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PIA Press Release

OCD: Disaster risk management an effective tool against climate change

by Lito Dar

Baguio City (10 September) -- Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng successively hit the country in a span of two weeks, which resulted in loss of hundreds human lives and millions worth of damages to properties, infrastructures and agricultural products. Is this a result of climate change? Some experts agree, others don't, though whatever is the answer, we need to make our communities more resilient to disasters.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD-CAR), Regional Director Olivia Luces stressed in two forums last week- Department of Health (DOH) on Climate Change and Cordillera Regional Disaster Coordinating Council Technical Working Group (CRDCC-TWG) forum on Climate Change, that building the resilience of communities to disasters through Disaster Risk Management Plan, is a very effective tool against climate change.

The OCD, mandated to protect lives and properties, not only during the times of war but also during disasters, has already shifted from reactive emergency management to a more pro-active disaster risk management in 2005, in line with the government's Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and the United Nation's Millennium Development Goal (UNMDG).

Luces explained that Disaster Risk Management is more pro-active as it covers both pre-disaster and post-disaster actions. "It includes mitigation, preparedness, response and rehabilitation, which are keys in building the resilience of communities to disaster, as well as for poverty reduction," she said.

Luces also stressed that Disaster Risk Management centers on three focus areas namely impacts of hazards on social system, role of knowledge and education, and the importance of indigenous knowledge to disaster risk reduction; and Capability building for national and local resilience.

For disaster risk reduction, Luces stressed the importance of good governance; risk identification assessment, monitoring and early warning; knowledge management and education; risk management; and involving the community.

"Disaster risk management implies having a policy, allocating the necessary resources, enforcing implementation, assigning accountability for failures and facilitating participation from the civil society, including the private sector," Luces said.

For Mitigation, the OCD is now pushing for a GSIS proposal - for insurance coverage for selected local government properties; for the approval of a bill which will allow the use of the 5% Local Calamity Fund for disaster preparedness activities; for the approval of the proposed Disaster management Act of 2008; and for the government to commissioned World Bank to study the vulnerability of the Philippines to disaster.

Luces also stressed that Cordillera is becoming more resilient to disasters and she gave credits to the effective information dissemination, with the help of the media and the networking between the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council and the Local Government Units.

OCD is also presently working on the creation of "Contingency Plan for Emergencies" on every province, city and municipality in the region. At present there are already 18, including five provinces that have already prepared such plans. This is in addition to continuously providing disaster preparedness trainings, such as "water search rescue" and "basic rescue trainings," Luces added.

Luces also announced that they are set to meet with Department of National Defense Secretary and National Disaster Coordinating Council Chairman Gilbert Teodoro, for the formulation of Abra's Flood Mitigation Master Plan. (PIA) [top]

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