearly $1 trillion dollars from $75.5 billion in the 1960s, and 85 percent of people in developing countries across the world are exposed to quakes, typhoons, floods and drought, it reported.
Margareta Wahlstrom, U.N. special representative on disaster risk reduction, said at a meeting of Asian parliamentarians in Manila that governments needed to allocate at least 1 percent of their budget toward disaster risk reduction projects.
"Disaster risk reduction will contribute to reducing poverty through ensuring that people's assets are not destroyed during disasters, particularly in countries where there is very low insurance coverage," Wahlstrom said, adding insurance coverage was insufficient in about 70 percent of countries.
"If we are going to achieve MDG targets for which governments have allocated some budget, perhaps we could consider increasing disaster risk reduction funds; otherwise you can't achieve these goals," she said.
Angara said that, "we need to adopt a pro-active approach in order to properly address this problem. A scientific approach supported by extensive research has already led me to appropriate PHP 100M from the budget for the establishment of a Philippine Disaster Science Center, roughly PHP40M of which is allocated for a proposed Disaster Science Management Center."
The Disaster Science Project aims to upgrade the current capabilities of government to forecast weather, send out reliable warnings, and to ultimately prepare the country and the populace upon the onset of disastrous events, and to and rehabilitate on the aftermath of such events.
Aside from Disaster science, COMSTE priority projects for 2011 include Telemedicine, Remote-Sensing for Agriculture, Electronic Vehicles and Green Transport.
"The resilience of an entire country rests on the building of resilience and adaptability of each of its vulnerable areas, such as food and energy, and the sources of each, public health, infrastructure and communication systems." (COMSTE) [top]